Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cream – Goodbye

Though the band had already decided to break up by the time they recorded this album, this is still a remarkably high-quality record. This is true even though they didn’t have enough new material so that half of the album was live recordings of previous released tunes and half were new studio recordings but all are great!

Opening with their terrific version of Skip James’ “I’m So Glad”, which first appeared on their debut record, they extend this with a wild, jamming solo section in which everyone gets to strut their stuff! While some may find this a little excessive, I still enjoy hearing their amazing playing and cool interaction.

Their riff-rock pounder, “Politician”, is included in a live setting, as well, although it had been released on their preceding album, Wheels of Fire. A hot take, though not wildly different from the studio recording.

“Sitting on Top of the World”, the Howling Wolf number, had come out on WOF, as well and this take is so similar that it is literally only 3 seconds longer than the studio version! But this shows them at their bluesy best!

The studio side is a pretty big change from their live cuts – they really were almost two different bands at times – the blues/rock trio and the experimental/psych/pop band (actually I suppose that makes more than two!).

One of my favorite Clapton songs is one that he co-wrote with George Harrison (before absconding with his wife) simply called “Badge”. The title comes from a bit of a stoner in-joke – I guess they were writing down the sections and George wrote “bridge” for the middle section, Eric thought it said “badge” and for some reason they thought this was so hilarious that they used it as the title!

Anyway, this is a terrific, rockin’ pop tune with some superbly pretty playing by Clapton and nice keyboard embellishments by producer Felix Pappalardi. Melodic with a groovy beat and really clever songwriting.

“Doing That Scrapyard Thing” is a Bruce/Brown eclectic composition that is keyboard dominant and something that they would or could never have attempted live. Obviously, Bruce was attempting to break boundaries even more that Clapton, who seemed much happier in a blues setting. Still, a nice psych-pop tune.

The record closes with “What a Bringdown”, a fitting finale for a short-lived but much-loved group. This is a Ginger Baker outing, and is suitably eccentric with a Dave Brubeck “Take Five” beat on the choruses balanced with poppy verses. He wisely let Bruce sing this one and it turns out to be one of his best numbers. Really strong bridge section here, also, and fine playing all around.

I’m sure that many fans would have preferred a full album of new material, especially considering the two live albums that came out shortly after this one, but regardless, this is still a respectable and extremely listenable final outing.