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Wheels of Fire
October 19, 2005
For the uninitiated, Cream was/is a trio consisting of Eric Clapton (Guitar, Vocals), Jack Bruce (Bass, Vocals, Harmonica) and Ginger Baker (Drums, percussion). Their most popular album is 1967's Disraeli Gears, but I feel Wheels of Fire is their best.
"White Room": 10. The best track here, it's a pure Cream classic. Jimi Hendrix has nothing on Clapton's guitarwork."Sitting On Top of the World": 10. This is Cream in their strong suit: psychedelic reworks of old blueses. Jack Bruce's vocal performance is good, but the true highlight is Clapton's virtuoso guitarwork. "Passing the Time": 5.3. This one really let me down. The opening (An Eastern-ish chant accompanied by crashing drums) makes you think it's gonna be something awesome, but it quickly becomes quite stupid."As You Said": 7.2. Great acoustic guitar work and weird lyrics. Not bad, but not really all that good either."Pressed Rat And Warthog": 4.3. One of the album's few weak points. It's an annoying beatnik tune with an annoying recitation. Justly forgotten."Politician": 10. Another classic. It's the revenge of the psychedelic blues!
"Those Were The Days": 10. One of Ginger Baker's few quality compositions for the band."Born Under A Bad Sign": 10. Another killer cover."Deserted Cities of the Heart": 10. I wish I listened to this one more..."Crossroads (Live)": 10. Another classic. Clapton's guitar is on fire, and the rhythm section matches quite well. "Spoonfull (Live)": 10. WARNING: this song clocks in at nearly 17 minutes, mainly because of Slowhand's extended solo. But it is another great tune. "Traintime (Live)": 6.9. I hope you like Jack Bruce's harp, cuz that's pretty much all you get for seven minutes. "Toad (Live)": 7.2. A good performance, but the original is a lot better.
Even if you already have the hits, you should seek this out just for Spoonful. If you don't, this belongs in your collection.
Wheels of Fire
September 24, 2004
After the success of FRESH CREAM and DISREALI GEARS, Cream came out with WHEELS OF FIRE which combined studio and live tracks. This album is one of the classics in rock 'n roll history. Jack Bruce is at his best songwriting here and Eric Clapton's guitars really blow out of the water better than FRESH CREAM! Ginger Baker's drums are as good as always and his songwriting has evolved a bit.
Bruce gives us the classic "White Room" which basically takes "Tales of Brave Ulysseys" in a whole new direction. You have even better work with Clapton, but more structural songwriting along with the interlude. The hesitation before Clapton's final solo is one of the greatest things I've ever heard in rock. The cover of Howling Wolf's "Sitting on Top of the World" is fantastic and would only get better live on GOODBYE as the interplay between Clapton's guitar and Bruce's booming bass and vocals came together. "Passing the Time" is Ginger's song. BLAH! Just as the song starts getting cool, it dies down and is replaced by some circus organ playing. "As You Said" is a little more interesting with the strings taking the song's direction, but not the best. "Pressed Rat and Warthog" is a better effort by Ginger. Felix Papalardi's trumpet really adds color over the booming trio. The music is fantastic, but the recitation is a little stupid. We then get another Bruce composition called "Politician" with an awesome bass lick and great lyrics by Pete Brown. Clapton's dual guitars are a highlight in this song. "Those Were the Days" is Ginger's best song on the album and it's a pretty good song. Good melody line and Ginger's drums are a highlight here. Clapton gives us some hard driving guitar playing on "Born Under a Bad Sign" a great cover of the Booker T original. "Deserted Cities of the Heart" is a great closing song. Bruce sings great on this gem and the string section is a highlight. Don't forget Clapton's great solo.
The Second disc is the band playing live, but only one track comes from the Fillmore. "Crossroads" is Clapton's cover of the classic Robert Johnson song and one of the greatest covers in rock 'n roll history! There has never been a guitar solo like the one Clapton plays on the fantastic song. Bruce and Ginger play their best here really adding a powerful rhythm behind Clapton's incendiary guitar playing. And let's own up about Clapton's wonderful singing. We then work into "Spoonfull" which had appeared on FRESH CREAM. This live version is even better! Bruce sings great, and the Cream goes off into a long and powerful jam seemingly to the point of no return. But then, the band comes back for the last verse and a powerful climax! A turning point in rock history. "Traintime" is a pretty good harmonica jam, but it goes on a little too long. "Toad" is Ginger's drum jam, and what a jam! Ginger really defines the capacity of his fabulous double-kick drumming. It may go on too long, but what a drum solo! Amazing that he really makes the solo sound like an actual instrument. The band comes in to finish the song and the Wheels' fire is extinguished.
There will never be another album like this or a band like Cream! Thanks for 4 awesome albums guys.
To listen to some soundclips from
Fire or to purchase it, click on:
Wheels of Fire
By The Almighty Big Jimmy
December 27, 2001
The songwriting genius of Jack Bruce, the incredible drum playing of Ginger Baker and the awe-inspiring guitar riffs of Eric Clapton came together to form one of the greatest albums in the history of Rock & Roll. This album is kicked off by "Strange Brew", a mellow yet rockin' song about god knows what. The second song, "Sunshine of Your Love", is undoubtedly the best on the album. "World of Pain" is another mellow yet rockin tune about a lone tree in a concrete jungle. "Dance the night away" is good, but does not live up to the rest of the album. "Blue Condition" is an incredible song, though it sounded like Ginger was writing this song using a rhyming dictionary. "Tales of Brave Ulysses" is the second best song on the album, I'll be damned if I knew what it was about. "SWALBR" is another great song, though I am not sure exactly what SWLABR stands for, if anything. "We're going wrong" is a simple, yet hypnotizing melody. "Outside Woman blues" and "Take it Back" are both incredible blues songs. I have no idea what exactly the song "Mother's Lament" is doing on this album, but it is interesting nonetheless. Overall, "Disraeli Gears" is an incredible album. Cream is truly one of the most influential bands in history, despite their brief lifespan.
To listen to some soundclips from DISRAELI GEARS or to purchase it, click on: Disraeli Gears (Buy.com) or Disraeli Gears - CC Music
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