Posts Tagged ‘Cream’

Image may contain: 3 people, people on stage and people standing

In March of 1968, Cream were about halfway through a long tour of the U.S., their popularity on the burgeoning psych-rock scene approaching climax. Their second album, 1967’s Disraeli Gears, had been a huge success, charting high in both Britain and America behind totemic songs like “Strange Brew,” “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and “Sunshine of Your Love.” Their third, the double-album Wheels of Fire was set for a summer release and would land with another thunder clap, with the near-unprecedented talents of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker evolving into further experimental territory. But all was not well with the band. Baker and Bruce couldn’t stand each other, and Clapton complained that the band’s shows were devolving into garish displays of one-upsmanship. It hadn’t even been 18 months since the release of their debut LP Fresh Cream, but the trio had been hurtling forward with such speed and force that they were already out of gas. In May, they decided to break up for good, stunning the music world. As it turned out, this tour of America would be their last.

On March 9th, 1968, Cream were at the Winterland Ballroom for the penultimate performance of a two-week run in San Francisco. For this show, the band broke out a few songs from Fresh Cream, including “N.S.U.,” “Toad” and “Sleepy Time Time.” Even if the band was on the verge of collapse, they sounded no less powerful, with all three members locked into a power groove that couldn’t be equaled at the time, and maybe since. Listen to Cream play the molten blues on this date 50 years ago.

CREAM – 1966 – This band wasn’t called Cream for nothing. They were three top-notch musicians who had cut their teeth in bands like the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Manfred Mann and Blues Incorporated. They sprung fully formed in London in 1966 and quickly became the first successful supergroup. For two years they reigned, but their volatile personalities finally got the best of them and they packed it in as a group. But not before leaving behind some electrifying live performances with powerful solos from Clapton and Baker on guitar and drums respectively. In fact, their third album “Wheels of Fire,” (the live part – record two) was recorded at the Fillmore in San Francisco and was the world’s first platinum-selling double album. The band was the model for every power trio that followed it, beginning with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Cream was short-lived but one of the best of its kind in Rock history.

Image result for cream at winterland 1968

Founded by drummer Ginger Baker when he recruited Eric Clapton, followed by Jack Bruce to form a new band, Cream would quickly become one of the most influential groups of the 1960s, changing the landscape of blues and rock ‘n’ roll simultaneously. Volcanic onstage, Baker and Bruce were equally volatile offstage. Despite antagonistic history between the two, Clapton convinced them to set aside their differences and Cream was born in 1966, becoming the prototype power trio, fusing the blues and rock ‘n’ roll into a powerful new brew. Three technically gifted musicians with a penchant for volume, Cream’s live performances made a strong impression in Europe, making all but a select few bands sound lightweight or tame by comparison. Although all three members, especially Clapton, had established reputations in Europe, none of them had ever ventured to America. Other than Clapton, who had a modest reputation from import recordings by the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the members of Cream were unknown commodities in America.

This all changed over the course of six months, with San Francisco and the city’s primary concert promoter, Bill Graham, playing a major role in making it happen. The band’s initial visit to the States occurred in March of 1967 and was not an auspicious start. Cream played nine dates at Brooklyn’s RKO Theater for Murry The K, who presented five shows a day featuring Mitch Ryder, Smokey Robinson, Wilson Pickett, the Blues Project, and the Who, in addition to the virtually unknown Cream. As such, Cream were first relegated to playing three songs per show, which was soon paired down to a single song, “I’m So Glad,” which they were required to play five times a day.

Not an inspiring first visit, but Cream would return to the States in August of 1967, when they would embark on their first American tour and experience an alternate universe flourishing on the other side of the country. Much had changed in the past several months, both culturally and musically. The Beatles had released Sgt. Pepper and the Summer Of Love was in full swing when Cream landed in San Francisco, a city that would have a profound impact on the band. Cream’s first residency at Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium occurred the last week of August and the first week of September. For the first week, Graham presented the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Southside Sound System (which featured Charlie Musselwhite and Harvey Mandel) as openers to create a truly incredible triple bill of modern blues. The following week was no less impressive with jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton’s group (which included a young Larry Coryell on guitar) and the newly formed Electric Flag, featuring Mike Bloomfield, opening the shows.

Graham’s inspired billing and the great influx of young people that had descended on San Francisco at this time meant these shows were packed to the hilt. The Fillmore Auditorium had a legal capacity of 900, but somewhere between 1400 and 1500 people were reportedly crammed in for these shows, making Cream’s initial San Francisco residency a huge success. What they experienced in San Francisco, both culturally and musically, had a profound impact on the band. In turn, Cream’s performances had a lasting impact on the music scene now flourishing in the city. Faced with a more demanding performing experience, Cream began improvising more and incorporating spontaneous jams into many of their songs, some stretching out to nearly 20 minutes. The 1967 audiences in San Francisco embraced experimentation and sensory exploration and Cream took both to new levels on stage. With many of the key up-and-coming San Francisco musicians attending this run of shows, Cream had a significant impact, inspiring groups like the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver, and countless others to further embrace spontaneity in their own performances.

Image result for cream live at winterland 1968 posters

Thanks in large part to this initial run of 1967 Fillmore Auditorium performances, word of mouth spread rapidly. Cream established a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts to ever hit the city, which in turn increased album sales and demand for their performances in America. Early the following year, Cream returned to the States to record sessions for their third album at Atlantic Records New York City studios and to embark on their second US Tour. With much of the studio recordings for Wheels Of Fire just completed and with their new single, “Sunshine Of Your Love” just hitting the airwaves, Cream hit San Francisco for a second extended stay. With their reputation preceding them this time around, demand for tickets was now much greater. To address this, Bill Graham presented Cream at the significantly larger Winterland Ballroom (5,000 capacity) for three nights, followed by a fourth night at the more intimate Fillmore Auditorium, with the Loading Zone and Big Black opening all four nights. These concerts—which began on February 29th and continued through the first three nights of March—were a huge success, and following a few days off, Graham presented an additional four nights. These shows would go down in history as the peak performances of Cream’s career.

Image result for cream live at winterland 1968 posters

Atlantic Records and the group’s producer, Felix Pappalardi (who would soon team up with Leslie West to form the Cream-influenced band Mountain) were wise to capture the band’s onstage energy this time around, and much of Cream’s live legacy is based on the results of these recordings. Cream’s final run of San Francisco ballroom shows, which occurred on March, 7, 8, 9 and 10, 1968 would end up providing nearly all the evidence of Cream at their peak on stage and would also become the source of decades of confusion among fans, historians and collectors. For this final run, Bill Graham would reverse the approach of the following week, beginning with one night of two performances at the intimate Fillmore Auditorium, followed by six shows over the course of three nights at the much larger Winterland, this time with the James Cotton Blues Band and Al Kooper’s new outfit, Blood, Sweat & Tears opening. For this final four-night run, Cream producer Felix Pappalardi hired Wally Heider’s mobile unit and engineer Bill Halverson to record all eight performances. Essentially an eight track recording studio on wheels, Pappalardi and Halverson’s tapes from these nights would provide the incendiary live recordings fueling the second Wheel’s Of Fire album and eventually be mined for the posthumous Live Cream and Live Cream Volume 2 albums in the years to come.

Wheels Of Fire (Remastered)

Cream’s double album, Wheel’s Of Fire, would achieve astounding success, becoming the first double-record to ever sell a million copies, due in large part to the live material recorded by Pappalardi and Halverson during the final four nights in San Francisco. Herein also lies the initial source of confusion surrounding the official notation of these gigs, as the liner notes in Wheels Of Fire attributed the second disc of the set as Live at The Fillmore, despite the fact that all but one of the tracks was actually recorded at Winterland. At the time, this made marketing sense, as the Fillmore had far greater name recognition thanks to the local cultural scene receiving so much attention in the media, especially in Life and Time Magazine, as well as Crawdaddy! and the bourgeoning Rolling Stone magazine, which had recently launched out of San Francisco.

The confusion surrounding the venues on these recordings was further convoluted as the years went by and subsequent releases and reissues (including Cream’s own recent career retrospective box set – Those Were The Days) identified some of the material from these recordings as being from Fillmore West, a venue the band NEVER played. For the benefit of those questioning the validity of this statement, the reality is actually quite easily explained. In March of 1968, which is when these live San Francisco recordings were made, Fillmore West did not yet exist. Graham had opened Fillmore East in New York City (that same week, in fact) but he was still in the early stages of pursuing the 2800 capacity venue in San Francisco, which was then known as the Carousel Ballroom. Graham would not present concerts there until June of 1968, which is when he moved operations and christened the venue Fillmore West. Three times the capacity of the intimate Fillmore Auditorium and an entirely different experience, Cream never got the opportunity to perform there. By the time they returned to California on their farewell tour in October of 1968, they were playing huge sporting arenas like the Forum in Los Angeles and the Oakland Coliseum in the Bay Area, having already outgrown the likes of Fillmore West or Winterland. Despite this, incorrect information persists in authorized biographies, official release liner notes and is ubiquitous in much of the online documentation surrounding the March 1968 recordings. Because these Fillmore Auditorium and Winterland recordings were utilized as individual tracks on multiple albums over the course of the next several years, much date confusion surrounds the individual songs as well. With Pappalardi and Halverson’s recording logs as a guide, much of this has been rectified during the past decade, as reissues have begun documenting individual live song dates accurately, but the incorrect Fillmore West notation persists.

Since the Pappalardi/Halverson recordings have only been released as individual song edits, spread out and re-sequenced over several different releases, it is difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy an accurately sequenced continuous recording of Cream at their peak, unless one pursues poor quality audience recordings of the era. All of which makes this 40-minute two-track board recording from Bill Graham’s archive quite fascinating. Recorded at the early show on March 10th, 1968, the final night of this historic run, this particular set includes the performance of “Crossroads” that forever cemented Eric Clapton’s reputation and presents an extended sequence from one of the group’s greatest performances. Being a direct board recording of the house mix, rather than a post-production multitrack mix, provides a significantly different listening experience that in some ways is a more satisfying one, despite the less polished nature of the recordings.

Live Cream Volume 2 (Remastered)

The recording begins with the first song of the set, “Tales Of Brave Ulysses,” well underway. This is the performance that would later surface on Live Cream Volume 2 and features some of the greatest wah-wah guitar soloing ever played by a white man. Written by Clapton, Cream is in fine form right off the bat, setting the stage for the incendiary performances to come. It’s difficult to believe that the versions of “Crossroads” and “Spoonful” that floored so many on the Wheels Of Fire album could have occurred so early on in a set (and during an early show to boot!), but indeed they did, although Pappalardi wisely chose to reverse their order on the album. Here one can experience both songs in context of the larger performance, beginning with that monumental version of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful.” This is a prime example of Cream at the peak of their exploratory powers. Despite “Spoonful” being based on a very simple riff, the trio has the ability to improvise both tonally and rhythmically and the results burn for a solid sixteen minutes. It’s an extraordinarily daring performance that displays the intricate interplay and innate chemistry of these musicians. At approximately 10 minutes in, this performances heads for the stratosphere, with all three musicians furiously improvising, taking a basic blues soaring into regions few had ever explored.

This is followed by the now definitive Cream performance of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” possibly the greatest live encapsulation of Eric Clapton’s strength as a guitarist. This is a blistering performance, in which Clapton, Bruce, and Baker all seem to be soloing simultaneously. “Crossroads” is a dazzling display of the fury and bravado when Cream was at the pinnacle of their powers. This raw two-track recording also dispels several long-standing myths regarding “Crossroads” on the Wheels Of Fire album, which is indeed this performance. Many have claimed Clapton’s blistering solo a result of studio overdubbing, but here it is, fully intact, exactly as it went down, proving that one of the most blazing guitar solos of all time was indeed done spontaneously live on stage. Several noted historians have also claimed “Crossroads” to be an edited amalgamation of only the best parts, but that too is clearly not the case, as Cream really did manage to compress that much finesse and energy into a little over four minutes.

Taking a few seconds to catch their collective breath after “Crossroads,” the band next tackle Jack Bruce’s “We’re Going Wrong,” which many listeners will find fascinating as it has never seen official release. This is another fiery performance that slowly builds in intensity over the course of nearly eight minutes, well over twice the length of its studio counterpart. Here Jack Bruce displays what a passionate singer he could be, while simultaneously playing extraordinary bass lines. A hybrid of blues, rock, and a dose of psychadelia, this is another exciting performance that demonstrates Cream’s unique chemistry onstage. Along with the Jimi Hendrix Experience (arguably Cream’s only competition at the time) this music clearly foreshadows the “hard rock” sound that would come to dominate in the following decade.

Following “We’re Going Wrong” the band take a minute or so to debate what to close with. If one listens closely, Clapton can be heard suggesting “Cat’s Squirrel,” but Baker vetoes the suggestion, and since they’ve yet to play one of his songs, they pursue “Sweet Wine,” one of Baker’s contributions to their debut album. Although the tape runs out six and a half minutes in, this still provides another excellent example of the group building up a powerful performance based on the collective strengths of the individual members. Bruce and Baker are particularly impressive here, playing with a relentless fury that is well beyond what any rhythm section was attempting at the time. Clapton wails in response with seemingly boundless creativity.

Reaching the pinnacle of their collective strength, Cream wouldn’t last much longer and within a few short months; the constant bickering between Baker and Bruce would take its toll, leading the group to split up before years end. For the not quite three short years they were together, Cream was a prolific unit, releasing four (five if you count Wheels as a double) albums that set a new standard for rock musicianship. Despite their personal volatility (or perhaps in part, because of it), Cream burned brighter than most and left a lasting impression. Ginger Baker’s jazz-influenced drumming and Eric Clapton’s blues guitar stylings, combined with the complex bass lines and extraordinary voice of Jack Bruce, created a distinctive sound that would have a lasting impact. In many ways, Cream is largely responsible for creating the basic blueprint for rock music, with their heavier (and much louder) fusion of blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Much of the recorded evidence of their power on stage is sourced from these San Francisco performances and it’s doubtful they ever played with more conviction or invention than they did on the final night at Winterland, March 10th, 1968.

thanks to Alan Bershaw

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

Winterland was one of the most well known and legendary venues of the late 60’s and early 70’s. All of the major bands of the time played there, just like they did at the original Fillmore Auditorium, Fillmore West and Fillmore East. What did these venues have in common? The late great Bill Graham. From 1966 he rented Winterland as it could hold more people than the nearby Fillmore Auditorium, and he needed it for the larger concerts he was putting on. Originally the venue was called the New Dreamland Auditorium when it opened in 1928 and it was used for ice skating and concerts, as the venue could be easily changed between the two.

However it wasn’t until 1971 that the venue was just a music venue, after Bill Graham had it fully converted to one. But in 1968 the venue certainly rivalled the nearby Fillmore Auditorium as one of the premier venues in the United States. Other acts that graced the stage included The Allman Brothers Band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and The Doors to name just a few. Basically, rock royalty.

When Cream took to the stage on the 10th March 1968, the band had already been in San Francisco for 11 days. On the 29th February and the 1st/2nd March they played their initial run at Winterland followed by two shows at the Fillmore Auditorium on the 3rd and 7th. On the 8th they were back at Winterland for three additional days of shows with two performances on each day. An unbelievably hectic schedule for any band. But this was Cream in their prime and the shows from the 10th March 1968 are legendary as far as Cream recordings go

This release is available soon through Amazon UK  no info as yet so which show ? 7th or 10th March 1968, or maybe an alternative date from among these shows listed . Hoping they finally get around to releasing the awesome version of We’re Going Wrong they performed on run of shows at Winterland & The Fillmore.

Tracklist:

1. Tales Of Brave Ulysses 2. Spoonful 3. Crossroads 4. We’re Going Wrong 5. Sweet Wine 6. Sunshine Of Your Love 7. N.S.U. 8. Stepping Out 9. Traintime 10. Toad 11. I’m So Glad

If 1967 was a year of introduction and innovation in rock ‘n’ roll—from Monterey Pop to to the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band and the launch of Rolling Stone Magazine  1968 was a proving ground, when a handful of the stars who had sprouted in the “Summer of Love” came to full flower in the psychedelia age. Artists from both sides of the pond, including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Aretha Franklin, Cream, Traffic and Jefferson Airplane felt free to chip further away at old molds and pursue a daring new musical muse. It was an epochal year for established artists as well. The Beatles splintered in the studio, but their individual contributions to a self-titled double LP, the so-called “White Album”, amounted to some of the band’s greatest work and, in retrospect, unlocked a few imminent solo careers. It was a double album released by the Beatles  containing strong flavours of blues and rock’n’roll, Does this now mean the Beatles are taking a step backwards? As Ringo Starr philosophically remarks: ‘It’s not forwards or backwards. It’s just a step.’

John Wesley Harding

The year started out with what may well have been the finest album of the year, Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding. Midway through the year some tapes of Dylan’s were uncovered which were equally brilliant. Several of the songs on them came out on an album by The Band, Music From Big Pink. The best things on their album were not the Dylan songs, most of which sounded forced and strained, and by no means as good as Dylan’s own version of them on the tape. Rather, the highlights were the songs written by lead guitarist Robbie Robertson. “The Weight” was typical of the group’s low-down, country-soul, rock and roll performing and was one of the finest recordings of the year.

Bob Dylan also sets an anomalous tempo, established early in the year with the bucolic minimalism of ‘John Wesley Harding’. Dylan’s continued absence from the promotional scene allows him to move with a freedom not permitted his British contemporaries, and his absence creates a vacuum that myth, and under-the-counter recordings, step in to fill. British groups like The Who, meanwhile, grasp the opportunities of America. So effectively in fact, that their live shows were stupendous as they were chaotic.

The Notorious Byrd Brothers

The Byrds continued to go through personnel changes at least four times a year but in between times came up with two of the year’s great albums: The Notorious Byrd Brothers and Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The latter was a fine, straight country album with gorgeous, free harmonizing and excellent material. The former was perhaps their best album to date, and surely one of the five or so best of the year. David Crosby made some brilliant song-writing contributions, but the album was mainly Roger McGuinn’s and neither he nor anyone else in rock has often equalled such cuts as “Get To You” and “Artificial Energy.”

The Grateful Dead bored a lot of people with their much awaited second release, Anthem of the Sun and Moby Grape disappointed those who know that they are (or at least were) one of the finest live bands in the country with a very mediocre second album, Wow. On the other hand, the Rascals, long thought of as a teeny bopper group, continue to mature and develop and had at least one fine single this year: “People Got To Be Free.” 

Among individual artists, Laura Nyro began to receive the recognition she deserves, and many idolize her Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. Johnny Winter, a recently discovered white Texas blues singer has already created a large following on the basis of a few guest appearances in New York. San Francisco concert promoter Bill Graham rents a vacant New York theater and opens the Fillmore East concert venue.

Canadian rock band Steppenwolf release their debut album including the single “Born to Be Wild” and San Diego Rock band Iron Butterfly releases the album In A Gadda Da Vida considered to one of the first incarnations of the genre heavy metal albums.

The Rolling Stones grew out their roots with “Beggar’s Banquet”, while The Kinks and The Zombies took giant leaps forward with new and imaginative masterpieces that forever altered their trajectories. Plus we were introduced to a bunch of new faces to the pantheon:  The Doors, Sly Stone, Fleetwood Mac, Tim Buckley and, oh yes, Led Zeppelin. British rock and roll this year was dominated by blues bands. Ten Years After managed to kick up a lot of dust, Procol Harum continued to grow into its style and came up with a fine album, Shine on Brightly.

Pink Floyd lead singer and song writer Syd Barrett is checked into a psychiatric hospital and the band replaces him with David Gilmour.

Rock ‘n’ roll was at its most free in the pre-Woodstock glow of 1968. The Beatles went to India, Johnny Cash went to Prison at Folsom with one of the great live albums ever released, the Rolling Stones put a mobile studio in a truck, The Monkees went off the air. But it couldn’t ignore what was happening in the world riots, assassinations, war, a doomed election, space travel, poverty, drugs, Civil Rights, women’s liberation. All of it seeped into the art of the free-love counterculture with that strange combination of militant idealism and comical self-regard, as though it were clear that humanity would one day look at 1968 for a generation’s heroes and villains. Fifty years later in 2018 we are in the midst of a modern drug epidemic, a tarnished presidency, a growing underclass and a renewed vigor for social progress.

Here are some of the best albums of that momentous year in no particular order.

Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

The Byrds,  – Sweetheart of the Rodeo’

Even though David Crosby was booted from the Byrds in late 1967, the band had a pretty great 1968. In addition to the excellent ‘Notorious Byrd Brothers’ album, the restructured group released ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo,’ the granddaddy of all country-rock records. Credit goes to newcomer Gram Parsons, who helped steer the Byrds in this new direction. By the time the album came out in August, Parsons was gone and most of his vocals had been replaced (you can hear his recordings on the various reissues). But it didn’t matter in the long run — his, and the album’s, influence still resonates today.

Dock Of The Bay

Otis Redding, The Dock of the Bay   Released: February. 23rd

In some ways, 1968 began with a great sadness. On December. 10th, 1967, the blossoming soul star Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash in Wisconsin that also claimed the lives of four of his band members. The tragedy had taken not just one of the era’s most distinctive singers, but an artist standing at a new horizon for R&B music. Days before his death, Redding had recorded a new composition ”(Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay,” a lilting ray of sunshine that found a winsome Otis Redding unwinding his tight groove sound and opening up new worlds for his soul.

Released posthumously in February 1968, The Dock of the Bay showcased Redding for the mainstream audience he had courted at Monterey Pop the previous summer. “Let Me Come on Home” was the hard-driving, horn-happy rocker; “The Glory of Love” the arpeggiated slow burn; “Tramp” the naughty call-and-response with Carla Thomas. It wasn’t the album Redding was supposed to make in 1968, but it nevertheless served as the crossover breakthrough he always had in him.

Cheap Thrills

Big Brother & Holding Company, Cheap Thrills  – Released: August. 12th

Cheap Thrills, the second album featuring Janis Joplin, marked the emphatic emergence of the Texas-born singer in the San Francisco band that had already found some local success without her. Propelled by a star-making appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 that netted the band a deal with Columbia Records, Janis Joplin’s wavering, powderkeg voice quickly dominated the band’s psych-blues repertoire and raised the bar for practically every fiery vocalist to follow. Album entries “Summertime” and “Piece of My Heart” became signature songs, the vehicles with which she stunned the pop world with her grit and femininity, fusing her inner torment and strife with her public persona. Cheap Thrills topped the charts, one of the few products of San Francisco’s emerging underground to earn a mainstream embrace. The album’s cover, by illustrator R. Crumb, remains one of the most iconic of the era.

Truth

Jeff Beck,  –  Truth  

Jeff Beck’s first solo album following his departure from the Yardbirds in 1966 picks up where he left off with the influential British blues rockers: covering blues classics, standards from the Great American Songbook and even one of his old band’s songs. The guitar hero’s group on ‘Truth’ — including singer Rod Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood  would get co-billing on the follow-up album, 1969’s ‘Beck-Ola.’ They deserve it here too.

Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake

Small Faces, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake  –  Released: May 24th

Marking a definitive break from Small Faces’ early mod and R&B underpinnings, the two-act Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake was a bold move into the realms of stylish psychedelia and the eccentric affectation of late ‘60s English invention. Although more than a hint of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane’s Cockney humor was inescapable—the whimsical “Rene” and “Lazy Sunday” being obvious examples—two bold anthems, “Song of a Baker” and “Long Agos and Worlds Away,” predated Led Zeppelin’s arch bombast by several months.

At the time, the round album cover, made to resemble a tobacco tin, and the sidelong gibberish of “Happiness Stan,” a pseudo fairytale narrated by English actor Stanley Unwin, also garnered plenty of attention. One of the first concept albums ever envisioned (and basically unplayable live), Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake remains a little appreciated musical masterpiece. Small Faces would disband the following year.

Wheels Of Fire (Remastered)

Cream, Wheels of Fire  –  Released: August

Wheels of Fire had a hard precedent to follow, coming as it did on the heels of Cream’s 1967 sophomore breakthrough, Disraeli Gears and the blues-embossed psychedelia that preceded it. Nevertheless, laden with such classics as “White Room,” “Politician” and a sterling remake of the Robert Johnson classic “Crossroads” that became a microcosm of Eric Clapton’s entire career as a blues-nicking guitar deity, it managed to express the full potency of this startling supergroup (with Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker on drums) and ensure their immortality. By taking the idea of a double disc to a new level of productivity—half live, half studio—Wheels of Fire also made full use of the trio’s songwriting chops and their ability to improvise onstage. Rarely has there been such a sprawling effort capable of bringing out that ability with such flourish and finesse. This was Cream’s last real album-length musical document, with only 1969’s abridged Goodbye to follow.

We're Only In It For The Money

Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention  –  We’re Only It for the Money

More so than any other record on our list of the Top Albums of 1968, the Mothers‘ third record is the one with the most direct link to ‘Sgt. Pepper’s.’ And not just because its original parody cover photo — which ended up inside the LP after the Beatles’ management objected — is a fierce slap to the earlier record. Frank Zappa and crew’s concept album satirizes tons of Summer of Love standbys, including hippie idealism, left-wing thought processes and over-the-top concept albums.

Traffic (Remasters)

Traffic, Traffic  Released: October

A follow-up to their excellent and eclectic debut, Traffic’s eponymous sophomore set found a fully congealed ensemble. The on-again, off-again participation of Dave Mason was now fully present, if only temporarily for this effort. Indeed, this was the album that represented Traffic’s transition from woodshed romanticism to forerunners of new iconic invention, a sound simultaneously purveyed by The Band in their early Americana guise. Several of the standout songs—”40,000 Headmen,” “Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring,” “Pearly Queen”—offered druggy swirls of hippie-rock and tight soul embodied by Steve Winwood’s preternatural tenor and organ playing. Mason’s highlight, “Feelin‘ Alright,” would become a rock-radio smash for Gospel-tinged covermeister Joe Cocker the following year, and remains a mainstay in Mason’s live repertoire to this day. The definitive Traffic album, Traffic is another underrated monument of 1968.

Odyssey & Oracle by ZOMBIES (2011-01-21)

The Zombies, Odyssey and Oracle  –  Released: April 19th

One of the ‘60s great unsung masterpieces of that hallowed decade, the Zombies’ Odyssey and Oracle followed on the heels of the group’s early hits “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There,” while marking a giant leap forward. It was a set of songs flush with bold experimentation and baroque innovation, a concept not unlike that of Sgt. Pepper and other ornate musical ventures of the day. Ironically, The Zombies had broken up by the time Odyssey came out, and with its eventual smash hit, “Time of the Season,” it became a sad swan song that failed to reap the appreciation it deserved. Al Kooper championed its release in the U.S., but tepid label support doomed it to the cut-out bins practically from the get go. The original band recently reconvened (sans the late guitarist Jim Atkinson) to play the album live in its entirety, helping regain the critical kudos that evaded it originally.

At Folsom Prison (Legacy Edition)

Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison  –  Release: May

When Johnny Cash arrived at Folsom Prison in California on January. 13th, 1968, he was fortunate that he was there to perform for inmates and not join them behind bars. Cash had spent much of the previous few years in a drug spiral, watching his career and his life circle the drain. He was looking to revitalize his waning career, and a prison concert seemed the ideal vehicle—if Cash had always empathized with jail-bound convicts and the lonely despair that comes with the life, now he felt he could speak directly to them on terms everyone could understand. He had recorded the “Folsom Prison Blues” single back in 1955, and here was an opportunity to put faces to names. Proving that the concert was directed at a very specific audience, Cash performed a set of songs (two sets actually, which were combined into one 15-song album) that resisted self-help bromides and spiritual guff. “Dark as a Dungeon,” “The Long Black Veil” and “25 Minutes to Go” evoked the cynicism and gloom of living in captivity. Little did Cash expect, it also resonated loud and clear with a global audience who for one reason or another felt the sting of living in bondage even as they walked free.

Astral Weeks

Van Morrison, Astral Weeks   –  Released: November

After attaining his initial success back in Belfast with the band Them and a couple of hits (“Gloria,” “Here Comes the Night”), Van Morrison launched his solo career with a bang in the form of the ubiquitous soul-blaring 1967 hit “Brown Eyed Girl,” off his debut LP Blowin’ Your Mind! But it was the followup that proved to be his magnum opus. Charting new experimental terrain, he initiated a sound that was open-ended and had more to do with jazz, folk, elegiac imagery and pure stream of consciousness. “Cyprus Avenue,” “Sweet Thing,” “Ballerina” and “Astral Weeks” are unbound folk songs lit up with bells, strings, flutes and Morrison’s assured vocal wail. All but ignored in Northern Ireland, the album struck a chord with critics who admired Morrison’s meditative musings and the songs’ cerebral settings. Today, it’s widely recognized as one of the most influential albums of the era and an adventurous chapter in what would be a long and varied career.

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

The Kinks, Are the Village Green Preservation Society  –  Released: November. 22nd

The Kinks were never rabble-rousers in the truest sense of the word. For every proto-punk attempt at slash and burn with songs like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night,” Ray Davies and Co. were able to offer softer laments like “Waterloo Sunset” and “Set Me Free.” With an astute eye for detail, Davies could probe the absurdities of life and turn them into woeful tales of middle-class misery. He found full flourish with the lovely and graceful Village Green Preservation Society, a wonderfully wistful song cycle about idyllic England in more innocent times, flush with nostalgia, nuance and a gentle chiding of civility and sentiment in a storybook world. If Ray Davies chose to look at life through rose-colored lenses, no one could blame him for attempting to engineer this imaginative escape. It was The Kinks‘ sixth album, and final record by the original quartet, bombed when it came out in November 1968 . But it’s now considered the band’s best LP, a straight-faced concept album about Victorian-era mores. It’s lush, pastoral and brimming with gently strummed songs about small-town England that rank among the best songs that Ray Davies has ever written.

Bookends

Simon & Garfunkel, –  Bookends  –  Release: April 3rd

The most fully realized album of Simon and Garfunkel’s middle-period career, Bookends showed that the duo were capable of more than merely poignant, introspective balladry. Only their fourth studio effort, Bookends was fashioned as a concept album that imagined life’s progression from youth to old age. “Old Friends,” a song that more or less became synonymous with the duo’s often stormy relationship, encapsulated that trajectory, but several others stood apart as future standards, including “America,” “A Hazy Shade of Winter,” “At the Zoo,” and an encore performance of “Mrs. Robinson,” culled from the soundtrack to The Graduate, released the year before. At the same time, Bookends would prove an ideal lead-in to Bridge Over Troubled Water, which would follow two years later and elevate the duo to their grand crescendo.

Music From Big Pink

The Band, Music From Big Pink  –  Release: July 1st

The Band’s debut record took an entirely different path from 1967’s candy-colored psych-rock explosion. Bob Dylan’s former backing group stripped down and excavated a form of American roots music that was somewhere between country and folk. Dylan had a hand in some of the songs, but the quintet proved to be one of the most significant groups of their time.

By the time The Band released their debut full-length, they were already a well-known, road-tested outfit who’d played behind Dylan during his infamous electric breakout. But their emergence as architects of archival Americana arrived with Music From Big Pink, an album borne from jams, rehearsals and songwriting sessions at the album’s namesake house in upstate New York. Though elevated in stature at the time thanks to the presence of a few Dylan compositions, the finished album found Robertson, Helm, Hudson, Danko and Manuel tossing off their musical shackles, mixing up instrumental and vocal duties, and creating a vintage variety of folk and country that seemed as effortless as it did brilliant. It was that emphasis on rural roots—the band boasted four Canadians and and Arkansan—that inspired the souped-up backwoods persona they purveyed in both sight and sound. The songs stand the test of time, and indeed, “The Weight,” “This Wheel’s On Fire,” “Tears of Rage” and “I Shall Be Released” stand among the most indelible expressions of heartland music ever recorded.

Lady Soul [w/bonus selections]

Aretha Franklin, Lady Soul   –  Released: January. 22nd

It says something about how rare and electrifying Aretha Franklin was in 1968, as a 26-year-old singer making her third album for Atlantic Records, that she could claim the title Lady Soul and not only pull it off, but then wear the crown undisputed for the next 50 years. Aretha Franklin had scored a defining hit—for both herself and women everywhere—the previous year with her cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” then mourned Redding’s death in December. Her mix of exuberance and despair, crying and shouting with every twist of a wounded relationship that haunts the album, courses through Lady Soul.

There’s gospel bliss on ”(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and down-hearted blues on “Good to Me As I Am to You.” She also fearlessly reimagines songs by her most famed male contemporaries, including a simmering cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” which had been a hit for The Impressions. Franklin’s once-in-a-century siren of a voice always powerful, always under complete control—is backed all the way by a crack New York headlined led by organist Spooner Oldham, saxophonist King Curtis and guitarist Joe South.Beggars Banquet

The Rolling Stones, Beggar’s Banquet  –  Released: December. 6th

Following 1967’s critically panned Their Satanic Majesties Request, attempt to cash in on psychedelia, the Rolling Stones revealed their essence on Beggar’s Banquet—a dirty, raw, set of originals that injected some country twang into the band’s R&B obsessions and set the mold for the iconic Stones sound that would stretch on for another 50 years.

Like a few other artists on our list of Albums of 1968, unplugged and settled into a more gutsy rock ‘n’ roll groove for their seventh LP. Acknowledging, but without directly borrowing from, the usual R&B and blues influences, the Rolling Stones crafted an album that’s simultaneously raw, scary and sinister. More than that, it launched a staggeringly fruitful creative period (which continued through 1972’s career milestone ‘Exile on Main St.’) when the Stones more than earned their title as the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Band.

Containing at least three certified Stones classics—“Street Fighting Man,” “Salt of the Earth (featuring a rare lead vocal from Keith Richards) and the signature song “Sympathy for the Devil”Beggar’s Banquet marked the first entry in a four-album run—followed by Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street—that would go down as maybe the greatest winning album streak in rock history.

Sadly, it also marks the final album with Brian Jones’s full participation, and his reliability at the time was clearly in question. The original cover image, featuring a graffiti-strewn lavatory, was rejected by the record label and replaced with an unadorned invitation image that drew instant comparisons to the Beatles’ White Album, which had come out three weeks before. Nevertheless, the inner gatefold, depicting an enthusiastic food fight, ensured the Stones’ depravity wasn’t diminished.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland  –  Released: October. 16th

Jimi Hendrix  radiated genius from the get-go with Are You Experienced? and Axis Bold As Love, his first two albums with the his band Experience in 1967. On Electric Ladyland, he took that extraordinary innovation into entirely new realms that were difficult to define then and remain so now. The trio, with its British rhythm section and American front man, was perfectly suited to their era, and with a supporting cast that included Traffic’s Steve Winwood, Dave Mason and Chris Wood, as well as drummer Buddy Miles and Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady, Electric Ladyland redefined the concept of modern rock within a progressive posture. The album boasts everything that Hendrix (who produced it) did well: slinky psych-soul (“Burning of the Midnight Lamp,” the title track), explosive electric blues (“Voodoo Chile”), melodic pop (“Crosstown Traffic,” “Long Hot Summer Night”) and tripped-out sonic explorations that take the listener under the sea (“1983… A Merman I Should Turn to Be”) and into the heavens (“And the Gods Made Love”). His version of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” showcased his ability to put an indelible mark on any popular music of the day, making it little wonder that even now, half a century later, the final studio effort recorded in Hendrix’s lifetime continues to set an almost unattainably high bar. Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland was the only two record set of the year that made it in my book. He is the authoritative lead guitarist, the coolest showman, an excellent songwriter, and a constantly improving vocalist. He has one of the finest drummers in pop music working with him and an imagination of touring performers on the scene that day, Hendrix is tops and 1968 was his year.

The Beatles (The White Album)

The Beatles, The Beatles  –  Release: November. 22nd

After the critical success of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the rapid follow-up of the equally colorful and hallucinogenic Magical Mystery Tour, this expansive double-disc allowed the four Beatles both to stretch out artistically and reconnect with their roots in a way that would be further explored with the bare bones concept for their 1970 swan song, Let It Be.

A series of solo excursions made by an increasingly fractured band, the so-called White Album collected songs composed while the Fabs were meditating in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It mostly resisted the pressure to address the social upheaval swirling outside the doors of EMI Studios (later called Abbey Road) and focused instead on wide-ranging song craft, with each member managing to create some of his most lasting work despite—or maybe because of—the infighting and tension that plagued the recording sessions. Lennon emerged with “Dear Prudence,” Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” “Sexy Sadie” and “Revolution 1”; McCartney composed “Martha My Dear,” “Blackbird,” “I Will” and “Helter Skelter”; and Harrison contributed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Long Long Long” and “Savoy Truffle.” Taken together, they form what many consider to be among The Beatles’ greatest collection of songs.

Cream’s Ray Of ‘Sunshine’

In their short time as a band the supergroup, Cream were one of the top album bands on the British, and indeed the world, rock scene. But they also amassed quite a sequence of hit singles, and in this week in 1968, they debuted on  with one of their signature songs, ‘Sunshine Of Your Love.’

The trio had four previous UK singles chart entries to their name, including two top 20 hits, but ‘Sunshine’ gave them their first-ever appearance on the charts. In their own country, ‘Wrapping Paper’ announced their arrival in the autumn of 1966, reaching a modest No. 34, after which ‘I Feel Free’ hit No. 11 and ‘Strange Brew’ No. 17. ‘Anyone For Tennis’all spent three weeks on the survey in June of 1968, reaching No. 40.

‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ was composed by the prolific Cream writing team of bassist Jack Bruce and his lyric-writing collaborator Pete Brown with Eric Clapton. Clapton’s brilliant guitar solo on the recording contains a conscious reference to the Marcels’ rock ‘n’ roll classic ‘Blue Moon,’ highlighting the song’s amorous theme of a “dawn surprise.”

 

This classic rock anthem was introduced on Cream’s second album Disraeli Gears late in 1967, then became Cream’s biggest transatlantic single and their one gold-selling single in the States. It first reached No. 36 there in a 14-week run starting on 13th January 1968, but re-entered the top 100 in July and climbed all the way to No. 5. It later won a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

That US success prompted the UK release of ‘Sunshine,’ as a single the better part of a year after Disraeli Gears appeared. But the track has become a rock standard, performed live by both Bruce, before his passing, and Clapton on countless occasions. The classic status of ‘Sunshine’ has also been underlined in scores of cover versions, by everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Santana.

Legendary performance, live at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit. Recorded live includes the complete WRIF-FM broadcast, Digitally remastered for greatly enhanced sound quality, This is an explosive show by Cream very early in their career. It seems to be the entire performance which is also a big plus. I tip my hat to the fellow who took the time to remaster a wealth of great Cream shows on tape. It’s not an excellent soundboard recording as is suggested. It sounds like a couple of generations back from the original as the crispness and clarity of most master board recordings is missing. Because of the slightly muddy sound quality this one loses a couple of points but overall is still a must-have for any Cream fan, fanatic or casual, simply because of the blistering performance and completeness of the recording. Clapton’s licks here are exciting. Ignore the above review because this is one of Cream’s best-ever concerts. It seems that so many people jump on the bandwagon when it comes to live Cream–“Oh, this is soooo self-indulgent,””Oh, these jams are too long and Clapton is too excessive,-you know what? Many people like to say that because for decades, ignorant, hack rock critics have come up with the stereotype of Cream as a self-indulgent live band who made studio albums that were far better. Critics don’t play on the level of Clapton.

Cream is truly underrated when it comes to jamming. They didn’t do pot or acid to get them jamming (although they did do other drugs, but not to intentionally effect the music), like the Dead or Quicksilver. They were musicians who listened to each other and created some of the best improvisational jamming in rock.

Cream, live at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MA on October 15th 1967

White-hot from two months of touring the US, Cream played this remarkable show shortly before the release of the album “Disraeli Gears”. Regarded by some as the finest live document of the trio in existence, it typifies their explosive chemistry, with some outrageous wah-wah from Clapton, thunderous bass from Jack Bruce, and virtuoso drumming from Ginger Baker. This show from Detroit’s Grande Ballroom on October 15th 1967, originally broadcast on WRIF-FM, is presented in full here

 

Disc One
1. Tales Of Ulysees2. N.S.U3. Sitting On Top Of The World4. Sweet Wine5. Rollin’ & Tumblin’,
Disc Two
1. Spoonful2. Steppin’ Out3. Traintime4. Toad5. I’m So Glad,

fresh_cream_sde

Were Cream really to blame for ushering in the era of unchecked musical overindulgence? And is overindulgence necessarily so heinous? We only ask because, 51 years after the release of their debut album, it’s still the soft option to equate extended jams . It’s a fair point: but the dangerously unstable chemical compound that momentarily bound Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton together – star-crossed lovers in a hellbound ménage a trois – produced some startling fireworks before inevitably consuming itself.

December 1966’s Fresh Cream, reappearing here in mono and stereo iterations, and with several unreleased tracks among its booty of alternative versions, outtakes and radio sessions, maintains an edgy entente. Dreaming,“NSU” and the contemporaneous single “I Feel Free” demonstrate the trio’s little-remarked facility for hard pop, while their bewildering opening gambit, “Wrapping Paper”, only makes sense in the context of a long-vanished world wherein Winchester Cathedral could be a breakout hit.

Mindful of their blues-rock billing, Cream also break out a series of torrid R&B homages (Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Cat’s Squirrel, I’m So Glad): but Clapton became daring when Bruce and Baker loosened his purist girdle. The long lunar note that fanfares his solo on Spoonful – a delirious C# over E  is as close to soundgasm as white-boy blues ever got. As you can see from the image above, this comes packaged in a large format book, no doubt with plenty of rare photos and liner notes. Four-disc set to feature outtakes, BBC sessions, Blu-ray audio version of debut LP .Cream, the trio of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, would release three more albums after Fresh Cream – Disraeli Gears, Wheels of Fire and Goodbye – before splitting up. Bruce embarked on a solo career while Clapton and Baker joined Blind Faith, though over the next several decades all three would partake in an array of different musical projects.

“Disraeli Gears” is the second studio album by the British rock band Cream. It was released in November 1967. The album features the two singles “Strange Brew” and “Sunshine of Your Love”. The album was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York during May 1967, following the band’s nine shows as part of Murray the K’s “Music in the 5th Dimension” concert series. The sessions were produced by the future Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi  who also co-wrote the tracks “Strange Brew” and “World of Pain” with wife Gail Collins and were engineered by Tom Dowd According to Dowd the recording sessions took only three and a half days.

Disraeli Gears that turned Cream into a “supergroup.” Here they pursue the psychedelic ideals of the era with total abandon (the LP cover art still stands as one of the 1960s’ most striking designs), merging these ideals with their take on the blues and adorning the amalgamation with some superb pop craftsmanship. Of the 11 originals here, four–“Tales of Brave Ulysses”, “SWLABR”, “Strange Brew” and “Sunshine of Your Love”–earned major airplay. This, their excess-free greatest moment, does the Cream legend proud. “Disraeli Gears” features the group veering away, quite heavily, from their blues roots and indulging in more psychedelic sounds. The most blues-like tunes on the album are the remake of “Outside Woman Blues”, the Bruce/Brown composition “Take it Back” which had been inspired by the contemporary media images of American students burning their draft cards which featured harmonica work by Jack Bruce, and the opening track “Strange Brew” which was based on a 12-bar blues song called “Lawdy Mama” and featured Eric Clapton copying an Albert King guitar solo, note for note

The album title started as a joke. Mick Turner one of Cream’s roadies was discussing with drummer, Ginger Baker, how he fancied one of those bikes with’ Disraeli gears’. He meant, of course, derailleur gears, but the band found the mistake hilarious and so the name of one of one of the UK’s premier psychedelic albums was born.

For this Second album it was far different. Chemicals had been imbibed, Clapton had struck up a friendship with Australian artist Martin Sharp who not only provided the lyrics of “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” but also came up with the splendidly baroque cover. Meanwhile Jack Bruce was now working with underground poet, Pete Brown, whose lyrics were equally trippy. “SWLABR” (it stands for ‘She walks like a bearded rainbow’), “Dance The Night Away” and “Sunshine Of Your Love” were perfect encapsulations of the point where the blues got psychedelic and in turn got heavy. “Sunshine…”’s riff is at once iconic and defines the power trio aesthetic that was to prove so popular with the band’s many disciples.

The other creative catalyst was producer Felix Pappalardi. Co-writing both “World Of Pain” he also helped transform the blueswailing “Lawdy Mama” into the slinky “Strange Brew” – a contender for best album opener of all time. Clapton’s guitar had by now been exposed to the effects heavy stylings of Jimi Hendrix and his heavy use of wah-wah gives Disraeli Gears just the right amount of weirdness, making this probably the most experimental album he ever made. The modish inclusion of Ginger Baker’s rendition of “A Mother’s lament” was the edwardiana icing on the cake.

<b>Cream</b> – Crossroads (<b>Farewell</b> <b>Concert</b> 1968) | Tom Caswell Music

On this day (February. 20th) in 1969: the ill-fated rockumentary ‘Farewell Concert’, documenting Cream’s final performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall, opened in Baltimore, Maryland; director Tony Palmer incorporated pieces of six performances with narration by BBC announcer Patrick Allen & interviews with the band members themselves, showcasing their playing abilities; it was critically panned for its mediocre sound & visual effects; a much-improved special extended edition was issued in 2005, featuring full versions of all songs separated from the narration & interviews, digitally remastered sound & video, plus three bonus songs

The band had performed two sets at the Albert Hall, but it is believed only the second set was filmed in its entirety. Several times during the performance, it is apparent that the on-screen shot is not in sync with the audio. In fact, in several songs, including during Ginger Baker‘s drum solo, he seems to change clothes at lightning speed due to careless post-editing, as well as Eric Clapton playing 2 different guitars. This is because footage from both sets, with the band wearing different clothes and Clapton using a Gibson Firebird for the first set, a Gibson 335 for the second, were edited together. The BBC used 4 static cameras and 2 hand held cams, all recording onto video tape, whilst Palmer himself filmed footage at the front of the stage, utilising a 16mm film camera. The difference in quality can be detected easily during the broadcast. However, the BBC “Pete Drummond” version was better quality overall, and is the only version that has these 16mm film clips removed – the remastered release on the 2005 DVD presents both audio and video in excellent quality.

Ginger Baker himself has lashed out in an interview against the Farewell Concert video, claiming: “Cream was so much better than that.” Nonetheless, most Cream fans regard the actual performance with great enthusiasm, discarding the poor quality of the video.

 

Farewell Concert is the live recording of the Cream’s final concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 26th November 1968. Aside from the band’s reunion concert in 2005, it is Cream’s only official full concert release on video. It was originally broadcast by the BBC on 5th January 1969. It was not released on video in the US until 1977. The opening act for the concert was future progressive rock stars Yes who were just starting out.

My Classic Rock Page: <b>CREAM</b>: Rock music's power trio

 

Cream Say ‘Goodbye’

Cream may have had all too short a lifespan as far as their millions of admirers around the world were concerned — but at least they had the chance to say ‘Goodbye’ to each other. That, of course, was the title of the trio’s fourth and final studio album, released a few weeks after they announced that they would soon be splitting. The album made its American chart debut 47 years ago exactly, on February 15, 1969.

It had been an eventful few months for Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, who had only released the preceding album, ‘Wheels Of Fire,’ the previous July in the UK. Then came the announcement that Cream would call it quits after a farewell tour that autumn.

With a shortage of material available, ‘Goodbye’ was something of a mixed bag. Just as ‘Wheels Of Fire’ had (in its double LP version) been one disc of studio recordings and another of live performances, the final album was another 50-50 split. Three of its six tracks were recorded at the Forum in Los Angeles on that last tour. 19th October 1968 . The other tracks recorded October 1968 at IBC Studios in London, UK.

But the record did boast a very fresh and newsworthy studio number, and one written by Clapton with George Harrison, no less: ‘Badge’ featured George, or “L’Angelo Mysterioso” as he had to be credited for contractual reasons, on rhythm guitar. The song became, in many eyes, the last classic Cream number, and went on to reach the UK top 20 as a single.

Badge was written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison. In Georges handwritten lyrics he wrote the word “Bridge” as in bridge of a song and Clapton thought that it was “Badge” so they named the song that.

It appeared on Cream’s final album “Goodbye.”Ringo Star threw in a line also.

George Harrison on writing Badge with Clapton

I helped Eric write “Badge” you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that Goodbye Cream album and Eric didn’t have his written. We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part so I wrote ‘Bridge.’ Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing – ‘What’s BADGE?’ he said. After that, Ringo [Starr] walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park

I like when a band does something different. After blitzing audiences with Crossroads, Whiteroom, Sunshine of Your Love, and Strange Brew…out comes this song. It’s not my favorite Cream song…that would be Badge but this one always makes me smile.

The song was written by Eric Clapton and Martin Sharp for the movie “Savage Seven.” Unfortunately, this was nearing the end of Cream’s run.

Cream appeared on the Smothers Brothers and mimed this song. Who the hell knows what it means but when I heard “And the elephants are dancing on the graves of squealing mice. Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?” I was hooked. It’s hard to get it out of your head once you listen to it.

‘Goodbye’ made its US chart entry on Billboard’s Top LPs chart, as it was called at the time, at No. 107, as ‘The Beatles’ moved back to No. 1. In a 26-week chart run, it spent two weeks at No. 2 in March, held off the top spot by Glen Campbell’s ‘Wichita Lineman.’