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Live Cream, Volume 3

July 1, 2019

Available from 1960s Records

LIVE CREAM: VOLUME 3

The first power trio. The first supergroup. Massive sell-out US tours. But it was all meant to be very different.

Cream only existed for two and half years, from playing the Twisted Wheel on July 29th 1966 to their very public farewell gig at London’s Royal Albert Hall on November 26th 1968. Their work rate was prodigious and in addition to incessant touring they released four LPs, one a double. There was a clue to how the band saw themselves in their choice of name suggesting that guitarist Eric Clapton, bass player Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker were all virtuosi at the top of their game. “I thought of Cream as sort of a jazz band,” Jack Bruce said, “only we never told Eric he was really Ornette Coleman.”  Baker concurred “I’d rather play jazz – I hate rock & roll.” And Clapton had just left the Yardbirds because he considered For Your Love as too pop and he just wanted to play the blues. Despite this Cream released a succession of creative and successful singles band such as Wrapping Paper, I Feel Free, Strange Brew, Sunshine Of Your Love, Anyone For Tennis, White Room and Badge, the latter featuring an uncredited George Harrison.

Many posthumous compilations were released including two volumes of Live Cream, to which this record is a complement. The many tracks that Cream recorded for the BBC have been released widely, through the compilation BBC Sessions and the retrospective box set Those Were The Days plus additional tracks on the Deluxe edition of the band’s debut LP Fresh Cream. Even so seven BBC tracks have thus far eluded release, and we are delighted to rectify this.

As to the band’s legacy, NME writer Charles Shaar Murray was very perceptive. In 1975 he wrote “Study the early work of Cream. Their pieces were structurally non-shattering but the songs had real tunes, interesting lyrics and good arrangements. Also the relatively simple changes and riffs were fleshed out with some extempore playing: not just in the solos but around the melody. The trouble with the Cream / Hendrix period is that after Eric and Jimi had recorded long solos and double albums, every guitar-carrying poltroon with access to a stage or studio was under the impression that he too was destined to play every number for at least ten minutes…an awful lot of crummy guitar solos got played.”

Talking to Nigel Williamson in 2004 Clapton explained how the bands live performances lead to their eventual demise “By the time we went to America, we’d play half-hour solos in the middle of anything. We got into a lot of self-indulgence and a lot of easily pleased people went along with that. It flattered our vanity, and after that I think we stopped trying. “ Pete Townshend put it more succinctly: “I used to like to watch Cream until they got sad, and fucked up”. This record commemorates the band in happier and more productive times.

Tracklisting

Side One – BBC Sessions 1966 – 1968

  1. I’m So Glad (Skip James)

Recorded for Saturday Club 8.11.66 , broadcast 11.11.66

  1. Traintime (Jack Bruce)

Recorded for Saturday Club 10.1.67 , broadcast 14.1.67

  1. Toad (Ginger Baker)

Recorded for Saturday Club 10.1.67 , broadcast 14.1.67

  1. Tales Of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton & Martin Sharp)

Recorded for Joe Loss 14.7.67, broadcast 14.7.67

  1. Take It Back (Jack Bruce & Pete Brown)

Recorded for Joe Loss 14.7.67, broadcast 14.7.67

  1. Blue Condition (Ginger Baker)

Recorded for Top Gear 9.1.68, broadcast 14.1.68

  1. We’re Going Wrong (Jack Bruce)

Recorded for Top Gear 9.1.68, broadcast 14.1.68

 

Side Two – Live 1967

  1. We’re Going Wrong (Jack Bruce)
  2. I Feel Free (Jack Bruce & Pete Brown)

1-2 Recorded live at the Palais De Sports, Paris 1.6.67 for        French TV ‘First Festival Of Pop”

  1. Spoonful (Willie Dixon)
  2. Tales of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton & Martin Sharp)
  3. Sunshine Of Your Love (Jack Bruce & Eric Clapton)

3-5 Recorded live at the Revolution Club, London November    1967 for the Bouton Rouge TV show

 

Personnel

Jack Bruce – Bass, harmonica, piano, vocals

Eric Clapton – Guitar, vocals

Ginger Baker – Drums

 

I’m So Glad is an uptempo start to proceedings, tightly arranged and with strong unison vocals from Bruce and Clapton. The melodic guitar solo owes something to Tchaikovsky. Traintime is a showcase for Bruce’s harmonica prowess, done to a shuffle backing whilst the instrumental Toad gives Ginger Baker a chance to show off. Tales Of Brave Ulysses allows Clapton a chance to demonstrate his skill on the wah wah, thoroughly psychedelic lyrics courtesy of his flatmate and designer Martin Sharp. Take It Back is a more standard twelve bar blues, whilst Blue Condition answers the question “Should we let Ginger sing a few numbers?”. In contrast the final track on this side We’re Going Wrong serves to highlight just how strong a vocalist Jack Bruce could be, helped here by an unusually sensitive and restrained backing.

On Side Two We’re Going Wrong gets another, even more impassioned live outing. The version of I Feel Free features some subtle fills from Clapton, a melodic Bruce bass line and more strong unison singing. The takes of Spoonful, Tales of Brave Ulysses and Sunshine Of Your Love highlight impressive interplay between the three players, even when recorded in an empty London nightclub. The song lengths here are still modest, highlighting the melody and structure of the songs whilst still allowing space for improvisation. No crummy guitar solos here.

Sleeve notes: L’Angelo Mysterioso

 

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