Cream: of the Crop
BUZZ Newspaper Article: (Mar 2017 #72-eC)
By: RLSchwinden aka MrZerr0
I am sure like everyone else my 1st expose to CREAM was “Sunshine Of Your Love” but the one that really captured my attention was “White Room” so when I lived in Az. I asked my Uncle Brad about CREAM, he looked at me puzzled & said “You mean the 1st super-group ever?” He then handed me his copy of ‘Disraeli Gears’ & I was hooked, I spent hours listening to that record & staring at the cover … so their tale goes like this.
> Wrapping Paper: 1966<
It starts with one, “Ginger” Baker (Peter Edward Baker: 19 Aug 1939; Lewisham, S. London) in the early ’60s Baker was the Drummer in the band ‘Blues Incorporated’ where he would 1st meet Bassist Jack Bruce (John Symon Asher Bruce: 14 May 1943 Bishopbriggs, Lanarkshire, Scotland – 25 Oct 2014), the 2 later worked together in the ‘Graham Bond Organization’ even back then the pair were known to quarrel often. Baker had the idea to form a new band & asked Guitarist Eric “Slowhand” Patrick Clapton: CBE (30 Mar 1945; Ripley, Surrey, England) who had been with ‘The Yardbirds’ from Oct 1963 to Mar 1965 & then in ‘John Mayall & Bluesbreakers’ from Apr – June ’65, a well known talent in the UK, to join this new musical project where all members would contribute equally. Clapton accepted under the condition that Jack Bruce be the Bassist in this new project, Baker was less than enthusiastic, about this idea, but for the sake of the new band “The Cream Of The Crop In The UK” Baker put aside his differences. When Bruce agreed to join he brought along the Un-offical member of ‘CREAM’ the Lyricist Pete Brown: (Peter Ronald Brown: 25 Dec 1940; Ashtead, Surrey, England).
The interesting dynamic of the band was though; Clapton was the most well known musician at the time & was using a red 1964 Gibson ES-335, & a 1960 Les Paul Standard in Tobacco Sunburst & a 1964 SG custom painted by: ‘The Fool’ & a 1959 Black Triple Pickup Custom Reverse Firebird, & Bruce who played Gibson EB-3 Fool Fender Bass VI wrote & sang most of the songs, it was Baker who got all of the attention for his unique drumming skills, he used Ludwig Drums & was the 1st “Rock” drummer to use a “Double Kick Drum”
The 1st release from the band was the Non-LP 45 Single “Wrapping Paper b/w Cat’s Squirrel” in Oct 1966, back in the 60s; it was very common place for a band to release a single well in advance of the album, & then not use one or both songs from the single on the following LP. Their 2nd Non-LP single “I Feel Free b/w N.S.U.” is released in Dec ’66, to promote the new single the band appear on the TV show “Ready, Steady, Go” in Nov ’66. Their 1st LP (long player) ‘Fresh Cream’ is released in Dec 1966, on this LP Bruce sings 8 songs & Clapton only 1, & as with most British Bands releases in the early to mid 60s, the UK pressing & the USA pressing differ by 2 songs. In Europe there were so few places to play many bands appeared on TV to promote their new records, Cream made 2 appearances on “Beat Club” in Feb & May ’67.
> Strange Sunshine Tales: 1967 <
The Summer of “Love” is here & the band’s 2nd album is released ‘Disraeli Gears’ is released in Nov 1967, with Clapton singing 3 songs & Baker singing 1 & Bruce sings 6 songs & a final song by all 3. The singles “Strange Brew b/w Tales Of Brave Ulysses” is released in Jun ’67, to promote this single the band appears on the European TV Show “Hör hin, schau zu!” in Aug ’67, the single “Spoonful: Part 1 & 2”is released
To cement how important Cream was to the mid 60s, a rabid fan spray-painted the now legendary slogan “Clapton is God” in Autumn of ’67 on a wall in the Islington Underground rail station. The band makes an unprecedented 4 appearances on the TV Series “Bouton Rouge” from 1967- 68, & is featured in the Danish film: “Det var en lørdag aften” in ’68 their 5th single “Sunshine Of Your Love b/w SWLABR” hits #5 on the Billboard Charts in Aug 1968.
> Deserted Cities Of The Heart: 1968 <
The 1st release for ’68 is yet another Non-LP 45 Single from the film “Savage Seven” the song ”Anyone For Tennis b/w Pressed Rat And A Warthog” hit #64 on the charts in Jun ’68. The bands 3rd album ‘Wheels Of Fire’ is released in Jul 1968 & is the 1st ever double LP to go Platinum (1 million copies in sales certified by the RIAA) the 1st LP is a studio recording with Baker singing just 1 song with Clapton singing 2 & Bruce singing 6 songs. The 2nd LP is a “Live” recording from 3 different concerts in ’68. There were 2 singles released from this album “White Room b/w Those Were The Days” which rose to #6 on the charts in Nov 1968 & “Crossroads b/w Passing The Time” which hit #28 in Mar 1969, on “Crossroads” Bruce announces “Eric Clapton on vocals” because Clapton sang so few songs compared to Bruce himself. Pertaining to their Live Concerts, the band performed Concerts from; 6 Aug 1966: Torquay to 30 Nov 1968: London. Cream did in fact make a stop in Minneapolis & here is the Date & the Set-list:
5 May 1968 at the New City Opera House
Tales of Brave Ulysses
Sunshine of Your Love
I’m So Glad
Sitting on Top of the World
I myself was able to see Jack Bruce in concert with the “Ringo All-Starr Band” on Fri 30 Jun 2000 in St. Paul at the State Capitol, Bruce performed “Sunshine Of Your Love” “Theme For An Imaginary Western” “I Feel Free” “White Room”
> Swans In The Park: 1969 <
The band’s 4th & final album ‘Goodbye’ is released in Feb 1969 with Bruce singing 5 songs & Clapton singing only 1 song, of the 6 songs, 3 were studio & 3 were “live” from Oct ’68, the 45 single released was “Badge b/w What A Bringdown” which hit #60 on the charts in May 1969. “Badge” was written with BEATLES: Harrison & Starr (though Starr remains un-credited). It is said “The candle that burns twice as bright, burns twice as fast” with this “Super-Group” that much was certainly true. CREAM only lasted only from Jun 1966 to Nov 1968, due to the constant bickering between Baker & Bruce, Clapton just could not cope & wanted out, unfortunately, since Clapton & Baker became ‘Blind Faith’ in Winter ’69, it seems the blame must fall on Bruce.
There were several other releases after the band dissolved, “The Hits” packages containing “Non-LP Cuts” & the “Live” Packages representing this great “Live Band”
‘Best Of Cream’ Jul ’69
‘Live Cream’ Apr ’70
‘Live Cream II’ Mar ’72
‘Heavy Cream’ Oct ’72
‘Farewell Concert (VHS) (26 Nov 1968 Royal Albert Hall) 1977
‘Fresh Cream Live’ (DVD) 1993
‘BBC Sessions’ (CD) Mar 2003
Legends never die, Gene Simmons of: KISS, said when they were trying to come up with a name for his band he suggested”COFFEE” & their 1st LP could be called “Instant” like his 2nd favorite band; CREAM & they were a big enough influence on Simmons, that one of the few cover songs KISS ever played in concert & the only one Gene ever sang lead on was; “Sunshine Of Your Love” in Oct 1984 on the “Animalize” Tour.
Happy Bday “Slowhand”
Until the next time …. MrZerr0