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on 8 February 2011
Looking at the reviews of this album, it's interesting to note that the vast majority of those who rave about this album got into it in the 60s, or roughly at the time it came out. There is always a danger in such a case of not rating something objectively, as the emotional connection often overrides the actual quality of the music. I too feel the same way about some of the albums I grew up with. Now I have all the albums from the name bands of the 60s, and a vast amount of psych, blues and 60s/70s rock in my collection, so although I expect some negative comments on my review, please understand this is not the criticism of a novice, newbie or metalhead.

If you're expecting the following, you're going to be very disappointed with this album:

(1) Mind-blowing guitar-playing: compare the guitar-playing on this to Hendrix' 'Are You Experienced' (1967) and 'Axis:Bold As Love' (1968), to Johnny Winter's first album recorded in 1968, or Jimmy Page's playing on the first Led Zeppelin album (recorded late '68), and there's a vast, vast difference in the level of guitar-playing. It's like comparing someone reciting the alphabet with someone reading Shakespeare. If you're an electric guitar-player, you may spend years with your guitar, the sheet-music to Axis:Bold As Love, and the album itself without being able to duplicate much of what Hendrix does, especially on the rhythm side. But the advantage of being a Cream fan is that Clapton's licks, solos, and rhythm on this album are well within the reach of any amateur who sets his mind to it. Note that I don't say Clapton can't play well, but ability on this album is downplayed in favour of effects and attempts at psychedelia. Which brings me to the next thing not to expect...
(2) Mind-blowing psychedelia: One of the best things about Disraeli Gears is no doubt the album cover, and that alone has led to many mistaken purchases of this album in my experience. Some of these songs are borderline psychedelia, but generally it's more like pop-blues with some psych elements coming from the use of fuzz and wah. Finally, don't expect...
(3) Excellent blues: listen to Hendrix' 'Red House' (the original version from Oct 1966 found on the newer versions of 'Are You Experienced' or on the 'Blues' album), or Johnny Winter's 'Be Careful With A Fool' from his first album. As I've stated above, to anyone who knows anything about good guitar-playing, who actually plays themselves, or who've tried to work on songs by these guys and Clapton, there's just no comparison. Winter and Hendrix still make the mouth drop with their playing, while Clapton's playing sounds tired and cliched today, and generally relies on effects on this album.

I'm not writing this review to irritate Clapton fans, although that is bound to happen, but I'm also not writing it just to collect positive votes. Instead, if I can warn one person away from a mistaken purchase for every ten who give me a negative vote, then I consider my job done. As a consolation to Eric's fans, let me just say that I recently saw that all-star concert from a couple years ago where he plays live with Stevie Winwood, etc, and was pretty much blown away by Eric's playing. The man can play! And better than he ever did in the 60s! While poor old Johnny Winter can't hold a straw to him now...

If you absolutely must have some Cream in your music collection rather go for the old Best of Cream compilation. That has most of the best songs on this album, and you're not forced to listen to the weak tracks like World of Pain or Dance the Night Away, or the embarrassing ones like Blue Condition or Mother's Lament.
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on 26 March 2016
An appaling mess of drug fuelled cacophany. Some great original toons but a speedball heroin symphony.. Clapton is and aways was a lousy singer and a fast but derivative guitar player. Ginger and Jack should have joined Jimi. Now tjere would have been a band.Gimme the first Paul Butterfield album anyday
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on 24 April 2008
If you're thinking of buying 'Disraeli Gears' this is the one to get. The stereo mix on the first disc is far from satisfactory on most stereo equipment because of the way the drums are presented - much too isolated on the extreme right and too lightweight, with the guitar too isolated on the extreme left; unless you have a system with particularly heavy and tight mid-bass clout, then it's probably the mono version on the second disc that works best for the 5 most important tracks on the album (Sunshine, Ulysses, We're Going Wrong, Outside Woman Blues and SWLABR) with the drums much heavier and better integrated into the texture. This Deluxe Edition is the only way of getting the mono mix on CD.

Also on the mono disc you get the live BBC studio versions of all the numbers associated with this album plus 'Politician' 'Sitting on Top of the World' and 'Stepping Out'. These tracks are also found on 'Cream:the BBC Sessions' but here the sound is much improved.
Unfortunately 'Sunshine' from the BBC sessions is not included and so one has to put up with the really bad sound of this track on the earlier album. Why?
But the BBC recordings of 'Tales of Brave Ulysses', 'We're Going Wrong' and SWLABR three of their best numbers, are good alternative versions to the ones on 'Gears' and will help to keep your responses fresh. They are very close to the album versions but they are different enough. 'Outside Woman Blues' has an interestingly different guitar solo.
For those like myself who can't stand 'Strange Brew' in the commercially released version there is the much more 'authentic' live version they did for the BBC with a single solo singing voice instead of the sickening double tracked one. In this form it sounds like what it is: a simple blues. Even better is the original blues it is based on called 'Lawdy Mama', the out-take of which is also included here' If only this had been used for the album as released instead of the atrocious kitsch which is 'Strange Brew'. This crime against good taste should have offended far more people than it has, and unfortunately to this day in this country it is the first thing that comes to mind for the un-initiated when the name Cream is mentioned since it was their only chart success here - in the States, thank god, it was 'Sunshine Of Your Love'.
One of the most interesting things is an ur-version of 'Politician' showing it still in the process of creation with provisional lyrics, later rejected, and played much faster. they were obviously having fun on this one.
SWLABR has much more rhythmic vitality than the familiar version and most enjoyable. The same is true of 'Steppin Out' which is better and faster than the one on Live Cream Vol.2.
In addition, on the first disc, there are some demos of a few other numbers otherwise only available on the over expensive and badly conceived 'Those Were the Days' 3 CD set which doesn't have the mono mix.

But the live albums are more important. See my reviews.
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on 8 February 2008
Hasn't anyone who has reviewed this apart from 'Top Cat' noticed how unnatural and lightweight the drums sound on many of these tracks when heard in stereo. But it does sound a lot more satisfactory on systems with fairly thudding, heavy but tight bass; that does go a long way towards binding it all together

40 years ago when I first got to know this it was a mono copy I had - on vinyl of course. When I acquired a CD copy some years ago at first I couldn't understand why I felt so let down but I soon realized that it was the stereo mix that was to blame; it was neither the quality of sound with the transfer to digital nor the music itself thankfully, although not having heard my old copy for some years, for a short time I was uncertain whether my old estimation of it had been correct. But no, when I was able to hear my old mono pressing again I found it was as good as ever, and there are not many things in rock I can say that about. It's still not as good as the best of their live recordings, but I never thought it was. And it's not as good on CD, even in mono, as it is on vinyl, perhaps because a stereo cartridge playing a mono disc seems to give you a certain amount of right left separation, but it's still pretty good. See my review of the Deluxe Edition.
In referring to the stereo mix I am referring to all 3 stereo masterings that I have heard on CD, including the latest. One thing I can't complain about is the QUALITY of sound in stereo which is certainly very easy on the ears. It's not the quality that's in doubt it's whether the stereo sound stage and balance of the drums works well for the music.
Heard in a mixture of mono and stereo I would give it 5 stars. The most important improvement made by listening in mono on certain tracks is the difference it makes to the drums. In stereo the drums are too isolated on the right and sound rather tentative and half-hearted. They sound so light someone has described them as sounding as if Baker was using practice pads. But in mono they sound heavier and punchier, adding density. The stereo separation is made worse because often the lead guitar is on the extreme left, as far away from the drums as possible. But it's a moot point whether Baker's genius for using offbeats in the bar to place his stresses, and for suspending stresses where you expect them to be, is clearer and more effective when heard in mono or stereo. This is vital in Cream. Without it a lot of the tension and release of tension is lost.
What I have said applies especially to the 5 most important tracks on the album, namely Sunshine, Ulysses, SWLABR, Outside Woman Blues, and to a lesser extent We're Going Wrong.
The wide stereo mix takes a lot of getting used to on these crucial tracks, especially because of what happens to the drums. It really shouldn't be too difficult to put it right with another remastering even if the original multi-tracks were lost in the 1976 fire.
I get to play things on a great many stereo systems and I have noticed that on some systems the stereo mix is not such a great problem because they emphasize the bottom end of the drums by fattening it, but systems like this are unusual. But, in general, the more high-end the equipment is the worse this sounds.
Combining the right and left channels does not work with 'Disraeli Gears', as it does with 'Fresh Cream', because the drums just aren't quite loud enough in the stereo mix, and played in mono mode they are even less loud, even if they are better placed. There is no choice, therefore, but to get the Deluxe Edition with the original mono mix.

It has to be said though that the first track 'Strange Brew' is complete rubbish whether you hear it in mono or stereo. It is just a kitsch version of 'Lawdy Mama' which can be heard as one of the demos. What a pity they couldn't have put that as the first track. It's not particularly noteworthy being nothing much more than a conventional blues but it has more credibility than the synthetic thing they made out of it. But Strange Brew is the one irritating blot on one of the best studio albums to come from the 60s. Mind you, there are two live versions of Brew which are quite respectable and if they were to replace the studio production normally presented I would be perfectly happy. One of these live versions can easily be found in the BBC recordings and is even included in the 'De Luxe Disraeli Gears.
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on 16 June 2000
Released in 1967, Disraeli Gears incorporates sublime blues derived classics such as "Strange Brew," and also some psychadelic tunes such as "World of Pain," which capture perfectly the mood of 1967. Eric Clapton's guitar comes into it's own on the album as he contributes superb licks to many of the tracks especially the classic "Sunshine of your love," Overall it is a must have for any good music collection.
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on 27 November 2015
This has been heralded as Cream's best album. It was recorded when they first went to America with the help of Tom Down, engineer, and Felix Papallardi producing, and is a much more sophisticated and psychadelically influenced record than the earlier 'Fresh Cream'. The majority of the songs display Jack Bruce's composing talents and Pete Browns poetic writing ability. It was a real trend setting innovatory work when it first came out ('Disreali Gears' actually came about from someone mispronouncing 'Derailleur Gears' which were popular on racing bicycles at the time.) It's a shame Cream broke up so soon as they were, and this LP was, years before its time. Cover design by Martin Sharp, who helped write 'Tales of Brave Ulysses' which was actually inspired by Sharp going on holiday to the Greek Islands, particularly the one where Ulysses was supposed to have been tempted by the Sirens, and it came out of that (not Bruce /Clapton reading Homer's Odyssey unfortunately - much more pragmatic origins).
Still a real landmark recording.
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Disraeli Gears is one of the first heavy albums ever recorded. Songs like Tales Of Brave Ulysses and Sunshine Of Your Love were so powerful they had a big impact on me when I was a teenager. At the time I played those 2 tracks over and over trying to copy the riffs and get the same feel as Clapton had back in 1967. The rawness of the sound and Ginger Bakers amazing drumming with Jack Bruce's great vocals and bass playing made Cream a formidable band over 40 years ago.
Songs such as SWABR and Strange Brew give this album some consistency. However there are a few tracks that I have never been fond of, they can be described as fillers. Cream probably thought they were humorous. Mothers Lament is awful and the track Blue Condition is also very weak.
Disraeli Gears could have been an even more amazing classic if they had more time than the week they allowed to record the album in New York back in 1967. It was actually a rushed affair because of the amount of time they had left on their work visa. There was also some resentment from the record company to the material Jack was recording incredibly.
Saying this the fact is history has given us this group of songs and they have formed a very successful album that was a big seller.
Disraeli Gears is a classic blues rock album that helped form a heavier form of music that by the end of the 1960s become hard rock and eventually heavy metal.
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on 11 March 2010
Whilst debate continues to rage as to the identity of the 'first' heavy metal album- Truth: Remastered,Led Zeppelin I: Remastered,In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida and many others vie for the title- few could doubt the influence of Disreali Gears on the upcoming generation of Sabbaths and Priests.

The Hendrix-influenced Sunshine of Your Love still stands today as a template for monolithic acid-rock and it is hard to deny that the speed and drive of SWLABR must have atleast pricked the ears of Claptons contemporaries Beck and Page. However, although it is true that DG stands as a highly influential album, its pallette is not limited to the hard and heavy. Strange Brew melts Albert King guitar licks with Barrett era Floyd imagery (The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was released earlier in the year) and the psychadelic influences of 1967 are felt throughout the album lyrically (not least in the cod-cockney Mothers Lament which references both the Kinks ans Small Faces in its obvious affection for the kitsch of English music-hall culture.)

Musically the album reflects a golden time in the development of the trios musical ability- more assertive than their offerings on Fresh Cream, yet without the musical excesses that would later dog the band. Bakers heavy use of the toms for example throughout the album are effective yet restrained. Although Clapton would arguably reach the nadir of his status as 'guitar hero' with the release of the extended live Crossroads solo on Wheels Of Fire, he manages to escape the limits of his reverential blues repetoir, and shines briefly as an artist with his own unique, vocal, lead guitar style. Bruce continues to defy blues-bass confines with subversive jazz voicings and an assertive, driving tone.

Many say that Creams musicians- and Clapton in particular- peaked their careers in this band. If this is so, then Disreali Gears qualifies as not just their greates collective achievement, but a remarkable highlight in the lives of 3 talented musicians.
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on 6 May 2016
Just got and played this classic... Abbey Road half speed re-master.
Well, on my Quad TannoyThorens set up.
I am not impressed! The sound is nothing to write home about.
You don't even get a antistatic iner sleeve.
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on 19 March 2015
2015: for the first time in decades I put the original vinyl disc on to listen to the whole thing, start to finish, and was saddened to hear a skip. No wonder I hadn't been listening. Now, thanks to this digital version, I can listen to it on my phone (with no skips or scratches). Over the years we've seen what a slacker Clapton could be, but in this lineup, and on this album, he still had something to prove. Think I'm going to fire up 'Outside Woman Blues' right now.
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