25 June 2010

TGIF Rock-n-Roll Oldies: Cream 1967

Cream was a 1960s British blues-rock band consisting of bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton, and drummer/vocalist Ginger Baker. The sound was  a hybrid of blues/hard and psychedelic rock, utilizing to great effect Eric Clapton's towering talent as a guitarist with the powerful voice/funky basslines of Jack Bruce and the jazz-influenced drumming of Baker. Cream's Wheels of Fire was the world's first platinum-selling double album, and Cream is widely regarded as being the world's first notable and functioning supergroup.
Cream's music included songs based on traditional blues such as Crossroads and Spoonful, and modern blues such as Born Under a Bad Sign, as well as more eccentric songs such as Strange Brew (below). Cream's biggest hits were I Feel Free (UK #11), Sunshine of Your Love (US #5),White Room (US #6), Crossroads (US #28), and Badge (UK #18).
Cream -along with The Jimi Hendrix Experience- made a significant impact upon the popular music of the time, and both popularised the use of the wah-wah pedal. They provided a heavy yet technically proficient musical theme that foreshadowed and influenced the emergence of English bands such as Led Zeppelin,Deep Purple, and The Jeff Beck Group in the late 60s.

Eric Clapton was already the premier blues guitarist in England by July 1966, and his career with The Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers had earned him a reputation for virtuosity and raw power.  Clapton, however, found the environment of Mayall's band confining, and sought to expandClapton put-together Cream with Ginger Baker, then the leader of the Graham Bond Organization, which at one point featured Jack Bruce on bass guitar, harmonica and piano. 
"I had always liked Ginger", explained Eric Clapton. "Ginger had come to see me play with the Bluesbreakers. After the gig he drove me back to London in his Rover. I was very impressed with his car and driving. He was telling me that he wanted to start a band, and I had been thinking about it too." Each was impressed with the other's playing abilities, prompting Baker to ask Eric Clapton to join his new, then-unnamed group. Clapton immediately agreed, on the condition that Ginger Baker hire Jack Bruce as the group's bassist; according to Clapton, Baker was so surprised at the suggestion that he almost crashed the car.
Eric Clapton had met Bruce when the bassist/vocalist briefly played with the Bluesbreakers in March 1966; the two also had worked together as part of a one-shot band called Powerhouse (which also included Steve Winwood). Impressed with Jack Bruce's vocals and technical prowess, Clapton wanted to work with him on an ongoing basis.
What Clapton did not know was that while Bruce was in Bond's band, he and Ginger Baker had been notorious for their quarrelling. While both were excellent jazz musicians and respected each other's skills, the confines of the GBO had proved too small for their egos. Their volatile relationship included on-stage fights, culminating in the sabotage of one another's instruments

After Baker fired Bruce from the band, Bruce continued to arrive for gigs; ultimately, Jack Bruce was driven away from the band after Baker threatened him at knifepoint. Surprisingly, Baker and Bruce were initially able to put aside their differences for the good of Baker's new trio, which he envisioned as collaborative, with each of the members contributing to music and lyrics. The band was named "Cream".
It was during the early organisation that they decided Jack Bruce would serve as the group's lead vocalist- a fine example of this talent would be White Room or Sunshine of Your Love. While Clapton was shy about singing, he did occasionally harmonize with Bruce and, in time, took lead vocals on some notable Cream tunes including Four Until Late, Strange Brew (below),  Crossroads, and the later the stellar Badge.  
Eventually ongoing Baker-Bruce conflicts doomed Cream, the band lasting barely two years - Clapton then went-on to form Blind Faith,  Derek and the Dominoes, followed of course by his storied solo career... as Bruce and Baker went on to other projects.  Clapton, Baker, and Bruce last re-united in 2005 for a series of concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall and NYC's Madison Square Garden... to rave reviews.

EricClapton.com     JackBruce.com     Wikipedia 

Previous Rock-n-Roll Oldies features at RR -here-


Longhaired Conservative said...


Good Ole Boy said...

I haven't seen you hype the greatest band to come out of that era and is still with us. The Moody Blues.

Reaganite Republican said...

You know, I am working on that one Good Ole Boy... I am a big fan of the Moody Blues and saw them in concert in 1982, great show.

Probably about a month off, I have them lined-up in the can

Red said...

It's a kick ass rock n roll post however I'm not much of a fan of this band. Just a couple of songs here and there. I know. I'm a square.

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