Top critical review
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Worth buying mainly for the live 'Sunshine Of Your Love', and an alternative live 'Politician'
on 2 November 2008
There are also some very stirring vocals from Jack Bruce on 'Deserted Cities Of The Heart' and 'White Room' although the improvisation on WR is a bit disappointing compared to their own best efforts, mainly because the bass line comes through too strongly, and too predictably, in a couple of places. One feels that it's the sort of bass line that might be alright in jazz on a stand-up bass. But, in fact, it's also worth knowing that there is a much better mix of this track, with much wider stereo separation, on the 4disc set 'Those Were The Days' in which the whole thing works very well. In this case the wider separation seems to make the brain work harder to reconcile the counterpoint and the result is quiet exhilaration. The vocals sound much better along with everything else in this mix which is so good you can almost believe it's a different performance, and once you've heard it the one on this disc becomes redundant.
There is some good ineractive playing on 'Deserted Cities' as guitar and bass play in imitative counterpoint which works well if you get the balance right so that you don't end up just following one of them, especially if it's the bass.
Better digital remastering of these tracks, and of this performance of 'Politician', can be found on 'Those Were The Days' box set. The other live 'Politician' from 'Goodbye Cream' is not included in the box set.
The remastered 'White Room' in the 4disc set is particularly interesting as the improvisation works much better with the bass less prominent and the drums much stronger. The vocal choruses are pushed further back so that they provide a sort of atmospheric background rather than the more in-your-face interruption found here. I am not so sure that the more forward solo voice in the verse section along with the stronger drums works to the benefit of the performance but it's certainly different from the mix used on the disc here under review. But this is not one of their best live tracks and there is a better improvisation on the 'Tour' cd.
The heroic 'jouissance' of these vocals puts them in a class of their own in rock music, along with some other Bruce performances found on 'Goodbye Cream' and 'Live At The Filmore'.
The sound on 'Sunshine' is better than the sound on other tracks, with the exception of 'Stepping Out' which is also pretty good. But 'Stepping Out' is not the sort of track that you want to play very often; furthermore it's not really Cream, because it's rhythms are conventional and it's not contrapuntal in terms of it's bass/lead lines either. This was a party piece Clapton was playing before the formation of Cream. It's a pity that 'Steppin' took up so much space on the original vinyl leaving no room for another more characteristic Cream number.
In relation to any rock album by any other group I would give this 5 stars.