From left to right: Eric Clapton
, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce
The Cream never really played that much blues. I think we aimed to start a revolution in musical thought. We set out to change the world, to upset people, and to shock them... Our aim was to get so far away from the original line that you're playing something that's never been heard before.Cream
was an extremely influential English band active from 1966 to 1969, reuniting a few times since. Cream was made up of Eric Clapton
(guitar & vocals), Ginger Baker (drums), and Jack Bruce (lead vocals & bass). All three musicians were already well known in the English rock scene at the time, thus making Cream one of the first supergroups
and the first to be referred as such
. During their three years of existence, they released four albums, all of which reached the top 6 of the UK Albums Chart.
popularised and helped codify Psychedelic Rock
and brought Blues Rock
into the mainstream with songs based on both traditional blues (such as "Crossroads" and "Spoonful") and modern blues. Cream also popularised the use of the wah-wah pedal.
The band was also known for its live performances. The members often incorporated jams into their songs, with some reaching to 16 minutes (such as "Spoonful" and "Toad"); this made them favourites around the world. They were at their time the number one biggest live act. Clapton's guitar solos were (and are) considered some of the best ever.Fresh Cream
, the band's first album, consisted of cover versions of blues standards ("Spoonful", "Rollin' and Tumblin'", "Four Until Late", "I'm So Glad"), original songs written by the band and collaborators ("I Feel Free", "N.S.U.", "Sleepy Time Time", "Dreaming", "Sweet Wine"), a rearrangement of the traditional song "Cat's Squirrel" and the drum solo showcase "Toad". Cream's sophomore effort Disraeli Gears
is considered the album that defined the band's style of mixed rock and blues; some of Cream's biggest hits, such as "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "Strange Brew," appeared on the album. Disraeli Gears
is also noted for its psychedelic cover art.Wheels Of Fire
was Cream's third album and their first double album, the first disc with studio tracks and the second with live tracks performed in San Francisco. It topped the American charts and became the world's first platinum-selling double album. With this album, the band shifted from blues to Progressive Rock
, using classical instruments and rare time signatures
Shortly before Wheels Of Fire
was finished, the members of Cream wanted to go their separate ways. The already-present animosity between Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce reached a high point, and Clapton had to act as peacekeeper. Soon, all three members did not listen to each other much while performing, with Clapton frequently recalling a concert where he actually stopped playing at one point but neither Baker or Bruce noticed. Clapton was also influenced to break up the band after a scathing review of one of their concerts in Rolling Stone
, where Jon Landau dismissed him as a "master of the blues cliché", and after becoming captivated by The Band
's debut Music From Big Pink
. Cream made an official announcement in July 1968 that they would break up soon after another tour and album. The band did a farewell tour in late 1968, and their final album, Goodbye
, was released in 1969.
Upon the demise of Cream, Eric Clapton had stints with other bands before embarking on an extremely successful solo career; the other two members have been successful, but less so. Jack Bruce died from liver disease on 25th October 2014, at the age of 71. His untimely passing more or less ends any chance of further Cream reunions.
Cream's influence has extended far, from progressive rock bands such as Rush
to jam bands such as The Grateful Dead
to heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath
and Rolling Stone have both called Cream one of the best bands of all time. Most of all, one of their number one fans was of course Jimi Hendrix
, who came to England in hope of meeting Eric Clapton
, his idol.
Principal Members (Founding members in bold):
- Ginger Baker - drums, percussion, occasional lead vocals, bells, glockenspiel, timpani, cowbells (1966-1968, 1993, 2005)
- Jack Bruce - bass, lead vocals, harmonica, piano, cello, guitar, calliope, recorder, organ (1966-1968, 1993, 2005, died 2014)
- Eric Clapton - guitar, lead vocals (1966-1968, 1993, 2005)
- 1966 - Fresh Cream
- 1966 - Fresh Cream note
- 1967 - Fresh Cream note
- 1967 - Disraeli Gears
- 1968 - Wheels Of Fire note
- 1969 - Goodbye note
- 1968 - Wheels Of Fire note
- 1969 - Goodbye note
- 1970 - Live Cream
- 1972 - Live Cream Volume II
- 2003 - BBC Sessions
- 2006 - Royal Albert Hall London May 2-3-5-6, 2005
- 1966 - "Wrapping Paper" note / "Cat's Squirrel"
- 1966 - "I Feel Free" note / "N.S.U." note
- 1968 - "Anyone For Tennis" / "Pressed Rat And Warthog"
This band provides examples of:
- Blues Rock: If not the Trope Codifier, then certainly the most important Genre Popularizer.
- Creative Differences: Averted, as Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker's fights were well known and the main reason they quit.
- Cool Old Guy: Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker.
- Cover Version: Side two of Fresh Cream, almost the entire live discs of Wheels Of Fire and Goodbye, and parts of Disraeli Gears. Worth noting is they would often rearrange them.
- Distinct Double Album: Wheels Of Fire.
- Dream Team: The first super-group.
- Epic Rocking: These were the guys who started it! To Ending Fatigue levels, in fact. Which was due to a severe Gone Horribly Right: at their first concerts, they didn't have a big repertoire so they'd stretch out by jamming. Pretty soon the only reason people came to their shows was to hear their jamming. Eddie Van Halen once referred to their style by saying "they had this quality of falling down the stairs and landing on their feet."
- Gratuitous Panning: In most songs on Fresh Cream and Disraeli Gears, all the drums were on the right channel. In "I Feel Free," all the main instruments were on the right channel, the tambourine was on the left, and the vocals were in the middle. In "Mother's Lament," the reverb on the vocals was only on the right channel.
- Greek Mythology: They recorded a song called "Tales Of Brave Ulysses" based on The Odyssey.
- Import Filter: Both ways. Cream had many American influences like Robert Johnson and Howlin Wolf (in fact, they were much more into these people than Americans). And Cream were VERY popular in America.
- Lead Bassist: Jack Bruce was a Type A and a Type B. When Cream were recording most of their material he was by far the best-known member of the band, and he was also their lead vocalist as well as by far the largest contributor in terms of original songs. Also somewhat averted, though, as Clapton's fame has obviously overshadowed his these days, and Ginger Baker has gotten quite a lot of exposure since the band's break-up as well. Then again, in a power trio as influential as Cream and consisting of three virtuosos, they're all going to attract quite a lot of attention.
- Loudness War: Baker and Bruce actually engaged in a live version, loading the stage with newer and increasingly advanced amplifiers, attempting to drown one another out. Clapton eventually realised he could stop playing completely unnoticed.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Badge."
- Progressive Rock: Arguably one of the Trope Codifiers or Ur Examples, depending on your interpretation.
- Psychedelic Rock: Again, one of the Trope Codifiers.
- Rearrange the Song: "Crossroads", from Robert Johnson's "Cross Road Blues". Those awesome guitar solos? Clapton's additions.
- Rock Trio
- Short-Lived Big Impact
- Step Up to the Microphone: Clapton takes the lead on "Strange Brew" and "Outside Woman Blues", and additionally sings the chorus of "Sunshine Of Your Love" and the bridge of "White Room". Baker provides Spoken Word in Music on "Pressed Rat and Warthog", and sings additional vocals on "Mother's Lament" and "Those Were the Days"
- Uncommon Time: On Wheels Of Fire.
- Word Salad Lyrics: "Doing That Scrapyard Thing".