Saturday, July 17, 2010

Goodbye Cream

Many moons ago in 1971, I received my first Cream LP as a gift – it was their official final album – released posthumously after their November 1968 disbanding. Following the break-up, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker continued together to form Blind Faith. Even though “Goodbye Cream” was their final album, ATCO (in the US) and Polydor (in the UK) continued to milk the Cream cash cow with “Best of Cream” (US only), “Live Cream,” and “Live Cream, Volume II.”

Although I had been familiar with Cream’s better known hits as “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room,” the album became a stepping stone for me owning some of their other LPs: “Fresh Cream” (the UK import with “Spoonful” instead of “I Feel Free”), “Disraeli Gears,” “Wheels of Fire,” “Live Cream,” the “Savage Seven Soundtrack,” and the “I Feel Free” single. All worth having with the exception of the “Savage Seven” LP.

I’m So Glad

One of my favorite tunes opens the album – Skip James’ “I’m So Glad.” This song originally appeared on “Fresh Cream” and the live version here was recorded at the Los Angeles Forum on October 19, 1968.

I had performed this song myself a couple of times with a band that was primarily made of members of the “Red Star Rockets,” but was called “City Chicken” for the two gigs that I played with them at the Mercer County (WV) Peace Rally and at the Nicholas County Fair – both occurring during the summer of 1989.

Me on keyboards with City Chicken. 
Al Smith (bass) & Don Steck (Guitar) can be seen


The album’s only single was a song cowritten by Eric Clapton and George Harrison who appears on the album as L’Angelo Misterioso playing the Beatlesque (of course) rhythm guitar. The unusual title came from Clapton’s misreading of George Harrison’s handwritten notes of the chord progressions. The section for the song’s bridge had BRIDGE scrawled on the top of the page – Clapton thinking that it was the title and that it said BADGE.

In the US, ATCO releases of the album and single failed to credit Harrison and his publishing concern Harrisongs. In addition to Clapton and Harrison, the song features the other two members of Cream: Jack Bruce on bass and backing vocals and Ginger Baker on drums. Producer Felix Pappalardi (later of Mountain) adds Mellotron and Piano to the tune. Of course, Clapton is on guitar and sings the lead.

What A Bringdown

Although Ginger Baker penned this tune, Eric sings lead and is joined on harmony vocals by Ginger and back-up vocals by Jack and Felix. Although the bass guitar sounds typical of Jack Bruce’s style, it is actually Felix Pappalardi playing his Gibson EB-1 (violin bass). Jack adds piano and organ and of couse Eric is on rhythm, lead, and slide guitars. If you listen closely, you can hear Ginger playing tubular bells at intricate moments in the song.

The song has one of the more interesting rhythms of any Cream song as the time signature varies from 5/4 to 3/4 time.

The Entire LP

After 1972, this album was not available in the US for a number of years as the Cream recordings were transferred from ATCO to Polydor when they began operations in the US. To compete with existing ATCO product that was available as cutouts, the first several Polydor North American Cream releases were repacked material under new names, song placement, and artwork. The first two Polydor (America) issues were named “Heavy Cream” and “Off the Top.”

My copy of “Goodbye Cream” was a cutout with a hold drilled into the upper right hand corner. Unfortunately, when the hole was drilled, the accompanying poster had shifted to that corner and the hole can be found as four holes near the poster’s center – the price for cheap music. Here’s a YouTube playlist with the album in order.

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