118 of 140 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
... than before. Cream was always one of those shizoid bands: studio efforts overdubbed, well produced psychedelia, live shows a tsunami of three soloists having a go at it simultaneously on an Anglo-blues catalogue. Here, for the first time I can remember hearing, they play more like a BAND. There is a locked in cohesion to this show that was never present before, as you can clearly hear when you compare this to the farewell show from '69. These three coined the cliche "supergroup" and were known for playing with a ferocity fueled by their competitive egos. Perhaps as age has slowed them all down and as time has taken its toll on them and their colleagues, the notion of working more in step with each other brings more significant rewards.
It certainly does to the material. Their take here on Willie Dixon, Booker T Jones, Skip James and T-Bone have all the swagger of the masters and less of the youthful unrestrained testosterone of the late 60's. "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "Spoonful" would make their authors proud. "Badge" suffers from Clapton having so thoroughly redefined it with his band that it seems nothing but perfunctory here. However, Baker's bizarre reading of "... Wart..." is so weird that it seems to have gained in its spooky evocation of something both Dickensian and psychedelic. In the case of each of the musicians, they are clearly listening to each other and playing better as a unit than you would ever have any right to expect. There is a supple pwer and subtlety to how integrated they are in each other's rhythms that is inspiring. Given the mediocrity of Clapton's BACK HOME, this is a delightful return to form. He isn't the GOD that he was on Cream's first surfacing, but that was just another way of clotting the music from flowing. All the years have served each of them well. They have not just not missed a beat (still with me?), they're actually a much better band.
The DVD is spectacularly shot. It is the kind of rock film Martin Scorcese would shave his bushy eyebrows for. Miraculously, Baker has survived well. Bruce looks almost as old as Steve Howe, and Clapton is amazing. It is a joy to watch their technique as they play. This really was a brilliant coda that eclipses the original legend. There is much to celebrate on both CD and DVD here. Enjoy!
50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
The original power rock trio Cream reunited for the first time in thirty-seven years for a string of concerts at the place they played their last shows, Royal Albert Hall. Anyone expecting the band to be as fierce and experimental as they were then is just unfair. Most acts mellow with age and lose their youthful aggression. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce & Ginger Baker are no different. Despite this, the band is quite tight on the album. There aren't the lengthy jams of the old days, but that is made up for by sharper and more focused playing. Mr. Bruce's bass is still quite heavy and although he can't hit all the high notes, his voice is still fluid. Mr. Clapton doesn't cut loose as much, but his phrasing and styling is impeccable. Mr. Baker's drumming is less erratic and adds a more solid backbeat. All the favorites like "Crossroads", "White Room", "Sunshine Of Your Love", "I'm So Glad" and "Spoonful" are included as well as some nuggets like "Pressed Rat & Warthog", "Deserted Cities Of The Heart" and "Badge".
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2007
Format: Audio CD
A review I read about the Live CD's of Cream in the 1960's not inspiring, well I can say to you, "Cream's reunion 2005 DVD". I can not stop watching this performance, it is so outstanding. Eric Clapton's fantastic guitar work during this reunion is inspirational, and is essential listening to any Cream or Eric Clapton fan.
Eric, with original members Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker performing like the superstars of old, rock the Albert Hall to the delight of thousands who were fortunate enough to be there. For us, the unlucky, this great 2 DVD Set can be ordered, and when played on a surround sound/ big screen system, this show comes alive. With outstanding editing, a high quality soundtrack, excellant near HD quality picture, this concert is at the top of my top ten list. This DVD sets the standard for outstanding music DVD videos.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD
When this band formed in the mid-1960s, Eric Clapton envisioned Cream as a blues trio. As history has shown, things didn't quite turn out that way. Forty years later, Slowhand finally got his wish. There are blues numbers here in abundance from the likes of Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Albert King, and Skip James. Recorded 37 years after their final proper concert at this same venue in 1968, time may have ravaged their looks, but definitely not their playing. As another reviewer has stated in these pages, Cream acts like a band this time around rather than as a group of egotistical soloists going for the jugular night after night as they did "back in the day." The jams for which Cream are renowned are kept to a tolerable length. Most songs on this collection clock in around 5-6 minutes. Those that do go long (Stormy Monday, Spoonful, We're Going Wrong, Sunshine, Toad) do not suffer as a result.
As it was back in their heyday, each member is afforded his own showcase. For Jack Bruce, it's "Rollin' And Tumblin'." On this number Jack, accompanied by his harmonica (no bass), Eric playing the slide, and Ginger Baker on the drums, stuns and amazes the crowd with an energy that belies the fact that the man nearly died in 2003. Eric Clapton's showcase is the T-Bone Walker classic "Stormy Monday." This is a new song for Cream as it was never on an official Cream release until this collection came out. Slowhand demonstrates that when he wants to, he is the master of the blues guitar. The man was simply on fire the night they recorded this song. Ginger Baker's showcase was, of course, the drum solo "Toad." By and large, drum solos are usually excuses to head to the bathroom or the concession stand. Not so here. "Toad" is simply compelling. It's isn't boring - it's Ginger Baker demonstrating that yes, the drum IS a musical instrument. By the time the solo ends you don't realize it had gone on for over seven minutes. It's that good!
The big surprise of this whole collection is Ginger's song "Pressed Rat and Warthog" from "Wheels of Fire." On the DVD that visually documented this reunion, Ginger told the interviewer that he was "threatened with execution" by his family if he didn't play this song. At a little over three minutes, this is the only hint of psychedelia that Cream shows throughout the set. Slowhand plays it straight - not a wah-wah pedal to be heard, and frankly it isn't missed (much). Jack Bruce is in fine voice throughout. Of interest is the band's different take on White Room. Instead of Jack Bruce singing the entire song as he has done since he wrote it, Jack sings the first two verses, Eric takes the refrain of those two verses, then the two swap roles for the third verse and refrain. Eric's song "Badge" had never been played live by Cream as it was recorded at the end of their 1960s run, and here Jack Bruce proves once and for all to hear that if you took his bass lines away from the song, there would be no song.
There are lots of plusses on this collection. The jamming is kept to a tolerable length, hence more songs to enjoy. The volume is lower than in their heyday, so the musicians can hear each other, and the interplay between the musicians makes for some outstanding music. One need look no further for proof of this than Cream's take on "We're Going Wrong". Thirty-seven years ago this band was full volume pedal to the metal jamming. Today this band plays like adults - it swings! Credit that to Ginger Baker, who plays more like a jazzer these days (when he does play). There is one minus - no "Tales of Brave Ulysses" (they fixed this oversight when they played MSG in October 2005). Other than that, this collection is a worthy addition to Cream's legacy. Buy it now!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2006
Format: Audio CD
First, I know that Amazon doesn't encourage too many personal comments but in this case I just have to offer some background. In 1966 and 1967 I had a power trio with Mike Wedgwood, later with Kiki Dee, Curved Air, Caravan and so on, and George Hart, who wrote much of the legendary "Death may be your Santa Claus" by Secondhand (see Amazon.co.uk). We loved the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who and the Stones as encapsulating harmony, melody, humour, whimsy, rhythmn and almost heart-stopping musical ability: and so we played tons of their songs. But we also loved Eric Clapton and the blues, and along came Cream. So we played the whole of "Fresh Cream" except for Toad - don't ask. I loved the band so much that I followed them around, and some of my souvenirs and memories are in Chris Welch's superb book "Cream", for review see Amazon.co.uk - and if you like/liked Cream, get Chris' beautifully produced book. So mad- keen was I that I hitch-hiked from Salisbury to London to see Cream at the Saville Theatre in London (now long-closed) on the chance of getting a ticket - I did, and the only surviving programme is in Chris' book. They were on with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, believe it or not, and The Action.
Well, memory is a strange and deceptive mistress. I have a 19 year old son who s a demon sax player, and I am afraid that I have skewed his view of music by the "in my day..." nostalgia, although I don't regret introducing him to old school friend (yes, the same school!)Andy Sheppard on sax, because Andy is the best soprano player in the world: but I am aware that young kids can miss out on a lot of the good new stuff because "Dad thinks it's rubbish" - dangerous territory.
But then, out of the blue, along comes a chance to see if all those old memories are just rose-tinted or actually quite accurate, with the announcement that Cream were reforming for 4 gigs only. So, after virtually remortgaging the house, I bought two tickets for the Thursday night and off son and I went.
When the three old boys walked on stage, the ovation was deafening. There was Jack, fresh from a liver transplant, the type of which poor old Rory Gallagher did not survive: there was Ginger, riddled with arthritis and in his sixties: and there was Eric, after a life of hard times, addiction problems and mixed musical fortunes.
And off they went. My God, and off they went. Several things I had forgotten: they can all sing and the harmonies were exceptional: Ginger's drum sound is the most exciting thing you could ever hear: Jack has the voice of an angel with a range denied to all but a very few: and Eric can play anything.
I know that it sounds unbelievable to those who were not there, but they were just about note-perfect from start to finish - and now we have this fantastic DVD to prove it. On a personal note, the "Stormy Monday" and "Toad" were both recorded the night we were there and both are just brilliantly played - what's that about the band jamming, everybody? After Toad, my son said that this was the best ten minutes of his musical life, having seen Jeff Beck, Stevie Winwood, Meatloaf, Eric and Andy Sheppard in the same 12 months. Other high spots are "We're going wrong" "Sunshine" (of course) "Rollin and a tumblin" and "Crossroads" (although the Wheels of Fire version is definitive).
The whole DVD is a joy to watch and the playing is mind-bending. It's not just three old mates having a good time, it's three absolutely faultless musicians having a good time. For once, son and I could compare notes and agree that perhaps' Dad's memory was not too bad after all. If you have not bought this DVD you should: the Stormy Monday alone is worth the price of admission on its own.
A few weeks ago, my wife was waitressing at a shoot on the downs (hills) near us. Eric was there and signed two programmes - one from 1967 and one from 2005. Same line-up, same music, same magic. He also signed a mug for my daughter, "To Izzie, Eric 2005". What an incredibly talented, nice and gentle man.
Cream rule. No competition.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2006
Format: Audio CD
If you asked several average music listeners to name the best and most influential bands of the 60's, you'd be hard-pressed to find Cream on those lists. Cream was a staple in the diet of the average 60's music fan, but nowadays, hardly anyone remembers their name (although their song "Sunshine of Your Love" has become a hit despite no one knowing who they are). When compared to other in their vein of music (Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, etc.) Cream was definitely a step above the rest. Each of the band members were highly talented and beyond the rest of their kind, offering non-standard instrumental stylings like nothing the world had even seen up to that point. No band took the blues-influenced rock style farther than Cream, and no other band did a better job of it. Though Cream may have faded into obscurity among modern music listeners, any true music fan must appreciate the influence and skill that this band has.
Though it seemed impossible, the band got back together over a year ago for their long-anticipated reunion. Many fans, young and old, traveled far and wide to witness history in the making as the 60's greatest players made a return to their glory days. Some were skeptical of the band's ability to play their old songs after nearly 40 years of hiatus, but the trio proves everyone wrong by performing impeccable versions of classic hit songs like "Crossroads" and "Toad" (an impressive feat for a 67 year-old who looks like he should be in a retirement home rather than beating some excellent rhythms from his drum set). Jack Bruce, lead singer and bass player, can still belt out tunes like "Sunshine of Your Love" and "Born Under A Bad Sign" and moves his fingers nimbly about the fretboard of his bass with a professionality seen in very few bass players (it's hard to find a truly great bass player in this day in age), proving that he is still one of rock's greatest bass players. Secondly is critically-acclaimed guitarist Eric Clapton, who often makes the lists of rock's top 10 guitarists because of his pure talent and melodic voice that interchanges with Jack Bruce on various songs. I was glad that he did this reunion, because I wasn't really a big fan of Clapton's solo career because it was a step down from his wonderful blues-inspired guitar stylings of his Cream days, especially the cream of the crop (don't mind the overused pun) "Crossroads", possibly Cream's greatest hit. Now he proves that he can still play the complex solos and improvisations of yesteryear after a long, unimpressive discography. (am I the only person who doesn't like that song "Layla"?) Lastly is drummer Ginger Baker, who is possibly the most impressive of the three. Not many can play the drums as well as he did and still does, even at the age of sixty-seven. Ginger Baker is often placed too low on lists of the world's greatest drummers, seeing as he was highly influential and had a style all his own, beating out others like John Bonham (who was most likely influenced by Baker) and modern loves like Lars Ulrich (who really isn't that great of a drummer in the grand scheme of things). Unlike many drummers of that age, he doesn't just sit there and beat on the drum kit merely to keep the beat and add that extra punch; there is real progression in his drumming and subtle complexities that you to really listen for. Even in his old age, "Toad" is still compelling, though not as fast as before, and really blows you away.
Bottom line: Cream was one of the 60's greatest bands and has become underappreciated since their glory days, so this live reunion album is a good way to reintroduce them into the modern music scene as great even today. If you're a longtime (or even original) Cream fan then you probably already own this, but for all you out there who are looking to be inspired in spite of the adversity of today's mainstream, then pick this album up as well as their wonderful studio recordings, mainly "Wheels of Fire". Cream may not have been around long, but the impact they made on the progression of rock remains one of the strongest.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Whether you are a lifetime Cream fan like myself or not, you will love this CD. Any CD that can make "Pressed Rat and Warthog" good is worth buying, but Clapton makes that happen. When Eric stops leading bands and instead does what he does best (playing great blues songs as a guitar player and not as a band leader) he excels, on every song. The consistency is amazing and unmatched over every single piece they play. I was at the October 24, 2005 Madison Square Garden concert and was blown away by this group, and this CD is the closest you can get to that experience (sorry, the CD lacks Tales of Brave Ulysses, played in NYC but not recorded that we know of, though it should be released as a single). Jack Bruce is still the amazing vocalist and bass player extraordinaire. Ginger Baker still has what it takes (does anyone else play the drums so hard? I don't think so, and you will be impressed). This is "the same Cream," meaning high quality rock, but is actually better in some ways than the original. Eric's solos are great on each song, Jack propels him along, though with a somewhat different style than in the '60's, and Ginger keeps it all together (though he blew the opening of one song in New York, we'll forget that; it was funny to see Jack and Eric walk over to him and say "what are you doing?" and Jack said to the audience "Drum Solo, Ginger Baker" and we all laughed). When Eric feels compelled to lead his own bands, you get drivel like "I Shot the Sheriff" (a terrible cover of a mediocre song, with nothing interesting at all, guitar-wise). When Eric is part of Cream, he has no choice, he must perform an outstanding solo on each song. That's what makes this music great. Eric, stick with Cream, please. All 3 musicians are on fire on this CD, it's a keeper.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Let's get one thing straight from the start: this is not the same Cream as the band that broke up 37 years ago. Yes, it's the same three guys, but those almost-four decades have made their mark. The good news is that, overall, it's a pretty good mark.
On the downside, Jack Bruce's voice has lost some of it's range and power, and Ginger Baker sounds like what he is: a senior citizen trying to remind people what he once could do. At times he's successful in that attempt, and at others he falls short. The competitive spark that fired Cream's sound has fizzled. The sound of Bruce and Clapton seemingly battling for dominance of the band's lead is no more.
In its place, though, is the sound of three musicians playing together, and doing it extraordinarily well. Clapton does some of his best playing in years here, and Jack Bruce's playing still puts him in the top ranks of bass players. As you can see from the list of songs, they've hit every period of Cream's (brief) history. The arrangements are tight and crisp, and the solos are superb. In particular, the arrangements of "White Room" and "Badge"(the original recordings of which have never been recreated well on stage) are outstanding.
Other reviewers will doubtless provide lists of the best tracks on the album, and every list will differ. I'll settle for saying that the scorching work on "Stormy Monday" is, by itself, well worth the cost of the album.
Unlike other bands from the Sixties that have become oldies acts or parodies of themselves, Cream came back full blast. This album is a pure delight. As much as I normally avoid music DVDs, the knowledge that the companion DVD to this collection contains different versions of these songs (it was, after all, a four night stand) has me hustling over to check it out.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is an extremely well produced concert DVD both visually and sound-wise. The band is in very good form though it would be unfair to expect them to be at their highest peak. They are very well-coordinated musically on the tunes but they have all lost the slightest bit of edge on their playing and singing - not that you would notice it unless you have each note of all of their tunes committed to memory.
Still they are head an shoulders above most of the rest and the DVD is a joy and a must have for fans of the band and younger rock aficionados as well.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2010
Format: MP3 Music
Cream ended its career as a full-time working band with a pair of shows at Royal Albert Hall in 1968 (it's criminal that the best of those shows was never mixed for a live album) in which they left the internal friction that splintered them---and most of what caused revisionists to dismiss them as virtuosity over substance in the years following their split---out the door and delivered some of their most inspired playing.
The shock of their banding up to play three numbers at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction a decade earlier was probably nothing compared to the shock of the trio reunited for two series of concerts at Albert Hall and at New York's Madison Square Garden (where they ended their final American tour, also in 1968). At various times had they been offered corporate sums to do it in the intervening years and turned them down, if you don't count one occasion when drummer Ginger Baker, experiencing financial difficulties, nearly gave in to the temptation to phone his former bandmates with the proposition, before he shook it off agreeing that was the wrong reason to do it. That the trio still had something special whenever they might get together (as they did every now and then when the occasion, but not the commerce, presented itself) Baker never doubted.
Was he right this time?
For the most part, yes, if you set aside your latent expectations that they might transcend dimension and time the way they originally did on their best nights, accepted that they were old compatriots taking one more rip through their legendary if somewhat inconsistent repertoire, and settled in for an evening in which about the only nostalgic touch was the screenboard behind their round stage showing varying washes of faux-psychedelic imagery that resembled a blur of the famous "Disraeli Gears" colour scheme and design.
They're obviously relaxed and having fun with the old repertoire and with their old split-up. ("Before we were so rudely interrupted," Eric Clapton cracks at one point; "You're trying to embarrass me!" Baker warbles playfully, when Clapton introduces his turn to recite "Pressed Rat and Warthog," that thinly-enough-disguised ode to the trio's pending split.) Maybe too relaxed---granted that they're not 20- or 30-somethings any longer, but it's a little jarring to hear material such as "White Room" or "NSU" played like a an elder bar band at a masonic picnic even if they flash a little of the old brio hither and yon, no matter how good Cream still is at delivering it.
It isn't anything of the kind, however, when the reunited Cream buckles down to what drove their formation in the first place, the blues. They have a bristling wrestle with "Politician"; Eric Clapton digs in passionately with "Stormy Monday," a chestnut not heretofore associated with Cream, and even if you notice there's a little thickness missing from his Stratocaster rig (no Stratocaster ever got near the fullness of those Gibsons he played back in the year) there's no depth of feeling missing from the performance, either from Clapton in the frontline with one after another tastefully melodious improvisation or from Bruce and Baker walking beside him in the rhythm section and not racing past him compelling him to play catch-up. And they give Bruce's best blues, "Sleepy Time Time," a zestful and almost lusty reading for a I-IV-IV-V blues ballad, with Baker unafraid of a little colourism in his cymbal punctuations and Clapton harking back to an old inspiration, Buddy Guy, for a series of smart legato figures.
What strikes home most is the trio's conscious restraint, even when they take a little of their former freewheeling, free-jazz-implicit improvisation ride, as they do now and then with such material as "Spoonful" and "Sweet Wine." As if they took to heart some of the critiques (their own and the critics) of their salad years, they find ways to let fly without letting the heart bleed out of the music. It makes for a few awkward instants at times but makes mostly for engaging if not necessarily transcendental music, even if you might be thinking they're showing their ages a little too brightly. The effort is embracing.
We'll probably have to wait for someone to exhume the tapes of their legendary 1967 tours for the final, definitive Cream concert document, the one that shows most of all what the trio could accomplish when playing their most inspired music (which is not necessarily to say their most incendiary or flashy music). Until then, their reunion show material is pleasant to hear and worth having. Once upon a time people went to Cream concerts expecting to hear the fire of the gods. It's an odd delight expecting to hear a culling from Cream concerts that's not the fire of the gods but, rather, the soul of musicians playing as they are, rather than impossible-to-equal distortions of what people once expected them to be.