Posts Tagged ‘Fresh Cream’

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Fresh Cream is the debut studio album by the British rock band Cream. The album was released in the UK on 9th December 1966, as the first LP on the Reaction Records label, owned by producer Robert Stigwood. The UK album was released in both mono and stereo versions, at the same time as the release of the single “I Feel Free”

Given the reputations of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, the feverishly anticipated debut album from this power trio was always going to struggle to live up to expectations. And even though it didn’t, it is still one of the most important albums in 60s blues rock, and its influence on what came afterwards is immense. “Fresh Cream” is a melting pot of ideas, many of which would subsequently be developed and combined with flair and vision to some stunning effect in the following decade. There’s the colourful, musically informed psychedelic pop of Dreaming; the stripped-down, energetic Rollin’ And Tumblin’ powered along by Bruce’s bluesy wailing vocal and honking harmonica; a bouncy reworking of Robert Johnson’s Four Until Late; and six and a half minutes of Willie Dixon’s Spoonful on which Cream give a taste of their improvisational skills and Clapton shows flashes of real brilliance.

The real rough diamond, though, is Sweet Wine, in which Clapton gradually builds a dense, swirling psychedelic cloud of feedback and sustain that remains as stunning today as it was original then. Bass player Jack Bruce later said that the opening song “N.S.U.” was written for the band’s first rehearsal. “It was like an early punk song… the title meant “non-specific urethritis. It didn’t mean an NSU Quickly – which was one of those little 1960s mopeds. I used to say it was about a member of the band who had this venereal disease. I can’t tell you which one… except he played guitar.”

Fresh Cream and Cream were the sparks that ignited the blues rock explosion, and without them who knows how many of rock’s family jewels would not exist today.

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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.