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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

REVIEW: Royal Albert Hall: London 2-3-5-6 2005-Cream


Pretty much from the beginning, I was a fan of the group Cream. From junior high, when my good friend chastized our history teacher for referring to the group first as Fresh Cream (the title of the first album), then The Cream. "No, it's Cream, just Cream!" Well not "just" Cream, but a remarkable powerful sound coming from just three players.
The group really took off with the second album, Disraeli Gears, which featured "Sunshine of Your Love", subject of the trivia question below. Unfortunately, the group was together for only 4 albums (all of which I owned and own) and about three years. (I'm not counting the posthumous stuff.) Much of that small body of work was live, half of the double album Wheels of Fire and 3 of the 6 songs on Goodbye Cream.

I felt excitement and not a little trepidation when I heard about new Cream music. Royal Albert Hall turned out to be both. I know "I'm So Glad", the 9-minute anthem from Goodbye Cream, practically note-for-note. The RAH version, while good, simply would not compare, would it? No, and the next track, the oft-recorded "Spoonful" didn't meet my impossible standards either. But as I listened on, I found the album turned out to be rather enjoyable. And on subsequent listens, even those tracks I knew so well in different incarnations took on a pleasurable tone for me. In fact, the only thing I could have done without is the 10-minute drum-laden "Toad", but I wasn't into extended drum solos in 1968, either.

So, if you're very much versed in the Cream sound as I am, you'll find the package to be good, but for those who didn't grow up with the music, and I've talked to some of my younger office colleagues, they are blown away by the collection.

I'm guessing the American reviewer is younger than the Canadian one.

Well, that was what I thought of the CD. For the DVD, I had a totally different feeling: I loved it. Maybe it's the knowing nods the bandmates give each other, but this concert is definitely better seen and heard than just heard. I can only compare it, strangely, with the 1960 Presidential debate. People hearing the debate on radio thought Nixon had won the debate, but TV viewers thought it was Kennedy who was victorious.

We're talking largely about the very same music, though the DVD has an extra song and revealing interviews that show the origin of the reunion. My advice: see it first, THEN listen.

You may also be interested in the Cream media player, where you can see some of the Cream videos here.
***
Now for the rest of the story. I get this e-mail that reads:

Hi,

I just found your blog: http://rogerowengreen.blogspot.com/2005/09/my-darth-tater-contest-selection.html and I think you may be of some help to me. I'm reaching out to you on behalf of M80 & Rhino regarding Cream London Royal Albert Hall CD and DVD. Since you are a fan of The Yardbirds, I thought that you might be interested in posting the press release and/or an entry on your blog? You seem like a reputable influencer, and I love your blog, so I think you'd be a big help to us

Please let me know if you're interested!

Thanks!


I'm thinking it might just be spam, but then I reread it. He found a post I wrote about a CD I sent to Lefty. An innovative way to get the word out.

"A reputable influencer?" Yikes!
So, I wrote back, was sent the first review copies I've received since I got some comics in the 1980s.

Got stuff for me to review? I'll promise to review it. (Won't promise to like it, though.)
***
Now, for a trivia question: The guitar break in "Sunshine of Your Love" is swiped from what song which was a hit many times since 1949, and reached #1 in 1961? (Block the BLANK space for the answer.)

Blue Moon, recorded by (according to Whitburn):
Mel Torme (#20, 1949)
Billy Eckstine (#21, 1949)
Elvis Presley (#55, 1956)
The Marcels (#1, 1961)
Herb Lance (#50, 1961)
The Ventures (#54, 1961)

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