Thursday, October 13, 2005

Review: Cream at Royal Albert Hall

CD: Cream Royal Albert Hall, May 2-3-5-6 05 Reprise Label
DVD: Cream Royal Albert Hall, May 2-3-5-6 05 Rhino Label

This is one concert I truly would have liked to have gone to. I chatted with someone who went to the concert. She said that the people there who were mostly those who where around when Cream played Royal Albert Hall in 1968. On the audience shots, I saw plenty of younger people, so it looks as if Cream does indeed transcend generations. I myself know a few younger people who are into Cream.

If you aren't familiar Cream you should go out, get this CD and DVD and see what all the fuss was about then, and why the fuss is starting out again. Cream was the first supergroup and years after they dissolved and went onto to different things, their music still stood out on the airwaves. Who hasn’t heard White Room, Badge, Sunshine of Your Love or Crossroads? Let me assure you that Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton are still in fine form. Heck, Ginger Baker is better than ever!

I have both the CD and the DVD. Let me tell you: if you’ve been waiting for an excuse to buy a home theater system, this is it. The DVD is absolutely fantastic. I just have a small 14 inch (I’m not an extremely materialistic person) but even on that the concert was just fantastic. It’s also got me thinking about buying a big screen TV and a home theater system. That’s going to have to wait, I think!

I’m going to concentrate mainly on the DVD, mostly because it’s a complete experience. It was filmed in HD, stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound, so you can just imagine how sweet the experience is. One great thing for you vinyl fans: it was released on high performance vinyl as well.

And now for the music. I decided to do a song by song commentary. No particular reason.

I’m so glad
What a great start. It really gets you hyped up and ready for the rest of the concert. Drums and vocals are just fantastic.

Spoonful Originally performed by Willie Dixon around 1960. This song has the unusual quality of being both raw and polished at the same time. The solos are just long enough, but still there is a small, intimate club feel when listening to this song. It's like you are sitting in a small smoky club late at night nursing your Maker’s Mark while you kicked off your shoes and are leaning back in your chair, eyes closed, just groovin’ with the band. Great blues.

Outside woman blues
What can say, other than that I listened to it three times in a row.

Pressed Rat and Warthog Oh how I love Ginger Baker’s voice. Ginger usually adds some outrageous facial expressions but this rendition was rather straightforward. It's still great. And I do hope Pressed Rat and Warthog reopens soon.

Sleepy Time Time I love this song. The bonus cut, I think is even better. It’s slow, rockin’ blues at it’s best.

N.S.U. This just rocks. That’s all there is to say.

Badge Everything comes together in this song. This is one of those songs that gets my car radio turned up full blast and annoys all the drivers in a five block radius.

Politician What a song. It’s like Jack Bruce seduces the audience.

Sweet wine Hypnotic, and really hits home near the end when the lyrics pick up.

Rollin’ and Tumblin’ I absolutely love that harmonica and drum combo. Vocals are great. Now this is blues tune to dance to!

Stormy Monday God, this is good. It done by T-Bone Walker originally, and I think he’d be very happy to hear what Cream has done with his song.

Deserted cities of the heart This song just makes me melt.

Born under a bad sign Originally by Booker T. Jones. Fantastic. That’s all there is to say. This is one song that got my stereo cranked up to the max.

We’re going wrong Jack is wonderful here. Listening to his voice and having Eric’s guitar so hot at the same time is just magic. Throughout it, you can hear Ginger’s drumming - just heaven. I replayed this at this at least five times, the last one with a great glass of cabernet. It’s a song to just put the earphones on, sit back in your favorite chair and get lost in the music.

Crossroads Classic, classic, classic. What more can I say? First done by Robert Johnson; if you don’t know who is, you should because he is probably the greatest American Bluesman EVER and he definitely has left his mark in both blues and rock. Of course that’s my personal opinion. Someone should make a movie of his all too short life. (Hey,Chet Helm's Family Dog Productions at the Fillmore.

I do have some minor complaints. I would have liked expanded liner notes myself. And I had to get a magnifying glass to read the insert, butI guess that’s more part of aging than anything else. You know, on the CD cover (less on the DVD) they were very creative with the colors. If you take a magnifying glass, and tilt the cover slightly, under the right light it looks three dimensional. Look for the blue and yellows to pop out the most. Groovy, man.

So, will Cream attract a new group of followers and will they tour again? There is concert in New York at Madison Square Garden on October 24, 25, and 26. If you can, go! You will have a great experience. It would be great if young music lovers “discover” Cream. It would be nice if they did some new material, but reunion concerts are fine too. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do after New York.

I know some people who think Cream was just a short term experiment for the three before they went on to their "real" careers. I think they are totally wrong. Even if Cream only lasted two short years their influence on rock was undeniable, and even today Cream's music stands on its own.


  1. It has been stated in the press that "the band has no future plans." I truly believe that this is a MISTAKE. No, I don't think they should tour. It would be too taxing on their bodies and souls; you want the old animosities to surface again, put those three on a tour bus for a few months. But, the occasional concert here and there, especially on the West Coast, is exactly what fans of great music truly need. If anyone is with me, do me a favor: go to Go the band link where you will find the band members' websites; you can send messages to Ginger and Jack - there is also on the tour section of Jack's site an e-mail link to their London promoter. Eric Clapton - well, you have to join the fan club, but it's probably worth the one-time $40 fee. Make your feelings known. A few more shows here and there for those who missed Madsion Square Garden. It's too good to stop now. We need the Cream. Tell them how much we need them. If enough people make their voices heard, who knows? They read the posts, they will listen.

  2. Thanks! I think you right. Even if it's only a one in 5 year gig, their music is magic.


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