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Cream + New Years Eve « Previous | |Next »
January 01, 2007

We watched the Cream reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall in May 2005 on ABC last night, after the Melbourne leg of the Eagles Farewell tour. The latter was boring ---a corporate rock act taken to the road by slick businessmen who knew exactly what the public wanted to consume, and they provided it to them for millions. It was a slick performance that was low on sincerity or creativity.

The Cream concert was in complete contrast. A musical suprise.

Jill Furmanovsky, Cream Reunion, London, 2005

My memory of Cream was that they were at the forefront of free-improvisation during 1966-1968---around the time that the Grateful Dead were coming into their own--Fillmore West, 1969 --- whilst Coltrane and Ornette Coleman were at the forefront of the free-improvisation movement in jazz.

Baker, Clapton and Bruce hadn't played together for 35 years but they sure sounded pretty good in the reunion concert, and they created some good music more for the head and less for the body. The music took precedence over personality, notwithstanding the history of the band. Were they making new music as opposed to simply recapitulating the old?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 03:35 PM | | Comments (6)


Well I'm a fan of both bands and while the Eagles are architypical heritage rock, they are consumate musicians, they work hard at staying good (well, maybe except for poor old Joe Walsh who struggles to string two words together now and his axework ain't up to much either) and I'd dispute the lack of sincerity. You know what you're going to get - it was as good as if not better than 1995 Hell Freezes Over - and while that might be corporate, it's also highly professional.
Cream were a bit of a shock really. I'd expected Ginger Baker to be the decrepit one (I remember a clip of him, joint in mouth and stoned to the eyeballs, giving a drumming lesson back in the early 70s) but Jack Bruce's appearance made Keith Richards look good! As the broadcast was taken from 3 nights (I think) performances, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of dross was left on the cutting room floor (or whatever the digital equivalent is). At their peak Cream were extremely tight and actually not as goven to extended free form raves as the Dead - at leats on record, live performances may have been different. Of course Clapton's been a working muso all these years so you could compare him more to the Eagles, in fact. Jack Bruce came alive in a couple of the songs and he can still work that bloody bass fretboard when he puts his mind to it.

well that judgement is far more judicious than mine.Yes, the Eagles do work hard at looking good and they do deliver on what you expect.And yet----something is missing; that creative spark that lightens up the music and takes it somewhere else.They were the heirs to the Flying Burrito Brothers' explorations in country rock, but not as groundbreaking. Gram Parson's judgement of the Eagles --bubblegum--may be a bit harsh, as they did write some good songs.

I understand that Jack Bruce has been very sick --he was diagnosed with liver cancer, Bruce underwent a liver transplant in 2003, which nearly proved fatal as his body initially rejected the new organ. He has since recovered.Hence the appearance.

He is still a working musician and regularly making albums. I haven't heard any since the early ones after Cream broke up.I read somewhere that Brice plays the bass as if it were a lead guitar.

Gary - all fair calls, I had lost track of what Jack Bruce and co had been up to I must admit. I bought Disraeli Gears when it came out which earned my father's wrath: why why I listening to that bloody rubbish when I should have been studying for the HSC?

yeah I owned Disraeli Gears--I remember struggling with it's musial complexity.I saw Cream as very avant garde.

What upsets me about these guys now is that very little of their music is online.If I am interested in reconnecting with their work--eg., Jack Bruce, then I need a way to explore it the older albums. Why aren't these online for me to sample--they could put up outtakes or discarded versions for me to hear.

I didn't watch either show and I've not yet got myself well set up to record tv digitally. I do have a tuner in one PC but theres a complicated issue about where the existing aerial outlets are and adding more do to signal strength etc etc. Even when I have recorded to PC transfering to DVD has been a major operation.

I have no desire to watch the Eagles or listen to them, except I'm forced to acknowledge that a limited "best of car tape / cd" works well while highway driving - everything has its uses.

I assumed the Cream would be similar recycled highlights with the additional worry that it could decend into loud sludge.

Jack Bruce's career post Cream has been always worth a listen, something I couldn't say about Clapton. I have a bit of his stuff with Kip Hanrahan and I listen to it regularly.

The review you pointed to does suggest this might contain some new approaches and be a performance well worth catching up with.


My memory of the live version of spoonful on one of the albums was sludge--it never really took off as a jam and created a musical experience. I dreaded that.

But the concert was actually a musical experience--it is worth watching if you can get a DVD from your local video store.

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