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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Royal Albert Hall London May 2-3-5-6 2005 (Live)

1. I'm So Glad (Live)

2. Spoonful (Live)

3. Outside Woman Blues (Live)

4. Pressed Rat And Warthog (Live)

5. Sleepy Time Time (Live)

6. N.S.U. (Live)

7. Politician (Live)

8. Sweet Wine (Live)

9. Rollin' And Tumblin' (Live)

10. Stormy Monday (Live)

11. Deserted Cities Of The Heart (Live)

12. Born Under A Bad Sign (Live)

13. We're Going Wrong (Live)

14. Crossroads (Live)

15. White Room (Live)

16. Toad (Live)

17. Sunshine Of Your Love (Live)

18. Sleepy Time Time (Live) (Alternate)

x

Track List: Cream: Gold

Disc 1

1. I Feel Free

2. N.S.U.

3. Sweet Wine

4. I'm So Glad

5. Strange Brew

6. Sunshine Of Your Love

7. World Of Pain

8. Tales Of Brave Ulysses

9. Swlabr

10. We're Going Wrong

11. White Room

12. Sitting On Top Of The World

13. Passing The Time

14. Politician

15. Those Were The Days

16. Born Under A Bad Sign

17. Deserted Cities Of The Heart

18. Anyone For Tennis

19. Badge

20. Doing That Scrapyard Thing

21. What A Bringdown

Disc 2

1. N.S.U. (Live)

2. Sleepy Time Time (Live)

3. Rollin' And Tumblin' (Live)

4. Spoonful (Live)

5. Crossroads (Live)

6. Sunshine Of Your Love (Live)

7. I'm So Glad (Live)

8. Toad (Live)

x

Track List: BBC Sessions

1. Sweet Wine (BBC Live)

2. Eric Clapton Interview 1 (BBC Live)

3. Wrapping Paper (BBC Live)

4. Rollin' And Tumblin' (BBC Live)

5. Steppin' Out (BBC Live)

6. Crossroads (BBC Live)

7. Cat's Squirrel (BBC Live)

8. Traintime (BBC Live)

9. I'm So Glad (BBC Live)

10. Lawdy Mama (BBC Live)

11. Eric Clapton Interview 2 (BBC Live)

12. I Feel Free (BBC Live)

13. N.S.U. (BBC Live)

14. Four Until Late (BBC Live)

15. Strange Brew (BBC Live)

16. Eric Clapton Interview 3 (BBC Live)

17. Tales Of Brave Ulysses (BBC Live)

18. We're Going Wrong (BBC Live)

19. Eric Clapton Interview 4 (BBC Live)

20. Born Under A Bad Sign (BBC Live)

21. Outside Woman Blues (BBC Live)

22. Take It Back (BBC Live)

23. Sunshine Of Your Love (BBC Live)

24. Politician (BBC Live)

25. SWLABR (BBC Live)

26. Steppin' Out (BBC Live)

x

Track List: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Cream

1. I Feel Free

2. N.S.U.

3. Sweet Wine

4. Spoonful

5. Strange Brew

6. Sunshine Of Your Love

7. Tales Of Brave Ulysses

8. White Room

9. Politician

10. Crossroads (Live)

11. Badge

x

Track List: Goodbye

1. I'm So glad (Live)

2. Politician (Live)

3. Sitting On Top Of The world (Live)

4. Badge

5. Doing That Scrapyard Thing

6. What A Bringdown

x

Track List: Wheels Of Fire

Disc 1

1. White Room

2. Sitting On Top Of The World

3. Passing The Time

4. As You Said

5. Pressed Rat And Warthog

7. Those Were The Days

8. Born Under A Bad Sign

9. Deserted Cities Of The Heart

Disc 2

2. Spoonful (Live)

3. Traintime (Live)

4. Toad (Live)

x

Track List: Disraeli Gears

1. Strange Brew

2. Sunshine Of Your Love

3. World Of Pain

4. Dance The Night Away

5. Blue Condition

6. Tales Of Brave Ulysses

7. Swlabr

8. We're Going Wrong

9. Outside Woman Blues

10. Take It Back

11. Mother's Lament

x

Track List: Disraeli Gears (Deluxe Editon)

Disc 1

1. Strange Brew

2. Sunshine Of Your Love

3. World Of Pain

4. Dance The Night Away

5. Blue Condition

6. Tales Of brave Ulysses

7. SWLABR

8. We're Going Wrong

9. Outside Woman Blues

10. Take It Back

11. Mother's Lament

12. Lawdy Mama (Version 2)

13. Blue Condition (Alternate Version)

14. We're Going Wrong (Demo)

15. Hey Now Princess (Demo)

16. SWLABR (Demo)

17. Weird Of Hermiston (Demo)

18. The Clearout (Demo)

Disc 2

1. Strange Brew (Mono Version)

2. Sunshine Of Your Love (Mono Version)

3. World Of Pain (Mono Version)

4. Dance The Night Away (Mono Version)

5. Blue Condition (Mono Version)

6. Tales Of Brave Ulysses (Mono Version)

7. SWLABR (Mono Version)

8. We're Going Wrong (Mono Version)

9. Outside Woman Blues (Mono Version)

10. Take It Back (Mono Version)

11. Mother's Lament (Mono Version)

12. Lawdy Mama (Version 1)

13. Blue Condition (Previously Unreleased Alternate Version) (feat. Eric Clapon)

14. Strange Brew (BBC Recording)

15. Tales Of Brave Ulysses (BBC Recording)

16. We're Going Wrong (BBC Recording)

17. Born Under A Bad Sign (BBC Recording) (Live)

18. Outside Woman Blues (BBC Recording)

19. Take It Back (BBC Recording)

20. Politician (BBC Recording)

21. SWLABR (BBC Recording)

22. Steppin' Out (BBC Recording)

x

Track List: Fresh Cream

1. I Feel Free

2. N.S.U.

3. Sleepy Time Time

4. Dreaming

5. Sweet Wine

6. Spoonful

7. Cat's Squirrel

8. Four Until Late

9. Rollin' And Tumblin'

10. I'm So Glad

11. Toad

Comments

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cherokeeprin c e s s 1 2 7
❤❤❤❤❤❤
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Coming back to MSG for a show, would love to go, saw him ,Eric, in his farwell tour, GREAT!.
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I F**KIN LOVE THIS
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one of the best dame rock groups I ever new back in the day ;;I miss all that sound >
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Bring back some of the best memories of my life!
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all of the old great band that only made a couple albums and were gone!!!!!!!
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I love Cream best group in the 60S
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Man
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Come by my david...radi o
sometime.
david...
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Kooh Vibes
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I Lv❤ Me some Jimmy, Lv❤ Cream
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dragonlady60 8 8
I love Cream best group in the 60S
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just great....jus t great!!
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I've seen them live witch makes me old o well that life
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Hear me knocking
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I'll be with you soon my love you are the sunshine of my love my Mike mimi
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"Tales of Brave Ulysses" and Outside Woman Blues"...bes t ever.
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Never saw Cream,,but I did see Blind Faith in 69 at the Oakland Colsm. were u there?
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My name is Glenn Miller from New Ireland, La. You my know what comes with that title. Thank you for CCL get Clsrcksdale, I hope that can happen, it truly saved my life at the time...
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The best of the groups EC was a part of that changed the late 60's .
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Always thinking about you Jason when I hear this song
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Now every time I listen to Zeppelin, especially this song I can only think of you!! And those unforgettabl e times with YOU!!! I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU MY HORNY A** BUNNY!!!
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Toad "Live" what a great fukin tune. Been so long since I heard this. Cream is Awesome !
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if you guys like this, have a listen to Witch a modern band but still has that great sound.
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Love the 60s
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justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
Cream - Sunshine Of Your Love - a Classic Rock Staple!! Long time since I listened to it! Beginnings of love of Eric Clapton!
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vicnstace091 4
maplek3 u need to take a hit and then you will understand and one more thing its called rock n roll
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Some of these comments make no sense AT All. Too many hit's of acid in the 60's and 70's I guess...
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White room outstanding
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wrong words are to Born Under a Bad Sign...
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Too bad they got the words wrong.. :)
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dlevin118
I saw them in SF with Moby Grape as the opening group. Top row of the Winter Palace. Sounded like Cream - tiny dots making lot of sound from far far away...
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I saw them live at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
Fantastic show!!!
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GAWD! I remember seeing Carlos and the boys playing on Golden Gate Park's benches, more than once. Thanks Mom & Dad!
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Chrissys I'll stand by you.London.
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alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
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This bad jam is giving me goosebumps Rock On!!!
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BBC sessions with Clapton and the boys!
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White Room......Si l v e r horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes.......n o w that's writing the way it used to be!
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KMET 94.7
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Laying on my bed writing to my brother in Vietnam listening to this song. Memories.... . My brother Pancho R. I. P. I miss u
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Michael has no idea what he's talking about
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Awesome band! Eric Clapton got his start within Cream and their music is very entertaining and electrifying !
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I love Cream. What 12 year old kid could not. This started out with a Traffic song, Mr. Fantasy. It listed similar artists. Cream was prominently featured. You couldn't say 1 was phenomenal & changed the direction of my musical tastes forever w/out mentioning the other one. So Traffic & Cream ( w/Clapton & Winwood ) both had extremely important influences on my life at around the age of 12 (Cream) & shortly later (Traffic).
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Cream f'n rocks ��
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Scream Cream!
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Love it.
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Definitely 1 of the best!!! Trios of there time really great music
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the best power trio of all time
Show more

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