A Third Wheel of Fire, or Cream Goes Out with a Badge. Why did Cream have to break up? I blame Yoko.
“Cream’s last year was extremely painful for me. When we started in 1966, Eric and Jack had one Marshall each. Then it became a stack, then a double stack and finally a triple stack. By 1968, I was just the poor bastard stuck in the middle of these incredible noise-making things. It was ridiculous.” – Ginger Baker, as quoted in a 2014 Guitar World article.
Kronomyth 4.0: HELLO GOODBYE. Cream had already left the building when Goodbye was released. The album packaging seemed almost gleeful at the prospect: the band was decked out in silver tuxedos on the front, the inner gatefold opened to a cartoon graveyard, Cream’s magical mystery tour complete. Exit through the giftshop and don’t forget to pick up your copy of Goodbye on the way out. Originally planned as a double elpee with an album each of live and studio material (like Wheels of Fire before it), Goodbye was pared down to a single record because of a lack of good material. The live material is louder than loud, with Clapton and especially Bruce much too high in the mix. This version of “Sitting On Top of the World” is good, but the other tracks are sonically inferior to what you’ll find on the two Live Cream discs. As for the individual musicianship on the live tracks, it’s amazing, but the band loses points for not playing nice together. The members also had a homework assignment to write one new track for the album. Clapton tapped George Harrison as his study partner and came up with the brilliant “Badge,” while Bruce and Pete Brown delivered the deliciously surreal “Doing That Scrapyard” and Baker kicked in the psychedelic “What A Bringdown.” All three tracks are strongly influenced by The Beatles, suggesting that Cream (like most of the world) had already worn out their copies of Magical Mystery Tour. It’s nice that the band took the time to write a note before leaving, but I’m far more likely to thumb through the photo albums of Wheels and Gears than take the tear-stained Goodbye out of its crypted envelope and read it. That said, the closing studio tracks are some of the best things they’ve ever done; maybe they should have put those first.
Original LP Version
A1. I’m So Glad (live) (Skip James) (9:11)
A2. Politician (live) (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown) (6:19)
B1. Sitting On Top of the World (live) (Chester Burnett) (5:01)
B2. Badge (Eric Clapton) (2:45)*
B3. Doing That Scrapyard Thing (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown) (3:14)
B4. What A Bringdown (Ginger Baker) (3:56)
* Later versions correctly credit George Harrison as the co-writer of “Badge.”
CD reissue bonus track
7. Anyone For Tennis
Ginger Baker (drums, percussion, vocal), Jack Bruce (bass, vocal, piano, organ), Eric Clapton (guitars & vocal) with L’Angelo Misterioso (George Harrison) (rhythm guitar on B2), Felix Pappalardi (piano, mellotron). Produced by Felix Pappalardi; engineered by Bill Halverson, Adrian Barber & Damon Lyon-Shaw.
Cover design by Alan Aldridge Ink Studios. Photography by Roger Phillips. Illustration by Roger Hane. Art direction by Haig Adishian.
Released on elpee on February 5, 1969 in the UK (Polydor, 583053), the US (Atco, SD 7001), Canada (Polydor, 543.024), France (Polydor Privilege, 658129), Italy (Polydor, 184203), Japan (Polydor, SMP-1435) and Mexico (Polydor, 220109) with gatefold cover; reached #1 on the UK charts and #2 on the US charts (RIAA certified gold).
- Re-issued on elpee in 1974 in Japan (RSO, MW-2083)
- Re-issued on elpee in 1976 in Germany (RSO, 2428 701).
- Re-issued on elpee in November 1977 in the US (RSO, RS-1-3013).
- Re-issued on elpee in 1979 in Japan (RSO, MWX-4004).
- Re-issued on elpee in 1980 in Japan (RSO, MWA-7004) and Spain (RSO, 24 79 210).
- Re-issued on elpee in 1981 in the UK and Australia (RSO, 2394 178).
- Re-issued on elpee and cassette in 1984 in the US (Polydor, 823 660-1/4).
- Re-issued on elpee in 1985 in the UK (RSO, SPELP-75).
- Re-released on expanded compact disc in 1987 in the US (Polydor, 823 660-2) with 1 bonus track.
- Re-issued on elpee in 1989 in Spain (RSO, 23 94 178).
- Re-released on remastered compact disc on September 17, 1996 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD-681).
- Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee in 1997 in the UK (Simply Vinyl, SVLP-211).
- Re-issued on compact disc in 1997 in Germany (Polydor, 559431-2).
- Re-issued on compact disc on April 7, 1998 in the US (Polydor, 1815-2) and in 1998 in Japan (Polydor, POCP-9115).
- Re-issued on compact disc on November 21, 2001 in Japan (Universal, UICY-9154).
- Re-released on expanded 180g vinyl elpee in 2008 in Russia (Lilith, 900068) with 5 bonus tracks.
- Re-released on picture disc elpee on February 5, 2008 in Russia (Lilith, 900069)
- Re-issued on compact disc in 2008 in the UK (Universal, 53093047)
- Re-released on super high material compact disc on October 22, 2008 in Japan (Universal, UICY-93698).
Goodbye, Al Franken.
Today, Al Franken will make an announcement that the Democrats have become a party of ideologues. The actual announcement will likely be couched in an act of contrition, sweetened with a drop of righteous indignation, but the result will be the same. Mind you, I’m not a political creature. I write about music as the lesser of several evils. All writing is subjective, all opinions are authoritarian, and it’s best to confine that cruelty to a small arena, music. But I felt compelled to say something about the dunking of the last true Democrat. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the accusations against Franken that feel right. Leann Tweeden is at best a hypocrite, at worst a political patsy. Kirsten Gillibrand is a misandrist and an opportunist. The accusers are simply bit players in a bad staging of The Congressional Crucible. Throwing Conyers under the bus was different; he was already dead. But Democrats today sacrificed the welfare of democracy and the sanctity of due process to gain a useless, ideological advantage. Not that it changes anything. Everyone in power is a sociopath: Roy Moore, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Bezos. It’s the Puppeteer and not the puppets you need to be worried about anyway, but today was just a really bad puppet show and I wanted to say something about that. If you’re still not over the idea, you can read Anna Caroline Drake’s thoughtful essay, “Why I Think Sen. Al Franken Is Innocent.”