After the first two successful Cream albums, there were emerging problems within Cream itself. It seemed that, regardless of anything, the group did not get along well with each other, and fought constantly around this time. Still, there was some amazing music to be made, and this album was well-received upon release.
Does it stand the test of time? Let’s find out.
We begin with the iconic White Room. It has a strange-sounding beginning with an unusual riff and delves deeply into a psychedelic story. It sounds fantastic to this day and is a standout Cream tune. Wah-wah guitar is here, adding a nice touch to the whole piece. A great song is here. It’s a great extended psychedelic piece for us to sink our teeth into. It ends with some awesome solo playing by Eric Clapton, sound very much like Jimi Hendrix.
Next is Sitting On Top Of The World which is a wonderful sounding effort by Cream. It starts at a downtempo pace, before progressing into a beautiful song. It is so well structured here that it sounds very awesome in a musical context. Cream were truly the cream of the crop, and this song shows no exception to that. Some beautiful guitar solos by Eric Clapton shine here, once again. There is a sense of urgency here to this number, although it is at a medium tempo. Great stuff.
Passing The Time is about that. It starts mainly with vocal harmonies, before going into a beautiful keyboard part. Jack Bruce then begins singing gently with some violining guitar. It talks about observing winter in the lyrics, and a lovely theme to go with it. It then goes bang into a great and faster solo based session from the three men, before switching back to the lullaby-like section. It ends abruptly.
As You Said begins with catchy strummed acoustic guitars and some interesting string instrumentation. It’s a mellow listen compared to what has come before, with an air of melancholy about it. It’s very good quality and beautiful listening here. A great song, and a must-listen for Cream fans. It has an air of suspense about it, too. Brilliantly done.
Following is Pressed Rat And Warthog which is a wacky psychedelic story about two animals who failed in their wacky business idea of selling interesting things. It’s a great listen, sober or high. A great listen from the group, a much more subtle and interesting tune than your average psychedelic piece. Great music. An ode to British culture. The guitar solo at the end, once again, is fantastic.
The creepy sounding number Politician talks about politics, in a riddle sort of way. It has some excellent lyrics here, “I support the left, though I’m leaning, leaning, to the right.” A great song, and no doubt a mammoth one when played live, as is here. Good job boys, that’s how you make a political song. An epic and psychedelic listen to the dark world of politics. There is a good musicality here as well, the riff here is unforgettable.
Those Were The Days has Jack Bruce singing about unusual subject matter, with church bells. A refreshing and interesting listen, this music here blows away much contemporary music today. Eric Clapton does super good here, his playing is ten times better than it was on the first Cream album. All three men of Cream are supergroup heroes though.
Born Under A Bad Sign is a great rendition of a blues classic. It tells the tale of bad luck conflicting with one’s life. “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all,” sings Jack Bruce. Fortunately, we are blessed with luck to hear such a well delivered and great musical tune. This is great music here.
Next up is Deserted Cities Of The Heart is another listenable and consistent song by Cream. It’s another classic British tale and sends us into a road trip to said location. A beautiful and wonderful tune, which pounds loudly during the solo sections of the song, courtesy of drummer Ginger Baker. It’s a great sentiment and another legendary song before we head into the second half of the recording.
Following is the song that was never officially released by Cream, but a fan favourite named Crossroads – Live. The riff here is legendary. It also has Eric Clapton singing in the first part of the song, a strange piece on this recording as Eric Clapton never sang in Cream, due to shyness. It is a great and underrated piece to listen to. The soloing here is mammoth, Eric Clapton was and is a guitar legend. The sound here is awesome.
Spoonful – Live is an extended version of the original on the Fresh Cream album. Eric Clapton’s playing soars through the mix and the rest of the band are on top form. It’s a refreshing listen. The whole thing is perfectly done, and very tight as a band sonically. The three here are just fantastic, showing that they could really make music that was timeless. The jam is long and trippy, but that should not deter you from listening to it. The jam goes through a large variety of structures and ingeniousness that one needs to hear every note here. A great and inspired piece of music. It separates into multiple sections and seems effortless. Eric Clapton’s tone here is fantastic. It returns back into the main section of the song towards the end, making it a fantastic listen. It ends dramatically, a great listen.
Traintime – Live begins with a great harmonica section before launching into a timeless blues number. Ginger Baker supplies subtle rolling drums to boot. It is a great live performance, once again. Cream excel here and do brilliantly. Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were legends in their own right, as well as Eric Clapton, although Clapton is seemingly missing on this song. A great live performance.
Lastly, we have Toad – Live. Yes, it is the classic drum solo done live by Ginger Baker. It begins with the three piece jamming together nicely, before taking us onto a journey of our own with this extended jam and drum solo. Let’s just say that this has to be listened to for it to be believed, Ginger Baker was one great drummer in the late 1960s. His drumming here is fantastic.
Put simply, this album is an almost flawless listen, start to finish. Sadly, it did not last for Cream. They called it quits shortly after this album. Regardless, this album is a wonderful effort by Cream and is a necessary addition to your collection.