Fresh Cream by Cream

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Fresh Cream by Cream
Fresh Cream by Cream

Album Released: 1966

Fresh Cream ::: Artwork

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2.Sleepy Time Time4:22
4.Sweet Wine3:20
6.Cat's Squirrel3:05
7.Four Until Late2:10
8.Rollin' And Tumblin'4:43
9.I'm So Glad3:59


The first supergroup, the first power trio, and the original cast of the 'lots of talent, get big, get rich, get drugged out, fight a lot, then break up' rock cliché. Cream were three British lads with long permed hair, paisleys painted on their guitars, and a penchant for playing constantly for days and days until their amplifiers actually rolled out under their own power and drowned themselves in the Thames.

These guys didn't invent the solo, but they sure popularized it. They were also sorta the first group that rilly played the blues in the way they did - this is where Hendrix and Zeppelin and Savoy Brown and whatnot got their heavy blooze ideas from. Of course, there were other white electric blues guys before Cream (Paul Butterfield, for example), but none of them made it so freaky and long and ... well, as white as Cream.

For a time, Cream were also the loudest band going. Louder than The Who even. They pioneered such things as playing distorted Marshall amplifiers on purpose. So good thing for us they left some fairly decent popsongs behind - these guys could at times write rings round Jimi Hendrix, to name just one of the contemporary artists that Cream are frequently compared to.

But Cream is rarely where people kick off a love for Rock anymore, having been somewhat overshadowed by their other 60's forebears, because the band's history was so short. But I'd recommend Cream to anyone who's been through the usual early Classic Rock artists and is wondering what band almost single-handedly replaced screaming pre-teen chicks with people who actually sat and listened to live performances. Cream made Rock serious, and they achieved that in less than three years.

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by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza (blogging at Capn Marvel's Bonanza [Defunct])

The British music press must've been ecstatic when it was announced that Britain's young blues guitar hero Eric Clapton, along with bassist / vocalist / harmonica player Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker - Bruce known for session work with Manfred Mann, and both known for their contribution (and infighting) to Britain's jazz/rock pioneers Graham Bond Organisation - would form a group together.

The press must've freaked out in a more negative way though, when the new trio - named Cream - didn't make a blues/jazz/rock combination to dominate the world, but instead ... a somewhat psychedelic pop/rock album with occasional blues songs.

Indeed, Cream's first single - the non-album "Wrapping Paper" - which is added as a bonus track to my digital download edition of Fresh Cream, is as different as one would expect from these three gentlemen's pasts, being a piece of proto-Jazz/pop, more like Blood, Sweat & Tears, such that it's surprising their fans didn't execute them.

Baker and Clapton were not of the opinion that "Wrapping Paper" should've been recorded either, with the former claiming it was the worst piece of shit he'd ever heard in his life (I guess he stopped paying attention by 1983). Funnily enough, I quite enjoy the tune - the contrast between Bruce's corny yet sincere jazzy whispers and Baker and Clapton's 'bored' backup vocals - just as sincere - are a hoot, and the trilling piano and the slide-imitating cello part from Bruce are interesting as well. It's no great shakes, but the unassuming nature of the piece is attractive.

The album proper is nowhere near as 'shocking' as their debut 45 though. While the base of three of the originals from the original UK edition and a fourth one added to the US release are definitely pop or psycho/pop (with blues elements), the covers are all in the blues or Jazz field. Some are slightly poppified, but the blues/rock sound of the late-60's / early-70's is pretty much born somewhere between these tunes. The only cover that sounds more like the originals is bonus track "The Coffee Song", with its rising psycho/pop bassline and smoky melody.

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by Reviewer: Mr X Music Reviews (blogging at When the Music's Over)

Fresh Cream is one of the earliest and best examples of mixing blues and pop, and there are a number of classic songs here that do just that - highlighted by Clapton's solos and Bruce's floating vocals - those being Skip James' "I'm So Glad", and Bruce's self-duet "Dreaming", plus his first collaboration with lyricist Pete Brown, bonus track "I Feel Free".

This album comes from the days when people were scrawling 'Clapton is God' on subway walls and the like around London, and his work is excellent here, even if it's in small doses. Put Clapton's distinctive guitar together with Bruce's good bass work, plus Baker's loud and busy drums, and one can make a good case for saying this album represents the birth of Hard Rock.

After all, it tends to be overlooked that although Fresh Cream is really poppy, it's also very loud for its day. The band's work is fast, powerful, and dexterous, and certainly points the way to Hard Rock, even though - being outside that context at the time - it may not seem that way.

The band's songwriting is out in full force - Bruce does most of it (the traditional "Sleepy Time Time", and the powerful but lyrically deficient "N.S.U."), while Baker delivers one of those uplifting blues/pop songs in "Sweet Wine". Many people hate Bruce's voice, and while I have no problem with it, I am concerned with his vibrato - when it kicks in it's as if his voice shudders and shimmies like he was having a personal earthquake. One gets used to it in time, but it's still a touch disconcerting.

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by Reviewer: Obscurity (blogging at Obscurity!)

Just to prove that not all Clapton-related material is bad, there's Cream, who didn't suck. They just never knew when to shut up and stop playing generic blues.

Fresh Cream is too bluesy though, and half the record is made up of covers. What's up with that?

"I'm So Glad" is a classic, and "Spoonful" is a lot better than the other blues songs here, but the rest of the covers I can live without. As for the originals, "N.S.U." ain't bad, but "Sleepy Time Time" is aptly named!

There's really not that much by way of interesting material here - bonus track "I Feel Free" stands out above the rest so much, it's kinda hard to go past track [1]. And why does Jack Bruce think his harmonica playing is so great that we need to hear it on several of these songs?

Avoid this like you avoided me at the last office Christmas party.

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by Reviewer: Cole Reviews

Cream are not one of my favourite bands. In fact, when I set aside their influence and importance in rock history, I'd consider Cream to be highly over-rated.

For despite being comprised of three of the best musicians of the 1960's (rolling and tumbling Ginger Baker on drums, nimble fingered Jack Bruce on bass, and the incomparable Eric Clapton doing his thing on guitar), Cream were notorious under-achievers throughout their short lifespan.

A thorough examination of the Cream discography will reveal several things. First and foremost, Jack Bruce was a terrible singer. Not only is his voice unpleasant, he often sings off-key! And it doesn't help that the material he sings is unforgivably inane and ridiculous.

Cream albums also sound amateurish - not in the playing, but in the production. Baker's drums sound like biscuit tins, and Bruce's sprawling basslines often disappear in the mix. Lastly, Cream didn't possess a first-rate songwriter. While all three members did manage to come up with some strong material, every Cream record is loaded with filler and blues covers.

That said, Cream are still an exciting band to listen to. A single listen to Strange Brew: The Very Best of Cream will leave you begging for more. So it's worth acquiring a couple of their albums.

I was really looking forward to bashing Fresh Cream - I wrote that harsh opening paragraph and was ready to dig my teeth in and attack. And when I first listened to the entire Cream discography, I thought with this album that I'd found the sacred cow that I was ready to slaughter.

But after absorbing Cream's albums over time, my feelings towards the band have softened. Probably because I realized that while the majority of their material is certainly not in the same league as some of their contemporaries - Led Zeppelin / Hendrix / The Who - their music was relatively harmless. Even with their worst offences - such as Baker's drum solo "Toad" - rather than cringe and be disgusted, I just let the track pass.

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by Reviewer: Marco Marco