Supergroup Showcase: Cream

THE PLAYERS: Eric Clapton on guitar (The Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers), Jack Bruce on bass and vocals (Blues Incorporated, Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Manfred Mann) and Ginger Baker on drums (Graham Bond Organisation).
THE STORY: The three guys all knew each other and got together, forming the preeminent blues trio in England. Baker and Bruce had played together in a band and hated each other, so it was tough going. The band was together for just a few years and recorded four albums between 1966 and 1968. (via Wiki)

I was actually pretty surprised when I discovered that Cream was a supergroup. I always just thought of them as an awesome blues-based classic rock band. Sure, I knew that Clapton was a big deal even back then, but it took some reading up on Bruce and Baker to really understand why they’re considered one of the first supergroups of rock. Though they weren’t quite famous in the States at the time, these guys were a huge deal in the UK.

I have to admit, I’m not completely immersed in Cream. I have one of those 20th Century Masters greatest hits records that I’ve had for ever and haven’t really listened to a lot in recent years, but I used to borrow my dad’s copy of their second and most critically acclaimed record Disraeli Gears (pictured above). Even without having a lot of experience with the band’s catalog, though, I know a good thing when I hear it. These guys really were the best of the best when it came to blues rock at the time. Their songs are tight and pack quite a punch, though I hear their live shows tended to go on and on with jams. I haven’t heard any of their live shows, but I’d definitely be interested in tracking some live shows or bootlegs down. They apparently jammed with Jimi Hendrix in London. Does anyone know if recordings of that event exist? I’d love to get my hands on that. The mix of psychedelia and blues had a huge influence on what was going on in the rock scene of the late 60s and early 70s. The guys just couldn’t stay together and Clapton had already established himself as a kind of wandering minstrel losing interest in groups and moving on to others. Pretty much everything that dude joined after that is considered a supergroup. I’ve been listening to some of his 70s records lately like 461 Ocean Boulevard and Slowhand and am not only impressed with the guy’s skill, but also with how easily he creates awesome rock songs. I just picked Disraeli Gears up today but haven’t had a chance to listen to it again, but I’m really looking forward to doing so soon.

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