I am getting very tired of Greatest Hits compilations, especially with Cream. Every time I turn around, another one's on the record rack. Some are great. Others suck (20th Century Masters...), and some are simply there. I was a little hesitant to bother with this, the latest of Creams' post-humous releases, but soon found that my fears and musings were baseless.
Quite simply, "Gold" delivers the goods in nearly every concievable way. "I Feel Free" may take time to grow on you, but once it does it grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go. The album continues in this vein, delivering some good ("N.S.U"), and some bad ("Sweet Wine") until we stumble across a song entitled "Sunshine Of Your Love". At first I found the song boring, but after learning the guitar solo, I feel it deserves all the credit in the world, if not just for Clapton and his subtle genius.
"World Of Pain" begins with a rather boring intro with frankly stupid lyrics. "Outside my window, is a tree." But don't skip it yet my friend, for by the time Ginger Baker comes in on drums it's apparent just how groovin' this number is. Clapton also makes great use of wah on the guitar, for neither the first nor last time. I was starting to enjoy this album quite a bit actually, though I wasn't sure if this would be an album I'd listen to again. And then came "Tales Of Brave Ulysses". This song is seriously incredible. Everyone on the band is flying, and While Mr. Bruce isn't pounding out a particularly complicated bass pattern, it does contribute greatly to the melody and feel.
Mr. Clapton then delivers a mind melting solo, and if you combine this with excellent lyrics, you've got yourself one hell of a song. "Swlabr" is next, and it's just weird. The lyrics are obviously referring to acid, and even the chord progression screams, "Psychedelic!". However, once again there's gold in them thar hills, and upon deeper inspection I've found it to be a really soulful and catchy track.
After glossing over the unusually dull "We're Going Wrong", I come across a little song called "White Room". Man does this song kick some ass. Great drumming, varied singing, and suave guitar playing makes for a truly phenomonal listen. Shivers down the spine and all. The album carries on with some of the oddest compositions Cream ever made. "Passing The Time" begins with weird Indian chanting, before melting into what almost sounds like a lullaby. Just as your getting nestled in to the fantasty-esque melody, It erupts into a groove where Jack continuosly shouts "Passing The Time!" over and over. Pretty cool I guess. Amusing if nothing else.
And on the album goes, giving us some rocking songs such as "Deserted Cities Of The Heart". It also contibutes some straight blues covers, such as "Born Under A Bad Sign". I've never found these covers to be particularly interesting, but they do have style. The last songs Cream ever recorded, "Badge", "Doing That Scrapyard Thing", and "What A Bringdown" hold up remarkebly well, and all are very catchy in their own unique way, and are featured on the "Goodbye" album.
The live disc is somewhat disappointing, as it is not Cream at their best. However, there are still some gems to be found here, such as a lovely "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "Rollin' and Tumblin'". There's also a version of "Crossroads", and it's the same live version on every other compilation album. I'm rather tired of this song actually, but ot does feature some memorable blues work. Interesting if nothing else.
Some of the more familiar Cream fans might think of this as I did, just another Cream compilation. And that's really all it is. But it does have a collection of great songs on one disc, some of which I didn't mention, and is a fantastic way to be introduced to one of the finest ensembles of musicians of the sixties. Not a must have, but it's sure as hell convenient. 4/5