It was the end of March in 1967 when I saw Cream for the first time at the Murray the K Music in the 5th Dimension Show. As a matter of fact, it was the first time Cream played in the USA! I was certainly impressed. They played “I Feel Free“, “I’m So Glad,” and “Spoonful.”
Roughly two weeks later, my sister came home with an autographed copy of “Fresh Cream” and she told me about the recording session she just left with Cream.
I was amazed! One of my favorite songs on the LP was NSU allegedly named after Non-Specific Urethritis, which Eric Clapton was supposedly afflicted with when Jack Bruce wrote the song.
They were making a new LP. The title of the album was taken from an inside joke. Eric Clapton had been thinking of buying a racing bicycle and was discussing it with Ginger Baker, when a roadie named Mick Turner commented, “it’s got them Disraeli Gears”, meaning to say “derailleur gears,” but instead alluding to 19th Century British Prime Minister,Benjamin Disraeli. The band thought this was hilarious, and decided that it should be the title of their next album. Had it not been for Mick’s turn of phrase, the album would simply have been entitled “Cream!”
As a matter of fact, she was there when they recorded SWABLR The songs title is an acronym for either: She Walks Like A Bearded Rainbow or She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow.
This is still one of my favorite LP’s. With songs like Sunshine of Your Love and Tales of Brave Ulysses, how could you go wrong! Plus, the first issue of the album lit up beautifully under black light! Oh those psychedelic 60′ssssssssssssssssss
As an aspiring bass player, Wheels of Fire was a revelation! The studio side had a wide swath of styles from the hit tune White Room, to the classically derived As You Said and the strange and mystical Pressed Rat and Warthog with a killer Clapton solo at the end. Plus, a live side from FIllmore West which captured some of the most groundbreaking improvisation ever! Crossroads had some of the growlingest (if I can make up the word!) bass, Toad, showcasing the great drumming of Ginger Baker and Traintime with Jack Bruce on harmonica. A historic note, it was the world’s first platinum-selling double album
ANother outstanding feature of this album was its producer the great Felix Pappalardi. It was roughly 10 years later that I would become friends with Felix. I was called in to record and perform with Stephen Stills on a segment of an Saturday morning teen show Hot Hero Sandwich that Felix was producing. We hit it off very well and before his passing, he, Aerosmith bassist Ton Hamilton and I were going to collaborate on my 2nd bass instruction book “Improvising Rock Bass.” He was a truly great musician and an inspiring person who I still sorely miss.
Another interesting connection I had with Cream was when in 1989 I was touring with a fabulous singer/songwriter Cindy Bullens Survivor and after an opening slot with Joe Cocker, we did some dates with the Jack Bruce Band. I had always been a fan of his bass playing but when I heard his stride piano playing, I was blown away! What a left hand!
Another LP produced by Felix and considered their “final” LP was Goodbye. Consisting of 3 studio tracks and 3 live tracks. It was the end of a short lived and extraordinarily talented trio of musicians who broke so much musical ground on a consistent basis!
The big hit from the record, and still one of the most popular songs on the “classic rock” stations is Badge. Not only a great bassline but it has a guitar solo from “L’Angelo Misterioso” better known as George Harrison.
One of the live tracks that features the another great riff is Politician which was originally found on the Wheels of Fire record.
Cream opened the door for rock musicians to be able to explore via extended jams true self expression. I will always be indebted to them for this!