[Review] Best of Cream (1969)

Well, that was it, four albums. Thanks for coming.

Kronomyth 5.0: The Cream is dead.

With a name like Cream, I suppose it’s only fitting that their labels milk them for all they’re worth. The release of Best of Cream coincided with the debut album from Ginger Baker’s and Eric Clapton’s new band, Blind Faith, and followed Cream’s Goodbye by only a few months, yet fans still snatched it up—a testimony to the band’s popularity at the time.

While the US album cover, featuring drawings of vegetables, may be beyond mere mortal comprehension (for a great band they really had some bizarre album covers), it’s easy to understand why people would pay good money to hear the best of Cream. The selections here are unimpeachable, if not surprisingly weighted toward their first three albums (only one track, “Badge,” appears from their last). The presence of “Spoonful” and “I Feel Free” could also be considered a kindness to collectors, since one or the other would have been a non-album single depending on which version of Fresh Cream you owned.

Of course, since the release of this album, dozens of Cream compilations have cropped up, not a few of them named Best of Cream. The future, with its compact disc and jet cars, had little use for a 10-track Cream compilation, and so Best of Cream was allowed to languish without so  much as a digital remaster (it did get a 180g vinyl reissue some years later). If you should encounter it in a used record store somewhere, it’s worth picking up for five dollars, but I wouldn’t pay more than $10 for it unless you’re planning to encase the album cover in Lucite and use it as a cutting board.

Original LP Version

A1. Sunshine of Your Love (Jack Bruce/Peter Brown/Eric Clapton) (4:08)
A2. Badge (Eric Clapton/George Harrison) (2:45)
A3. Crossroads (live) (Robert Johnson) (4:13)
A4. White Room (Jack Bruce/Peter Brown) (3:04)
A5. SWLABR (Jack Bruce/Peter Brown) (2:31)
B1. Born Under A Bad Sign (Booker T. Jones/William Bell) (3:06)
B2. Spoonful (Willie Dixon) (6:31)
B3. Tales of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton/Martin Sharp) (2:50)
B4. Strange Brew (Eric Clapton/Felix Pappalardi/Gail Collins) (2:45)
B5. I Feel Free (Jack Bruce/Peter Brown) (2:48)

The Pictures

Cover by Jim Dine. Back liner photo by Jim Marshall.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track on July 7, 1969 in the US (Atco, SD33-291/M5 291), in November 1969 in the UK (Polydor, 583 060) and in 1969 in Canada (Polydor, 543 069) and Germany (Polydor, 184 298); reached #3 on the US charts (RIAA certified gold) and #6 on the UK charts. Cassette features different track listing. Also released on elpee in Vietnam (Liming, LM-2318) with b&w cover.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1973 in New Zealand (Polydor, 184 298).
  2. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in Germany (RSO, 2479 169/3215 048).
  3. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in November 1977 in the UK and Canada (RSO, 2394/3216 131).
  4. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee on July 14, 2014 in Europe (Polydor, 535113-8).

2 thoughts on “[Review] Best of Cream (1969)

  1. I have always assumed that the cover art was a jokey nod towards ‘creak of vegetable soup’ much in the same way that Disraeli Gears plays on derailleur gears. Could be wrong though.

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