Cream
Disraeli Gears


4.5
superb

Review

by Mr. Lean Mug USER (112 Reviews)
July 31st, 2006 | 101 replies


Release Date: 1967 | Tracklist


Cream, in a lot of ways, are the perfect band. There can be no doubting that, as bands go, Cream brought more talent to the table than most. Being among the first of the original "power trio" supergroups, Cream fused the brilliant potential of three of the most prominent musicians of the 60s together to create something wonderful. Eric Clapton, most famous for his part in The Yardbirds and efforts alongside John Mayall, offered Cream his soon-to-be-legendary silkily adept blues-rock guitar lines to the mix. Handling bass and drum duties respectively, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were one of the hottest rhythm sections in the business. The unique fusion of Clapton's blues styles and Bruce and Baker's jazz influences created a new type of pop-psychedelic sensation. The world, and music in general, would never be the same. Cream truly were as smooth as their name would lead you to believe.

Disraeli Gears, Cream's second album, is perhaps the best example of everything that made the band so wonderful. Any weaknesses that Cream may have displayed on their debut, Fresh Cream, were seemingly fixed, creating a package of overall polish that was rivaled by few albums of the time. Perhaps one of Cream's greatest flaws was their ineptitude when it came to general songwriting. While the instrumentation as well as the complete package was always of excellent quality, one almost always had to admit that Cream, as a band, as songwriters, left much to be desired. With Disraeli Gears, however, Cream received help from lyricist Pete Brown. With Brown's help, anchored by the production values of Felix Pappalardi, Cream managed to put forth what is arguably the best material of their career.

Eric Clapton's guitar playing on Disraeli Gears, for example, is masterful. The buttery sounds of his lightly overdriven Stratocasters hold the entire album together, while enthralling and captivating any listener fortunate enough to hear the music. Clapton manages to lay down some of the most legendary riffs of all time, such as "Sunshine of Your Love." Aside from being one of Cream's best-known songs (as well as having been inspired by a Jimi Hendrix performance) "Sunshine of Your Love" is also their raw potential in a nutshell. The solo is actually based off of the song "Blue Moon" by Billie Holiday, as evidenced by its very beginning. Still, everything from the wonderful Grateful Dead-meet-Dylan lyrics, to the aforementioned guitar-god performance, to Bruce's vocals and Baker's drumming, "Sunshine of Your Love" is a beast of a different color one compared to other songs of the era. And it isn't even the best of the bunch. Clapton's fantastic guitar playing extends to the rest of the album, as well. The man seemed to be in a constant haze of motivation. Clapton seemed to want to outdo himself from song to song, from guitar track to guitar track. After hearing his comforting, yet engrossing work on Disraeli Gears, playing that was so ahead of its time, yet still so contemporary, it's hard to imagine that Eric Clapton could become anything less than one of the world's most beloved and respected guitar heroes.

However, that's not to say that the other two thirds of Cream were anything less than impressive. Jack Bruce, alongside Brown, did the majority of the songwriting on Disraeli Gears. His virtuosic bass work clearly harkens back to his influences, James Jameson and Charles Mingus. While Bruce's thumping bass is often overshadowed by the otherworldly guitar work of Clapton, it's still very distinctive when it needs to be on Disraeli Gears. However, if anything overshadows Bruce's musicianship on the album, it's his brilliant work as Cream's lead vocalist. Bruce hits all the right notes, managing to keep his voice in a perfect synergy and coherence alongside not only his bass playing, but Clapton's guitar and Baker's drums. Baker, on the other hand, plays the most minor role in Cream's formula on Disraeli Gears. His performance behind the skins, however, is nothing short of admirable. Disraeli Gears also plays host to an interesting moments; the song "Blue Condition" which features Baker (not usually a singer) as lead vocalist. Such interesting injections prove just how enigmatic, as well as surprising, Cream could be.

"Strange Brew," the album's first single, is one of the better examples of the harmonious clash of Cream's jazz and blues styles. Dreamy vocals from Bruce, coupled with a strong guitar riff from Clapton are fastened at the seams by Baker's superb drumming. "Strange Brew" remains one to be one of Cream's greatest moments, and is a perfect example of everything about the band working together perfectly. Interestingly enough, the song almost never came into being. "Strange Brew" was originally known as "Lawdy Mama," and if not for the influence of producer Felix Pappalardi (who re-wrote the lyrics and guitar tracks), "Strange Brew" would never have been written. "Tales of Brave Ulysess" was actually based on a poem written by Australian artist Martin Sharp (who also designed the cover art for Disraeli Gears). The miniature ballad focuses on selective interpretations of Greek Mythology, revolving most around the hero Ulysess and the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite. Cream manage to craft a two minute, forty nine second song into a masterpiece of seemingly epic proportions. "Tales of Brave Ulysess" is quite possibly Cream's greatest achievement, whether it be by music, concept, or songwriting. Given their catalog on Disraeli Gears alone, that's certainly saying something.

"World Of Pain" is an early sampling of the progressive rock that would come to dominate the airwaves during the 1970s. It is interesting to note, then, that this song (as well as Disraeli Gears and Cream on the whole) is cited by many progressive rock acts of the 70s as being a major influence. Featuring some of the most straightforward yet deep playing you'll hear from Clapton, along with subtly powerful drums, and Bruce's wonderful vocal-work, and you find yourself with yet another masterpiece of a song. The album-ending "Mother’s Lament," a song that Clapton and Baker used to pass the time during concert intermissions, could actually be considered an early prelude to post-rock. "Dance the Night Away," is a power ballad not unlike Van Halen's later song of the same title. Only much softer and more meaningful. It's interesting, though, that Eddie Van Halen should name Eric Clapton as being his own personal idol, especially when considering those two songs. "Swlabr," short for "She Walks Like a Bearded Rainbow," showcases the substance-driven inspiration of Cream, as it was based off of an acid trip.

The rest of Disraeli Gears maintains a high level of quality with few drawbacks. However, there are drawbacks, as even Cream couldn't quite make the perfect album. Disraeli Gears can actually be quite boring to listen to, thus making it somewhat hard to listen to end-to-end. Also, while the production and songwriting values are vastly improved when compared to Fresh Cream, you can easily sense that there was room for improvement. Cream, with Disraeli Gears, created an album of classic proportions, without it being quite of classic quality. Still, it's a wonderful experience for anyone who wishes to realize one of the greatest influences of modern music today. Disraeli Gears you could easily relate to your music collection as you could to cream in your coffee. Sure, it can be fine without it, but it's so much nicer when you bring them together.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2006


17920 Comments


And so it begins....

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2006


17920 Comments


I posted that before I read it. And now I read it and it was good and I voted hooray.

Zebra
Moderator
July 31st 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I always thought that this was a great record, but I can't help but think that it's slightly overrated. I remember listening to this is my basement while I was just a young chap, good times.

Bron-Yr-Aur
August 1st 2006


4405 Comments


Horrible, mind-bogglingy awful review. I'm not sure how I missed this, really. Good work.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
August 1st 2006


2806 Comments


Apparently you put this in just before midnight.

Seafroggys
August 1st 2006


60 Comments


During Cream, Clapton played GIbsons, not a Strat.

BlackDeathMetalJazz or really ANYTHING else please-
August 3rd 2006


200 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is the most overrated album to come out of the summer of love.

AsISitDying
August 4th 2006


13 Comments


"What does coffee and Eric Clapton have in common.......both suck without Cream"

John Paul Harrison
August 5th 2006


1014 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What does coffee and Eric Clapton have in common.......both suck without Cream

John Mayall, krazy kracker. Get up out ya biznatch, yo.

A fine review. The Sunshine of Your Love lead may have been based on "Blue Moon", but you might want to add that the Strange Brew solo is a note-for-note copy of Albert King's "Crosscut Saw".

Just...yeah.

Tyrion
August 5th 2006


17 Comments


Actually, I read in this month's(well, October actually...) Guitar World that Eric Clapton played on such a Pop-influenced song like Strange Brew on the condition he could play an Albert King solo.

John Paul Harrison
August 5th 2006


1014 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yep.

But really, if Clapton was so apprehensive about playing on a pop song, he would have gotten the hell out of Cream.

Maybe Clapton is trying to regain some blues-credibility.


francesfarmer
August 5th 2006


1477 Comments


Dun nun nu nun...nun...nun nun nun nuuuun nun.....

John Paul Harrison
August 5th 2006


1014 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Probably not, they had a great thing going with Cream so he's probably telling the truth.


I didn't say Cream was bad. I'm saying that it's kind of questionable that a man who left the Yardbirds for "getting away from the blues" would later ditch John Mayall and pretty much make pop songs. Great songs, mind you- but tell me Swlabr is blues.

That’s just not correct.


stompybeardo
August 5th 2006


746 Comments


jimi owns cream era clapton=discuss

John Paul Harrison
August 5th 2006


1014 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Clapton pwns Jimi pretty much always = end of discussion

stompybeardo
August 5th 2006


746 Comments


can clapton play basslines and solo at the same time along with or rythym and lead?lol

Cygnus Inter Anates
August 5th 2006


721 Comments


Could Jimi pull his head out of his ass? lol no that's why he sucks.This Message Edited On 08.05.06

John Paul Harrison
August 5th 2006


1014 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

can clapton play basslines and solo at the same time along with or rythym and lead?lol


Can Jimi not drink himself to death? lol

Clapton wins.

stompybeardo
August 5th 2006


746 Comments


those werent real arguments..lol...clapton is supported by a better bassistThis Message Edited On 08.05.06

John Paul Harrison
August 5th 2006


1014 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Jimi Hendrix elected to have average bassists. Not Clapton's problem.



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