CREAM – ” Scatafaragus ” Bootleg Album Live At Oakland Colisuem Ca. October 4th, 1968

Posted: April 28, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Image result for CREAM - Live At Oakland Coliseum Ca. October 4th, 1968 poster

Cream were a 1960s British rock power trio consisting of drummer Ginger Baker, guitarist/singer Eric Clapton and bassist/singer Jack Bruce. The group’s third album, “Wheels of Fire” (1968), was the world’s first platinum-selling double album. In October 1968 Cream were pretty much coming to an end, apart from the remaining tour dates which would end with two final shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London on the 26th November. Mentally they all knew the musical journey they had embarked on in 1966 was coming to an end. Including this show, they would have 20 dates left until the end of Cream as a band.

The band is widely regarded as the world’s first successful super-group. In their career, they sold more than 15 million copies of their albums worldwide. Their 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 current material such as “Strange Brew”, “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and “Toad”. The band’s biggest hits were “I Feel Free” (UK number 11), “Sunshine of Your Love” (US number 5), “White Room” (US number 6), “Crossroads” (US number 28), and “Badge” (UK number 18).

The band made a significant impact on the popular music of the time, and, along with Jimi Hendrix and other notable guitarists and bands, popularised the use of the wah-wah pedal. They provided a heavy yet technically proficient musical theme that foreshadowed and influenced the emergence of British bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. They also had an impact on American southern rock groups the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Recorded barely a month before the band’s much ballyhooed “Farewell Performance” at the Royal Albert Hall in November 1968, this October 4th show provides sound documentation of the monumental impact Cream had on the world of rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

The band opened the set with “White Room” which at this point in time was the standard setlist opener. Before the band launch into the song you can hear the excitement and anticipation in the crowd right up until that opening G minor chord rings out through the coliseum. It’s a good version but you can tell the band are still warming up to begin with, at least until Eric’s roaring solo three quarters of the way through this performance. That wah-wah tone is fantastic, and everything you associate with Cream during 1968. White Room is followed by Politician and Jack is the runaway star here, he really sings like a man possessed.

Crossroads is the third song and this is probably the biggest difference when compared to the famous version recorded at Winterland on the 10th March 1968. What you hear here is a slower version and as a result it lacks any of the fire the Winterland version contains. The song plods along more than it flows, however it does picks up when Clapton takes up his first solo. It doesn’t help that the song started slower than it was meant to and when you jump to the end you can instantly hear that the tempo has increased as the song has gone on, and as a result the song ends better than it started.

When you think of Sunshine Of Your Love as a live song, you think of the length of the song and what the band did in that space of time. It was common for the band to jam on Sunshine for over 10 minutes but during the US Farewell tour of 1968 the song was considerably shorter. This version clocks in at just over 5 minutes but thankfully it contains just as much fire as a 10 or 15 minute version. Eric’s playing on this song was always fantastic during his time in Cream and here is no different, with his unique tone hitting those familiar breathtaking heights. You do feel like the song could have gone on for longer. Spoonful follows and there’s no worrying about this being shorter. Standing at 17 minutes in length, it doesn’t get any better than this. Spoonful is a song that probably best showcases Cream as a band and as a live unit. That riff is infectious and you’re just waiting until the band switch into improvise mode . This was Cream at the top of their game, no-one could do jamming and improvising as well.

Deserted Cities Of The Heart comes next, from the then recently released Wheels Of Fire album. This particular version featured on the Live Cream Vol. 2 album released in 1972 (as does White Room and Politician) and contains an explosive solo from Eric. It’s followed by Passing The Time/Toad but only the music from the former features, not including the basic backing vocals which Jack and Eric sing together. But before Passing The Time gets going the guitar and bass cut out and you’re left with eight and a half minutes of Toad. It is sometimes tough to listen to long versions of Toad drummer Ginger Baker was and will always be and why he deserves to be named up there alongside the best drummers of all time. The audience erupts out of satisfaction when Toad comes to an end. The last song, I’m So Glad, begins after a short comment from Ginger in which he says the following:  We must apologise for being a little rusty. We’ve all been on holiday. Thank you very much. We’re now going to do I’m So Glad, thank you.

Ginger’s comments definitely make sense after a fairly scratchy Crossroads and a shorter than usual Sunshine Of Your LoveYou get the feeling Eric and Jack take notice though because I’m So Glad is a step up in playing compared to the rest of the show.Overall it’s a great bootleg album, Saying that though this certainly isn’t the best show that Cream played, especially when you compare it to other shows like Winterland from the 10th March 1968 or the unbeatable Grande Ballroom shows the band played in October 1967.

For energy, virtuosity and expressive cohesion, few bands could top Cream in their heyday; and perhaps fewer can today. The group, for all their professional and personal conflicts, were still able to fill any performance space with a richness and a soulfulness that was distinctively their own.

Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals Jack Bruce – bass, vocals Ginger Baker – drums, percussion

Setlist: 1. White Room 2. Politician 3. Crossroads 4. Sunshine of Your Love 5. Spoonful 6. Deserted Cities of the Heart 7. Passing the Time 8. I’m So Glad 9. Crossroads (*) 10. Sunshine of Your Love (*) (*) Recorded at the Forum, Los Angeles, on November 18, 1968

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