Cream’s second album, “Disraeli Gears,” was released in 1967.
It was their first hit album, and the subject of yet another
Classic Albums DVD release from Eagle Rock Entertainment.
As always, the events preceding the recording of this album are
discussed, including the years before the formation of Cream
in mid 1966. I think it’s right that Cream is considered to be the
first “supergroup.” By that time, both Jack Bruce (1943 – ) and
Ginger Baker (1939 – ) had formidable reputations as Jazz
musicians, having played with groups such as the Graham Bond
Organisation and Alexis Korner (1928-1984), sometimes with
each other. At the time Cream was formed, Jack Bruce was also a
classically trained cellist. Eric Clapton (1945 – )was even more
famous as a Blues guitarist, having played with both the
Yardbirds and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.
The formation of Cream forged a unique type of music, combining
Blues with improvisational Jazz. They also played it louder than
anyone was used to hearing, and their “live” sets included long
extended jams, showcasing their collective skills.
In the recording studio, they liked to also experiment with
more psychedelic and Pop musical styles, which were common
in the Zeitgeist of the mid to late 1960’s Rock scene. This was
certainly true of their first album, “Fresh Cream,” released at
the end of 1966, as well as “Disraeli Gears,” which was their
first record for Atlantic, and their first experience with the best
that American recording technology had to offer.
Circa 2005, Cream’s experiences in America are discussed in
detail on this DVD, both by the band members themselves,
Atlantic Records founder, Ahmet Ertegun (1923-2006), and
lyricist Pete Brown (1940 – ). There were also discussions
of legendary recording engineer Tom Dowd (1925-2002) and
bassist Felix Pappalardi (1939-1983) who acted as a producer
for Cream and would later play in the band Mountain.
Every song on “Disraeli Gears” was featured, along with a lot
of anecdotal information in some cases. It was interesting to
hear Eric Clapton cite the influence of The Byrds, referring to
“Dance the Night Away” as a sort of “Byrd’s tribute.” A
particularly captivating anecdote was the story of the
conception of “Sunshine of Your Love,” with Jack Bruce
illustrating the famous riff that began with him improvising on
the double bass. Eric Clapton then described playing the riff at
the octave and adding essential harmonies. As with all of the
DVDs in the Classic Albums series, it’s the “fleshing out” process
of the songs that makes these films so important and informative.
Interspersed throughout this 48-minute film were scenes from
the 1960’s and performance film clips of Cream, with a lot of
footage from their farewell concert at Albert Hall in 1968. A clip
was also shown from their 2005 reunion, held at the same venue.
Roughly 33 minutes of bonus material include Eric Clapton playing
acoustic versions of “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Outside
Woman Blues,” as well as Jack Bruce accompanying himself on
the piano, while singing “We’re Going Wrong.” As you can
imagine, his voice has changed over the years. Ginger Baker
also provides a drumming demonstration.
The real “find” on this disc is the color filmed footage of
“Tales of Brave Ulysses,” performed by Cream at a club gig
during 1968, as well as a “live” black and white version of
“We’re Going Wrong,” from a different date. Priceless!
For a band that was only together for approximately two
years and four months, Cream casts a giant shadow that is
felt and discussed to this day. How many other short-lived
bands could make such a claim?
This DVD was released in 2006, and goes a long way toward
showing why Cream was so special. I consider it to be