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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2004
Gifted, erratic and incredibly powerful, Cream were probably the most important band to emerge from London's mid 60's R&B scene. Faced with a peer group of brilliant guitarists including Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Peter Green & Jimi Hendrix, a host of other world-class musicians such as Rod Stewart, John Mayall, John McVie & Steve Winwood, and a huge number of other less well known but equally gifted back-up players - all touring the same small club circuit night after night - Cream exploded into this scene in mid 1966 as a group deliberately conceived, as their name implied, to be "the best".
To understand how good they were you had to see them live during the short period in which their lofty ambition came close to fruition. They were... "the best" and, after stamping their authority in the UK, they switched to the USA to blow their home-grown competition off stage. Imploding in well documented strife by mid 1968, those who saw them during this brief period were privileged indeed. For those who didn't there's little on offer. The group's recordings are at best a shadow of what they were live, with the few real gems spread across their four albums - "Fresh Cream" (a fair encapsulation of where they were in mid 1966); "Disraeli Gears" (a studio album with a couple of real highlights and much mediocre stuffing); "Goodbye" (even more so) and, "Wheels of Fire" (probably the closest you'll get). The subsequently released live albums add little more.
But... one track says it all. "Crossroads": possibly the best interaction of three musicians at the peak of their powers ever committed to tape. Eric Clapton's breathtaking guitar solos are matched, virtually note for note, by Jack Bruce's brilliant "lead guitar" bass lines and Ginger Baker's power drumming. Live, because it had to be to capture it. As DJ John Peel said after playing this track on its first UK broadcast: "now tell me they're human". It's here, surrounded by some of their best recorded music, and it's priceless!
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on 24 January 2004
This is most definately the Cream of the Cream's albums. It contains not only a studio disk packed with wonderfully creative and ingenious songs, but a live album containing 4 monster tracks which are absolutely astounding.
It is difficult to describe Cream's albums because there are not enough superlatives. My father first played me "white Room" when I was 4, and I have hailed it as one of the best rock songs ever recorded.
Because this was the band's third album, they were definately more experimental, introducing tympani, glocks and cellos, but still the album is fantastic. "Passing the time", "As you said" and "Pressed Rat and Warthog" are certainly not what you would expect from cream, judging by their first two albums but if you persevere, they become just as good.
The rest of the album contains their classics; White Room, Politician, Deserted Cities of the Heart, Born under a Bad sign and Sitting on top of the world. All of these are examples of some of the best blues paying ever recorded.
On the live album, their ability as a band to Jam and interact with each othe are showcased, with Crossroads and Spoonful being some of the greatest songs ever cut.
My advice is to get this album and prepare to be blown away. It is well worth it.
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VINE VOICEon 25 July 2002
A great band at the top of their form.
A studio album and a live album.
The 4 live tracks capture Cream at their stunning best.
The quality of the interplay and improvisation is stunning. Claptons stunning work on Crossroads and the interplay between Bruce and Clapton and Baker on Spoonful is unsurpassed No other rock band had come close to this at this point.
The studio tracks are great too from the power blues of Sitting On Top Of The World and Born Under A Bad Sign to the classic power rock of the Bruce/Brown penned White Room (one of the greates rock songs ever) and Ginger Bakers fun recitation on Pressed Rat and Warthog.
This group influenced so much. Yet the people who followed ended up more revered and lauded and they were not fit to stand in their boots.
Keep listening to Cream folks.
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on 17 March 2000
The mixture of blues, jazz and rock played with the sheer brilliance of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Clapton with his classic fast blues style innovating on live tapes and his genius in playing set pieces on recordings, Bruce with his wonderful wailing blues voice and imaginative bass complimented with the thundering, intricate rhythms of Ginger Baker's drums makes for the most scintillating music of its time and is still relevant today. People forget that this first of the great super groups was hailed by classical and other musicians alike as being original and the best. Cream carved a niche in the annals of rock history and there will remain as a shining example to all for the future.
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on 7 March 2011
Really two entirely different albums - the studio one (and I don't think Cream were really a studio band - they were born to play live), and the live one at the Filmore. I bought the vinyl album twice in the 60's & 70's (having worn out the first one); the first side of the live album with Crossroads and Spoonful is probably the best rock-blues album side of all time. It's a shame the other side is an interminable drum solo so popular at the time (hence only 4 stars for the album as whole). I don't care how brilliant a drummer is, he/she should (in case there's any Honeycombs fans reading this) stick to backing the others. Crossroads is quite simply the best "short" live Cream track (short being relative) ever recorded whilst Spoonful is definately the perfect long live Cream track. Although improvised, it is so well played as to seem a written composition. No electric blues-rock fan should not go to his grave without hearing Spoonful.
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"Wheels of Fire" is surely the ultimate Cream. Cream = Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. This is a double album, the two "wheels" being the Studio wheel and the Live wheel.

"White Room", "Passing the Time" and "Politician" are great on the Studio side. "Pressed Rat and Warthog" is a bit weird but OK. The Live side speaks for itself.

What a great cover! Those were the days. Nowadays this art is all rather dated and nothing to shout about. The smaller sized CD format put an end to that. But in the days of vinyl this was one cool cover - especially the inside.
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on 6 June 2006
This is a classic. It unfortunately doesn't quite reach the peaks that "Disraeli Gears" had the previous year, but gets very close.

It starts with a cracker; "White Room". This is one of rock's classic tracks which mingles Jack's weird and wonderful lyrics with Ginger's crashing drum beats, an opening that sounds like it's out of a spaghetti western and Eric's wah-wah laden solo that that comes from nowhere and eclipses most things done before or since. Things quieten down slightly with the old blues staple "Sitting On Top Of The World". "Passing The Time" is probably the albums weakest track, but has a nice hypnotic feel to it. "As You Said" is an weird track for Cream, cos it's acoustic. It's very creepy at points, but brillient - it's probably the first time someone thought of putting a cello with an acoustic guitar. "Pressed Rat And Worthog" is a very funny (what's this!?! humor on a rock album!) and adds a variety to an album already laden with different types of music. "Politician" takes us back to good ol' blues with a crunching base riff. "Those Were The Days" isn't a classic by all means, but still packs a punch. "Born Under A Bad Sign" is an excellent cover version of another blues track. "Deserted Cities Of The Heart" is a fantastic ending to the first disc, with violins, acoustic guitars and a fiery solo from Clapton. However it's not till we get to the "Live At The Fillmore" disc do we get to hear Cream in all their glory.

The second disc starts off with "Crossroads"; the quintessential Clapton track. It takes an old fashioned blues song by Robert Johnson (yeah the guy who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads to be a good guitar player) and brings it bang up to date with a furious beat and the inferno that is Eric's guitar playing. The solo is quite simply genius. It's worth buying the album just to hear this track. "Spoonful" is yet again a blues cover, and provides the guys a simple basis to go all out and over the top. Jack's singing is better than ever and the 10+ min improvisation is classic Cream, with everyone going crazy, especially Eric. "Traintime" gives Jack a chance to show off. Ginger keeps a locomotive beat as Jack gets jiggy with the harmonica while singing yet again in great voice (yes men can multi-task aswell). Heaven knows how he keeps it up for 7 mins without collapsing. And then the track stops with Eric crancking out the distortion on his guitar for "Toad", Ginger Baker's tour de force. After 2 mins 23 secs Jack and Eric leave Ginger to it, and we're treated to a quarter of an hour of the best drummer in the business - mesmerizing.

It's a classic. Buy it now!
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VINE VOICEon 23 August 2000
This album is momentous.I can think of nothing else that has so musically defined an era.Clapton,Bruce and Baker tore into the blues and redefined it for a generation.Yes,they became excessive but they still shine as an outstanding example of musical ability.Their live recordings on this album in particular show them at their best......A great,great album from a great,great band.
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on 8 October 2015
I first bought this on vinyl while still at school. Hearing it now on CD only confirms to me why it had such an effect back then. Three musicians at the top of their game with Eric Clapton arguably the least gifted or the three on his chosen instrument.

A wonderful studio album and a wonderful live album. I will never tire of listening to 16 minutes of Spoonful. And was it not Crossroads that led John peel to quip "and now tell me there are only three of them. A great combination of talent, energy and creativity.
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on 1 September 2000
Each one of creams three musicians was the master of his instrument! Cream were and always will remain the best rock band ever. This album as the rest are proof that they invented the heavy rock genre!
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