Cream was the original power trio and one of the leading proponents of the psychedelic blues-rock that would later morph into progressive rock. In fact, their Disraeli Gears (1967) could be considered one of the earliest progressive rock albums. The members of Cream—Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton—had all worked together before, though never all three at once. Baker and Bruce had played together (though not nicely) in the Graham Bond Organisation, while Clapton and Bruce had played together briefly in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
The band’s first album, Fresh Cream (1966), featured psychedelic rock originals from Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, plus more traditional blues-rock covers that featured Clapton’s by-now legendary guitar. It was an immediate hit. Disraeli Gears (1967) dove deeper into the psychedelic/ progressive side, including such classics as “Strange Brew,” “Swlabr,” “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and “Sunshine of Your Love.” On their third release, Wheels of Fire (1968), one record of progressive rock originals recorded in the studio was matched with one record of live material recorded at the Fillmore. In a sense, it was both a step forward (in the ornately produced material by Felix Pappalardi) and (in the live performances) a return to what they did best.
Given the history of Bruce and Baker, it was always unlikely that Cream would last for long. At the end of 1968, they announced their farewell tour and released one final album, another studio/live hybrid, Goodbye (1969). In the Summer of 1969, Baker and Clapton released the first (and only) album from their new venture, Blind Faith, which featured Steve Winwood on vocals/keyboards and Rick Grech on bass. A few months later, Bruce released his first solo album, Songs For A Tailor. Eventually, all three members of Cream went in their own direction, with Clapton garnering the most attention across a long and very successful solo career.
In the 1990s, Bruce and Baker surprised many by forming a new power trio with guitarist Gary Moore, titled simply BBM. After one album, Around The Next Dream (1994), the group disbanded. In 2005, Cream reformed for a short series of reunion concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. Over the years, the music of Cream has been tirelessly repackaged for future generations, most of whom would be wise to save their money for the original four records, Live Cream (1970) and maybe Live Cream II (1972).