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Cream

Although Cream were only together for a little more than two years, their influence was immense, both during their late-'60s peak and in the years following their breakup. Cream were the first top group to truly exploit the power trio format, in the process laying the foundation for much blues-rock and hard rock of the 1960s and 1970s. It was with Cream, too, that guitarist Eric Clapton truly became an international superstar. Critical revisionists have tagged the band as overrated, citing the musicians' emphasis upon flash, virtuosity, and showmanship at the expense of taste and focus. This was sometimes true of their live shows in particular, but in reality the best of their studio recordings were excellent fusions of blues, pop, and psychedelia, with concise original material outnumbering the bloated blues jams and overlong solos.

Cream could be viewed as the first rock supergroup to become superstars, although none of the three members were that well-known when the band formed in mid-1966. Eric Clapton had the biggest reputation, having established himself as a guitar hero first with the Yardbirds, and then in a more blues-intensive environment with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. (In the States, however, he was all but unknown, having left the Yardbirds before "For Your Love" made the American Top Ten.) Bassist/singer Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker had both been in the Graham Bond Organisation, an underrated British R&B combo that drew extensively upon the jazz backgrounds of the musicians. Bruce had also been, very briefly, a member of the Bluesbreakers along with Clapton, and also briefly a member of Manfred Mann when he became especially eager to pay the rent.

All three of the musicians yearned to break free of the confines of the standard rock/R&B/blues group, in a unit that would allow them greater instrumental and improvisational freedom, somewhat in the mold of a jazz outfit. Eric Clapton's stunning guitar solos would get much of the adulation, yet Bruce was at least as responsible for shaping the group's sound, singing most of the material in his rich voice. He also wrote their best original compositions, sometimes in collaboration with outside lyricist Pete Brown.

At first Cream's focus was electrified and amped-up traditional blues, which dominated their first album, Fresh Cream, which made the British Top Ten in early 1967. Originals like "N.S.U." and "I Feel Free" gave notice that Cream were capable of moving beyond the blues, and they truly found their voice on Disraeli Gears in late 1967, which consisted mostly of group-penned songs. Here they fashioned invigorating, sometimes beguiling hard-driving psychedelic pop, which included plenty of memorable melodies and effective harmonies along with the expected crunching riffs. "Strange Brew," "Dance the Night Away," "Tales of Brave Ulysses," and "S.W.L.A.B.R." are all among their best tracks, and the album broke the band big-time in the States, reaching the Top Five. It also generated their first big U.S. hit single, "Sunshine of Your Love," which was based around one of the most popular hard rock riffs of the '60s.

With the double album Wheels of Fire, Cream topped the American charts in 1968, establishing themselves alongside the Beatles and Hendrix as one of the biggest rock acts in the world. The record itself was a more erratic affair than Disraeli Gears, perhaps dogged by the decision to present separate discs of studio and live material; the concert tracks in particular did much to establish their reputation, for good or ill, for stretching songs way past the ten-minute mark on-stage. The majestically doomy "White Room" gave Cream another huge American single, and the group was firmly established as one of the biggest live draws of any kind. Their decision to disband in late 1968 -- at a time when they were seemingly on top of the world -- came as a shock to most of the rock audience.

Cream's short lifespan, however, was in hindsight unsurprising given the considerable talents, ambitions, and egos of each of the bandmembers. Clapton in particular was tired of blowing away listeners with sheer power, and wanted to explore more subtle directions. After a farewell tour of the States, the band broke up in November 1968. In 1969, however, they were in a sense bigger than ever; a posthumous album featuring both studio and live material, Goodbye, made number two, highlighted by the haunting Eric Clapton-George Harrison composition "Badge," which remains one of Cream's most beloved tracks.

Clapton and Baker would quickly resurface in 1969 as half of another short-lived supergroup, Blind Faith, and Clapton of course went on to one of the longest and most successful careers of anyone in the rock business. Bruce and Baker never attained profiles nearly as high after leaving Cream, but both kept busy in the ensuing decades with various interesting projects in the fields of rock, jazz, and experimental music. Cream reunited for a handful of live shows in 2005 at London's Royal Albert Hall and New York City's Madison Square Gardens, but no further reunions were forthcoming, and Bruce died of liver disease in Suffolk, England in October 2014. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Loving this tune
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LOVED the Singer Songwriters and
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Jamie Yolanda (Landy) sweet Alabama..Thi s is Terry.
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I.wish today's music still sounded.just like this. I hated to see the 70's go by that was some of the best music ever
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Remember jamming this, little red bud. Off to school. For my leanings. LOL PEACE
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pfflyer13
Ginger was the best I have ever heard!! his album was great !!!!
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When I was young Clapton was considered the best guitarists in the world and Bruce and Baker were also considered by most to be the best at their instruments
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I had your album in 1966!
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Nice, for our troops!!!!!!
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The sound quality isn't up to digital standards 50 years later but hooray to the BBC for recording and keeping these great songs from the past.
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Not only is Eric Clapton a prolific guitar players , but he could sing his a** off too! I have been a fan since grade school, the late 60's.
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saw them live at Grande in Detroit. They were very good!!
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Vv MN nmhmm myocardial nm NV. Nba. Nn BBM BBM. BBMV b. BBMn nmBMXn BBM a
BMW n. BBMnmBMX VMware. BBM. BMWblnnmmmmm m
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Of course Clapton is Clapton but when i came back around to my old albums i really realized how truely great Jack Bruce was. Bill W.
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My jam! Eric Clapton! Love this band.
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great bass player..grea t drummer...gr e a t guitarist..g r e a t singer...wad d a y a w a n t .
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Jimmy Page!!! Way under estimated as that great guitar player . as Steve McQueen would say, let er buck Jimmy
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Wild days dealing with the element of the unknown.
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Goodfellas lol
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Yes...the MASTER n rest of this group. ...fond memories of being 17 n married with 2 sons....work i n g graveyards. ....a time n my life of growth..
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awesome music love it
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seaphrampax
Ginger Baker rules!
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Eric Clapton is THE MASTER!
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The 1st true super groupe
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Those of us who served there clearly know the place where the shadows ran from themselves. Thanks, Cream.
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Fogetaboutit ! ! ! ! ! ! >:-)
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dillonjenkin s 1 9 8 5
1 of my jams
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jrbechmann
Ginger baker is a crazy man and his reputation for being so does not make him a great" drummer
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Classic!!!!! From an amazing band..
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Bio hardly mention Ginger Baker, one of the greatest drummers... Just ask any of the great drummers of today...
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Only if you know what this band is credited for can you appreciate their music...just ask Black Sabbath!
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Great band great song
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Where has the good old drugs gone, miss the s**t.
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Vanilla Fudge created a very unique sound that was amazing.



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billy8569
I miss Bruce
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buddy what ya tryen to do
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gertrude8199




















































cream rocks,kanye west can eat his socks
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This is Pot Smoking and Drop Acid Music from the 60's . Brings back found Good Times .
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igwilson538
Jack Bruce is brilliant!
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Love the 60s who haven't been in the white room. Free love and free to go as high that you touch the sky. 15 years old wild and loving life. What happen where did it go.
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melinda.odon n e l l 5
Ginger was a great drummer..
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Just saw that Jack Bruce passed away last October (2014). I had no idea. Sorry to hear that. He was great.
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White Room is one of the best songs every.
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Lynyrd Skynyrd
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HAPPY 70th ERIC !!
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I need to make a strange brew. Ha. Luv it
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HA CREAM THAT IS A GOOD SOMG BAD LUCK HAVE NO LUCK LOVE
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Being a kid and a Cream fan was really boss.
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60s greatest music ever
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im impressed
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