Tag Archive: Cream

So often times great art seems to come from people in a great deal of pain.  You see it all the time with musicians…starving artists who put out phenomenal debut records, only to become mediocre once they start living comfortably.  Well, Clapton never became mediocre, but he is certainly at his best here on this record when he was in a lot of emotional pain.  Apparently this entire album was inspired by his future wife, Pattie Boyd.  The only problem was that she was married to his best friend, George Harrison, at the time (I never realized Clapton had so much in common with Black Cloud before.  Ahem.)  So he channeled his feelings into this record, and the result is fantastic.  Sure, eventually Harrison and Boyd split and she and Clapton got married.  And sure Harrison was cool about it and even attended their wedding reception.  But in the moment of this recording, Clapton was feeling the blues, and he got it all out in the studio.  I actually like this stuff way better than Clapton’s stuff with Cream.  That band veered too far into psychedelica for my taste, but this set is dirty and bluesy.  Duane Allman contributes as well, which makes for some pretty stellar dueling guitar solos.  I snagged this new for $13 at The Exchange in Willoughby last spring, and its been in pretty heavy rotation ever since.  I never quite realized “Layla” had a 4 minute piano coda before…I guess I must just have been familiar with the radio edit.

Other Lists: “Layla” is #27 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album fell two spots from its original position at #115.

My favourite track: “Layla”

Honourable mention: “Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out”

Quote: “I got the key to the highway, billed out and bound to go.  I gonna leave here running; walking is much too slow.”


#114: “Disreaeli Gears” by Cream

I feel like I’ve been trying to find time to write on this blog for months, probably because it has been months since I picked up this album at Barnes and Noble for $5.99 with a gift card my former boss gave me for the holidays last year.  But a brand new baby boy and a brand new house have been taking up most of my time these days.  So now, on a Sunday, instead of watching the Browns lose their ninth game in a row, I am going to try to find time to write a bit.  So yeah, I like this Cream (sh-boogie-bop) record a lot better than their first album.  The first was a bit too psychedelic for me, but this album get more into riff rock and the blues.  Sure, there’s still some mopey psychedelic tracks (“World of Pain”, “We’re Going Wrong”), and too many track sung by Jack Bruce, but overall, those songs make way for phat riffs (“Sunshine of Your Love”), driving rock (“Tales of Brave Ulysses”), and the electric blues (“Outside Woman Blues”, “Take It Back”).

So I remember getting into “Sunshine of Your Love” back in high school.  We played it in marching band, and I dug it so much that I got the two-disc Eric Clapton live set, 24 Nights, mostly for the 9-minute live version.  And I know I’ve talked about high school marching band before on this blog, it truly did have a big impact on my life.  I’m pretty sure if it hadn’t been for band trips, I might never have left Northeast Ohio.  But my freshman year we went to Gatlinburg, TN and my junior year we went to Disney World.  Plus we had smaller trips to King’s Island my sophomore year and to Niagara Falls my senior year, and these trips helped me see that there was more to the world than just the shoreline of Lake Erie.  And of course, some of the friendships I made in band have been the lifelong kind.  I met Black Cloud when he and I were both 8th grade band helpers (is there anything nerdier on the planet than being an 8th grade band helper?) and even though the Last Boy Scout and I were already buds, rooming together for four straight years at band camp helped cement our friendship.  Good times, yo.  I kinda wish I had been able to continue marching band in college, but the TBDBITL didn’t have saxomaphones, so I was out of luck.  And I think I was ready to move on as well, which is prolly why I became a choir director and not a band director (plus, it got me out of 16 years of Friday night football games).

Other lists: “Sunshine of Your Love” is #65 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album fell two spots from it’s ranking of #112 on the original list.

My favourite track: “Sunshine of Your Love”

Honourable mention: “Tales of Brave Ulysses”

Quote: “You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever, but you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun.”

Fresh Cream

Wow.  Other than playing lead on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on the White Album, this is Clapton’s first true appearance on the List.  As prolific as he’s been for the last 50 years, I’m kinda surprised it took this long to run into a Clapton album.  Of course, living here in the Capitol City, there are always rumors of Eric Clapton sightings.  Supposedly his most recent girlfriend-turned-wife is from around here, and it seems like everybody but me has seen him doing laundry in the German Village or taking in a local rock show at the former Thirsty Ear.  The more recent stories say he has a large house out in Dublin where he stays when they visit family, and apparently he fancies some sushi restaurant up on that side of town.  I don’t know if any of these stories are true or not, but it is a cool urban legend to have one of the most influential guitarists of all time hanging out in your city.  Although, I wonder when he visits he feels weird being only the second greatest guitarist in Central Ohio, after the great great Willie Phoenix, of course…

I kid.  I don’t mean to take anything away from Clapton.  He is one of the all time greats.  His playing is lyric and bluesy, and he doesn’t rely on any gimmicks or effects…he just plays.  This is Cream’s first album, and I went into it expecting some phat riff rock along the lines of “Sunshine of Your Love”, but instead its a mashup of psychedelic originals and blues covers.  And honestly, I don’t really dig the psychedelic stuff (it pales in comparison to the Beatles and the Doors and other masters of the genre), but the blues stuff is really great…covers of Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters, some of the best that ever was.  Cream was one of the first supergroups, but I’m not sure they had really gelled musically yet at this point.  Ginger Baker’s drumming is powerful, Jack Bruce’s bass playing is tight and his harmonica solos are bluesy, and of course Slowhand’s leads are nearly flawless, but somehow it feels as if they are all competing against each other rather than playing together as an ensemble.  I guess I’m just being critical…it’s definitely a good listen.   I picked this up for $6.99 at the Half Price Books out on Brice Road one day after work this last school year, and it was worth the price of admission.

Other lists: Eric Clapton is ranked #2 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists and #55 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.  Ginger Baker is #3 on the recent list of the 100 Greatest Drummers, and the band Cream is #67 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists (to my knowledge, Rolling Stone has not done a list of bass players yet…nobody loves the bass player).

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped one spot from its original position at #101.

My favourite track: “Spoonful” (which was not actually on the original U.S. album release)

Honourable mention: “Rollin’ and Tumblin'”

Quote: “Sweet wine, hay making, sunshine day breaking.  We can wait till tomorrow.  Car speed, road calling, bird freed, leaf falling.  We can bide time.”