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here is a good Cream review:
Date: Tue, 03 May 2005 07:19:19 -0000
From: "electricgypsys" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: With Egos Set Aside and Blues on Its Mind, Cream Reunites
With Egos Set Aside and Blues on Its Mind, Cream
LONDON, May 2 - Cream was a crisp, tautly rehearsed band on Monday night
in its first full-length concert since 1968. Eric Clapton on guitar, Jack
bass and Ginger Baker on drums sounded as if they had every song mapped
out from introductory riff to precise finish. Their voices were strong;
musicianship was impeccable. Their set list even had a few surprises.
Cream was back at the Royal Albert Hall, where it had played the final
of its two-year career on Nov. 26, 1968. Between then and now, Cream's only
reunion was to play three songs when it was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll
Hall of Fame in 1993. Monday's concert was the first of four sold-out shows
being filmed for the inevitable DVD; plans beyond that have not been
announced. Scalpers were getting $1,000 a ticket.
"Thanks for waiting all these years," Mr. Clapton said onstage. "We didn't
very long. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune cut us off in our
Mr. Baker spoke up: "This is our prime, what do you mean?"
Yet the neatness and order of the music were precisely what made Cream's
first return engagement underwhelming. It wasn't unity that made Cream one
of the great 1960's rock bands. It was the same friction - of
methods and ambitions - that would soon tear the band apart.
>From July 1966 to November 1968, Cream came up with songs that were an
unlikely blend of Anglicized blues, eccentric pop structures, psychedelic
surrealism, melancholia and comic relief. Along with the Jimi Hendrix
Experience, Cream would define both power-trio rock and the potential of
In its most incendiary 1960's shows, Cream played like three simultaneous
soloists, relentlessly competitive and brilliantly volatile. Back then, Mr.
didn't need Robert Johnson's hellhound on his trail; he had Mr. Baker and
Bruce snapping at his heels, goading him with bass countermelodies and
bursts of polyrhythm. It was the brashness of youth in sync with the
experimental spirit of the era. Cream played with reckless intensity, as if
that all the risks would pay off; most often, they did.
Since Cream broke up, Mr. Clapton has had million-selling albums, Grammy
Awards and regular arena tours; his music has grown more temperate. Mr.
Bruce followed his musicianly impulses, starting other rock trios
one in 1994 with Mr. Baker) while also delving into jazz and various
Mr. Baker joined Mr. Clapton's short-lived supergroup, Blind Faith, and
on to build West Africa's first modern recording studio in Nigeria, to farm
in Tuscany and to run a club in Denver.
Mr. Clapton, at 60 the youngest member of Cream, was the most reluctant to
reunite the group, and on Monday night, the reunited Cream deferred to him.
Lately, his albums have circled back to the blues he has loved since the
beginning of his career, and Cream's concert set leaned toward blues. There
were borrowed ones, like "I'm So Glad," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Spoonful"
"Outside Woman Blues" along with Cream's own blues, like "Politician," and
Clapton showcase that's not part of the Cream discography, "Stormy Monday
Blues." When Mr. Clapton took a guitar solo, he played the kind of
melodic leads, moving from symmetrical phrases to wailing peaks, that he
unfolds with his own bands, while Mr. Bruce and Mr. Baker carefully nailed
down the riff and the beat. They didn't challenge him much.
Mr. Baker had some rambunctious moments, dropping sly snare-drum rolls
into "Sitting on Top of the World" and "Stormy Monday Blues." With his band
mates offstage, he took a five-minute drum solo during "Toad" that was
considerably shorter than the live recording from 1968. He also talk-sang
most unexpected song in the set, "Pressed Rat and Warthog," about
shopkeepers with a peculiar inventory, then joked afterward about stocking
Cream T-shirts and memorabilia.
There were stretches in "Sweet Wine" and "Sunshine of Your Love" where
Cream started to hint at its old improvisatory free-for-all. But those
were brief, quickly heading back to the song. "Crossroads," which Cream
once turned into a psychedelic fireball, returned as straightforward
not bad, but not revelatory.
The other side of Cream's repertory - Mr. Bruce's songs, like "White Room,"
"N.S.U." and "Deserted Cities of the Heart" - has aged differently. They,
had a blues feeling, but more in their despondent lyrics then in their
which stretched pop structures. Nearly four decades later, the songs have
grown even more telling, as the mishaps of youth have given way to the
irrevocable losses and regrets of maturity. Mr. Bruce sings them no less
clearly now, but with far more poignancy. As Mr. Baker rolled mallets
his tom-toms, Mr. Clapton played slow swells of guitar and Mr. Bruce rose
the melody's falsetto peaks, "We're Going Wrong" - written on the way to
Cream's 1968 breakup - was lambent in its sorrow.
Perhaps Cream's caution reflected first-night jitters about living up to
of anticipation. In a set that lasted less than two hours, there was ample
for songs to expand if the chemistry was right. With any luck, Cream was