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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jack Bruce, of Cream, dies at 71


There is also a version posted to You Tube from the 2005 Cream Reunion.

In the late '60s I was going to art school in Detroit. The Art School of the Society of Arts and Crafts was a cool place back then, filled with music: blues, Motown, jazz and more filled the rooms. The album Disraeli Gears by Cream would have been placed in the 'more' category along with other groups like Savoy Brown. Cream's unique sound has been described as psychedelic blues.

Cream, composed of Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker on drums, was possibly the first of the so-called supergroups. Their debut album was Fresh Cream, followed by Disraeli Gears and then Wheels of Fire. Their last album before the break up was appropriately titled Goodbye. Bruce wrote and sang many of the songs in the Cream playbook.

With the passing of the oh-so-talented Jack Bruce, I find myself remembering all the fine music released by Cream and wondering why these songs are given so little airtime today. The Ultimate Classic Rock (UCR) site has posted what they claim to be the top ten Cream recordings. If you have the time, follow the link and give a listen.

  • Sunshine of Your Love
  • White Room
  • Crossroads
  • Strange Brew
  • Spoonful
  • Tales of Brave Ulysses
  • Badge
  • Born Under a Bad Sign
  • I Feel Free
  • I'm So Glad

If you haven't heard Badge, it only climbed to about number 60 on the top ten list of the time, check out Badge. The UCR site rates it number 7 in their top ten Cream list and I feature it at the top of this post. I drank a lot of beer while listening to Badge spinning at 33 and a third rpm's on my Dual turntable.

The BBC reports: Jack Bruce died at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family. A statement was released saying: "It is with great sadness that we, Jack's family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father and granddad and all-round legend.

"The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts."

When I think of Cream and the late Jack Bruce, I think of folks from my past such as Andy Whipple and Rebekah Wilcher. Both Andy and Becky have also passed on. My world gets smaller and smaller with each passing day.

Andy Whipple used to throw the best parties at his parent's home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And Becky used to take me to the best parties in Berkeley, California, back in the late '60s. Fine wine, good beer, great food and the best music was always to be found at these parties. Cream easily passed the muster.

Not being a musician, I wasn't aware of the rich mix of historic blues to be found on Cream albums. The other folk at these parties were far more sophisticated than I and they would sit on the floor, drinking wine and discussing the distant roots of some of the Cream music: I'm So Glad was an old Skip James song from the '30s, Spoonful was a cover of an earlier take by Howlin' Wolf and Crossroads recalls a 1936 recording by blues great Robert James. Sadly, I'd forgotten most of this and only today began remembering all as I read the many obits praising the late Cream bassist.

Jack Bruce had quite the musical pedigree. He was truly among the cream that rises to the top. He won a scholarship to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, played in a group that featured drummer Charlie Watts, later of The Rolling Stones, and played with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers and Manfred Mann. Composer, singer, and one of rock's best bass players, Jack Bruce was talented. No argument.

Tonight I will pop the cap on a bottle of Steam Whistle and carefully play my Cream albums. Vinyl is has almost disappeared and sadly the artists that made vinyl worth having are slowing fading away too.

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If you have ever wondered what inspired the album name Disraeli Gears, here is an answer I found posted on the Disraeli Gears website. A site dedicated to the derailleur gears used by bike manufacturers.

"You know how the title came about - Disraeli Gears - yeah? We had this Austin Westminster, and Mick Turner was one of the roadies who’d been with me a long time, and he was driving along and Eric (Clapton) was talking about getting a racing bicycle. Mick, driving, went ‘Oh yeah - Disraeli gears!’ meaning derailleur gears . . . We all just fell over . . . We said that’s got to be the album title."

Ginger Baker remembering 1967

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