Cream: Disraeli Gears (1967)

Kronomyth 2.0: SO MANY FANTASTIC COLORS. Cream’s second album is one of the earliest examples of progressive rock. Compared to other “artifacts” from the 60s, Disraeli Gears is an Aladdin’s lamp with a genie as accommodating as any to issue from the work of Jimi Hendrix or The Doors. As the cover suggests, this was transportative stuff at the time (and still is): Cream serving as the stylish sportscar alongside Hendrix’ hog or The Doors’ diesel truck in the highways of the mind. Part of the album’s appeal is its beautiful inscrutability: “Swlabr,” “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses” replace sense with sensory overload. Those three songs and “Strange Brew” represent a quantum leap forward from Fresh Cream, which was itself a groundbreaking album. In between those miniature monuments of progressive rock are a few silly sidetrips (“Mother’s Lament,” “Blue Condition”), a couple of psychedelic holdovers (“World of Pain,” “We’re Going Wrong”) and the blues-rock that never left (“Outside Woman Blues”). Although producer Felix Pappalardi deserves some credit for providing a more progressive prism for the band’s ambitions, it’s the primary combination of Baker, Bruce and Clapton that form the source of so many secondary colors on Disraeli Gears. Jack Bruce is the sturdy captain straddling the prow in tempestuous waters, Ginger Baker is the cosmic joker with a stolen bag of thunderbolts slung over his back, and Eric Clapton is the legendary pyromancer, both brilliant and burned out. This most colorful chapter in Cream’s history had a profound effect on the music of King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and even The Beatles. Cream’s legacy rests on four albums and, honestly, their star would shine as brightly through the ages if those other three albums got sucked into a black hole, so long as we still had Disraeli Gears to ponder.

The Songs
A1. Strange Brew (Eric Clapton/Gail Collins/Felix Pappalardi) (2:45)
A2. Sunshine of Your Love (Eric Clapton/Jack Bruce/Peter Brown) (4:10)
A3. World of Pain (Gail Collins/Felix Pappalardi) (3:00)
A4. Dance The Night Away (Jack Bruce/Peter Brown) (3:27)
A5. Blue Condition (Ginger Baker) (3:35)
B1. Tales of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton/Martin Sharp) (2:48)
B2. Swlabr (Jack Bruce/Peter Brown) (2:31)
B3. We’re Going Wrong (Jack Bruce) (3:21)
B4. Outside Woman Blues (Reynolds, arr. by Eric Clapton) (2:25)
B5. Take It Back (Jack Bruce/Peter Brown) (3:05)
B6. Mother’s Lament (Traditional, arr. by Ginger Baker/Jack Bruce/Eric Clapton) (1:48)

The Players
Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton. Produced by Felix Pappalardi; engineered by Tom Dowd.

The Plastic
Released on mono and stereo elpee in November 1967 in the UK (Reaction, 593003/594003) and the US (Atco, SD33-232, yellow label); reached #5 on the UK charts and #4 on the US charts (RIAA certified platinum). Re-released on elpee in the US (Atco, SD33-232, on purple/brown label), Argentina (Polydor, 1184105), Canada (Polydor, CP-5008), in 1980 in Spain (RSO, 24 75 209), in November 1987 in the US (RSO, 823 636-1), in Germany (Polydor/RSO, 2479 185), in 1980 in Japan (RSO, MWX-4002), in the Netherlands (Polydor, 823 638-1), and on 180g vinyl elpee in the UK (Simply Vinyl, SVLP-087). Re-released on CD in January 1984 in the UK (Track), in the US (Polydor, 823 636), in 1992 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD-562), in Japan (Polydor, UICY-2368), in 1998 worldwide (Polydor, 531 811) and in Japan (Polydor, UICY-9151). Original album cover design by Martin Sharp; photography by Robert Whitaker.

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