Cream playing at their best which means playing live and imp
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 12/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cream was basically a power trio that went super nova, which is pretty easy to do when you have Eric Clapton on guitar, Jack Bruce on bass, and Ginger Baker on drums. Their first album came out in 1966 and by the time their fourth album "Goodbye" came out in 1969 they had already disbanded. But one thing they proved with those four albums was that they were better on stage than they were in the studio, which explains why half the tracks on the last two albums were recorded live. Their last album was also their most successful, making it to #2 on the Billboard album chart, which explains why the next year their label came out with this album.
Four of the five tracks on "Live Cream, Volume 1" appeared on their debut album, "Fresh Cream." The fifth, is the traditional blues piece "Lawdy Mama," given the Clapton treatment. It also stands out as being the only track on the album that does not represent the band's jazz-oriented approach to rock music, which simply means that they were into high-energy improvisation and extended solos. Add to this list that the song was only 2:46 while "N.S.U." clocks in at 10:15 and "Sweet Wine" at 15:16 (without Baker, who co-wrote it, ever going off on an extended drum solo), and "Lawdy Mama" ends up being like a postscript to the rest of the album, where the emphasis is on their improvisational playing of what are basically blues tracks reved up to the rock level. To top everything off, it sure sounds a lot like "Strange Brew."
Cream and Led Zeppelin were both into doing tunes by the old blues masters, which we see here with Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin,'" which is only a couple of minutes longer than the original. That is why the two monster tracks are the best on the album, because there are points where you do not even remember what song these guys were playing to begin with. The other thing of note with this album is being able to hear the band egg each other on during these tracks, which provides something a bit different and really captures what it was like at a Cream concert. What more would you want from a live album? Two years later "Live Cream, Volume 2" would come out, which includes "White Room," "Tales of Brave Ulysses," and a nice long version of "Sunshine of Your Love.""