In May of 2005 Cream returned to London's Royal Albert Hall-to the same stage where they had completed what was thought to be their final performance in 1968. It was one of the most eagerly anticipated, hard-to-get tickets... more » in rock history. With the exception of a brief reunion set at their 1993 induction into the Rock and roll Hall of Fame, Cream had not played together in nearly four decades. This DVD documents Cream's momentous London shows. Performances from each of the four nights are featured and much more. Also included are alternate performances and interviews with Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton. Cream formed in 1966 and disbanded in 1968. The band were a prolific and thrilling live act and toured incessantly in their short but remarkable history.Track Listings: I'm So Glad, Spoonful, Outside Woman Blues, Pressed Rat & Warthog, Sleepy Time Time, N.S.U., Badge, Politician, Sweet Wine, Rollin' & Tumblin', Stormy Monday, Deserted Cities of the Heart, Born Under a Bad Sign, We're Going Wrong, Crossroads, Sitting on Top of the World, White Room, Toad, Sunshine of Your Love, Spoonful (Alternate Takes), Sleepy Time Time (Alternate Takes), Badge (Alternate Takes), Sweet Wine (Alternate Takes), Rollin' & Tumblin', We're Going Wrong, White Room, Sunshine of Your Love« less
Junglies | Morrisville, NC United States | 10/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this DVD with some degree of trepidation given that most of these reunion gigs/albums whatever seldom live up to the hype Rumours have abounded about Jack Bruce's poor health and finances as well as personal emnities between the various band members but in the end I could not pass it up.
From the moment that the band walked on the stage I had a lump in my throat and from the very fist note it was clear that in the intervening years since Goodbye Cream the only thing that had changed was the degree of skill and virtuosity that each possessed had increased.
I am not churlish about the song selection given the stated number of songs that the trio had played together summed to only 35 as per Bruce including the ones that had never been played. I am sure that each of us has our own favourites that we wanted them to play and we were disappointed by their exclusion but ce la vie. I do agree with others that a gesture to the diehard fans about making available the totality of the concerts available on CD would be a good one. Especially since Eric has done it before regarding his solo performances in the same venue.
Before foccussing on the songs I must say that for me the most poignant moment can when they were performing Badge and Clapton left the section attributed to his friend George on the album silent before resuming his blistering, very heartfelt playing. If these shows are about anything it is about learning that life is too short for holding grudges and we should all be thankful of each opportunity to share our wonderful gifts with others.
Aside from the music the highlights of this two disc set lie in the camera shot of Brian May in the audience during the performance, another friend who has been a good asscoiate of Eric's in recent years and the brief interviews, alas each done separately giving us insight into the shows.
AS for the music, it is a shock to the system to see what these three old men can put out on stage just in terms of the sheer power of the trio. The band rehearsed a lot we know but the blistering improvisations remain outstanding and the Grateful Dead would be proud. The interplay between Bruce and Clapton was a joy to behold and Bruce's bass almost seemed to be alive. Ginger Baker may be getting on a bit but he can still pound the life out of the drum kit.
For me Crossroads brought tears to my eyes as did Badge, The initial chords of the blues song seemed an anachronism in an odd sort of way but Clapton has a way of giving each song another idiosyncratic feel at the heart of the blues tradition but at the same time in a very contemporary manner. His seemingly endless capacity to express his emotions in a different way in each song in such an easy manner is incredible and that was no more so in evidence in We're Going Wrong.
To me none of the songs were a disappointment even Pressed Rat and Wharthog which even seemed to belong. You almost wanted the discs to go on forever and the surprising thing is that by the end they do not seem to have been on long at all.
I thought that I had seen the pinnacle of Clapton playing at the Concert for George in the loving yet mournful rendition of While My Guitar Gently Weeps yet in these shows you found the full gamut of hurt and anguish, joy and pain, being delivered almost offhandedly by a Clapton whose own life experiences have earned him the term blues player. These three guys on the stage infront of such a mixed age audience drew us all in the to excellent playing and in effect into their own intimate relationship. The DVD selection in the fantastic sound derserves to be in every home.
Cream we salute thee. The Cream is dead. Long live the Cream."
4 1/2 stars for a great DVD of a great band
bass boy | Arkansas | 09/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of course Cream isn't playing with the same ferociousness they did when they were in their 20s back in the 1960s, but name one band from that era that still does. The Who's Pete Townshend still has his manic-style of guitar thrashing, but that's about it. The Stones are still good, but not as intense as they once were. On to the Cream DVD. Great picture, great audio. It's widescreen, with a lot of detail and depth to the visuals. The colors are lively and the vibe of the show is caught well on this video. Sound is very, very good, with lots of Jack Bruce's bass (taking a less "dirty" tone here than in the 1960s) and full, well-rounded drum sound from Ginger Baker. His toms and bass drums boom, and his high-hat, which he miraculously works with his foot through the entire DVD, helps add mid- and high-range sounds in the absence of a second guitar or keyboards. Here's Cream, the original three - Bruce, Baker and Eric Clapton, playing together again. And it sounds great. Yes, there not as firey as they once were, bu they still jam. Baker's "Toad" is a treat, and his drum solo, with its swing-style and floating vibe, is very impressive. Bruce and Clapton trade off verses on "White Room," which is a nice change from the original recording, although not necessarily better. The new DVD shows Cream to have much more of a sense of humor on-stage than some might think. Clapton, Baker and Bruce are seen smiling at each other constantly, showing that they've kissed and made up, so to speak. As a musician, it's fun to watch their eye-contact with each other, wondering if some of those smiles are from possible mistakes they're making on their instruments. Regardless, they're amazing musicians, and no flubbed notes are evident (except on the alternate extra of "Sunshine of Your Love," where Clapton misses his first vocal cue and then laughs). Clapton also seems more relaxed on-stage than in other vidoes of his solo concerts. It's remarkable, considering that he was stressed a bit from not being able to rely on a second guitar and keyboard. But that's the charm of this video. Three instruments (four, if you count Bruce's harmonica, and he works gloriously into overtime here) and three voices, and that's all. The video was taken from four nights at the Royal Albert Hall, and although it could have felt like a chop job, rocketing back and forth between nights, it doesn't. The date is subtly put in the corner of the screen whenever the concert changes, and it feels like a smoothly-edited documentary movie. It's very, very good, with the camera and editing personnel not afraid to hold a shot for longer than 7 or 8 seconds. The audience shots mostly are held to a minimum. There are some cool shots of the Hall's lobby during the concert, and some outdoor shots. Surprisngly, they work. The extra interviews are brief, but all right. It's interesting that Clapton says he kind of initiated the reunion after Jack fell ill a year or two ago. Jack does look awfully thin in the video, but his bass skills and his vocals are still there. We only hope he's not sick. Watching Baker don Cream 2005 tour shirts throughout the video, the viewer wishes they'd do a full-scale reunion of America, instead of just a few nights in NY in October. A very good DVD to own. Peace"
Three True Rock Icons Together Again!
Gregory Canellis | Tuckerton, NJ USA | 12/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1966, Cream spearheaded the first wave of the British rock invasion and revolutionized the concept of the power trio. Their brief career, lasting only three years, left a musical legacy that exists to this day. Cream standards such as: "Sunshine of Your Love" (track 19, encore), "Crossroads" (track 15), "White Room" (track 17), and "Badge" (track 8) grace the classic rock airwaves from coast to coast daily. Their live show set the standard for rock concerts for decades to follow. Ginger Baker was one of the first to incorporate double bass drums, extra toms and cymbals into a now familiar kit that would be imitated by a generation of rock drummers. Jack Bruce, schooled as a classical cellist, showed that a Marshall stack was not only for guitarists, and changed the role of the electric bass forever. Eric Clapton went on to become the preeminent blues-rock guitarist of our times.
For those of us who remember Cream, their 2005 reunion, culminating in a four night engagement at London's Royal Albert Hall stirred anticipation from bar room to board room. For others too young to remember, this reunion is a heart warming lesson in the bonds of friendship, and musical mastery. Producers John Beug and James Pluta captured the best of Cream's set in a two-disc DVD package that no fan, young or old can afford to miss. The package and accompanying song list resembles a flower-powered, psychedelic painted Volkswagen bus. Yet this cosmetic debauchery cannot mask the sound and visual artistry within.
The 19-song set, consisting of mostly Cream hits, and a few blues covers (with three alternate takes) highlights the second, third and final nights' performances. Brief, interviews of all three band members, round out the package. Although oscillating from show to show disrupts the continuity of watching one performance from beginning to end, this tactic is not too annoying. The producers wisely chose to utilize the three-way split screen effect sparingly. Audience shots and brief views of the inner bowls of the historic Royal Albert Hall are weaved together, and inserted tastefully. Yet it is the honesty and integrity of the musicians on stage that leave the viewer spellbound and breathless.
The band opens with an awkward rendition of their hit "I'm So Glad." Bruce, shorter than we remember, dons a beautiful red mahogany vintage Gibson EB-1, the violin-shaped bass popularized by the late Felix Pappalardi of Mountain. Bruce will play this instrument for half the DVD, before switching to a fretless Warwick, his axe of choice in recent years. Clapton, wearing brand new, off the rack denims and "Wallabies(?)" looks scruffy in a four-day growth of beard. Baker, the oldest of the three at 66, wears jeans (rolled up to the knee, an old trademark) Cream tee-shirt, and a pair of Oxfords in dyer need of a shine. He looks more like one's grandfather, than a rock legend. Beautiful A cappella vocal harmonies by Clapton and Bruce in the bridge, soon remind the audience, that despite outward appearances, the old Cream magic is still there.
Bruce's crisp vocal range, responsible for Cream's distinct sound, is quite evident in Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" (track 2). Originally running over six minutes, this piece exhibits the band's standard formula built upon a riff, and basic blues progression. Clapton's long, soul searching guitar solo, backed by improvisational jamming and thunderous rhythms by Bruce and Baker, provide the template for "Politician" (track 8), "Born Under a Bad Sign" (track 13), and "Sitting on Top of the World" (track 16).
Clapton's slow hand is surely felt on Arthur Baker's "Outside Woman's Blues" (track 3), and T-Bone Walker's immortal "Stormy Monday" (track 11). Bruce blows a mean blues harp, and gets the normally subdued London audience dancing in the aisles with Muddy Water's "Rollin' and Tumblin'" (track 10). Nicely arranged vocal harmonies between Bruce and Clapton on Bruce's own "Sleepy Time Time" (track 5) provide one of the show's highlights.
Bruce's unique song writing, arrangement, and singing styles are further evident in "We're Going Wrong" (track 14), "N.S.U." (track 6), and "Deserted Cities of the Heart" (track 12). Baker's less known writing contributions are displayed in "Sweet Wine" (track 9), while "Pressed Rat and Warthog" (track 4) is resurrected in Baker's gruff deep baritone speaking voice. It is on "Toad" (track 18), the compulsory drum solo, where Baker confirms he is still the founding father of rock/jazz drummers. This solo is breath-taking, meticulous, and never is a misjudged rim shot or stick clashing in mid-air to be heard. At 66, Baker unequivocally reaffirmed his place at the pinnacle of his profession.
There are several moments of pure fun, on stage. "You're just trying to make me nervous," declares Baker, after Clapton introduced Peter Edward Baker, before "Pressed Rat and Warthog." Bruce smiles broadly at Baker, for following his up-scale bass line with machine-gun tom-toms, and both miraculously came back in time. Then, Bruce and Clapton acknowledge a smile and a nod after a satisfying performance.
There are slight imperfections as well. In "Sunshine of Your Love" (alternate take), Clapton starts to sing a verse too early, as Bruce glances over and smiles forgivingly. Bruce, likewise misses a bass cue in "N.S.U.", and more than once, Baker finishes a drum roll two early, and waits motionless for his band mates to catch up. One critique is the slower tempo of "Crossroads." Bruce just did not attack those now classic bass runs, as he did in the original version. Though professing that "we wanted to play as we do now, not as we did then," I wanted Bruce to set his fret board on fire. Yet Clapton, Bruce and Baker are only human; three musical icons together again after thirty-seven years. If you remember the early days of British rock, ever jammed a blues into the early morning hours, or are a classic rock fan, you need this DVD!
A former Clapton basher comes clean
Telegram Sam | Richmond, VA | 12/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I see myself as one of those Clapton "purists" who thought 1)his move to Fender Stratocasters and 2)his solo material after Derek and the Dominoes, did not compare to Cream, and his brief stint in John Mayall's band. I felt cheated buying his pop albums of the mid to late 80's (remember "Forever Man"?), as well as his synthetic/plastic blues albums of the early to mid 90's. From this period, I thought "Unplugged" was the exception. Aside from the death of his son, with the song that he wrote in tribute, Clapton was to me a souless, clinical guitar player.
Then I received the "Concert for George" DVD for X-mas two years ago. When I saw Clapton pour his heart into that tribute concert for his friend (George Harrison), I knew there was still some life left in him. Especially the solo for "My Guitar Gently Weeps", which brings back the old Clapton solo phrasing, something I had not heard in years.
Because of that concert/DVD, I was optimistic about how Clapton would play for a Cream reunion that came to reality 5/05. I must say I'm not in the least disappointed with this performance. While many think a 60 year old Clapton, a 66 year old Baker, and a 62 year old Bruce are going to play with the same energy 36 years later is dreaming. Clapton's Leslie/Fender tube amp setup with his custom Strat is a beefy combination that fits well with Bruce's new Hartke bass amps.
When I watch this DVD I realize Bruce needed Clapton, and vice versa. They feed off each other and compete to improve through every jam/solo. Clapton plays with an inspiration I haven't heard in years (if not ever), while Bruce is always trying to edge ahead of Eric on the shorter but not weaker jams of the 2005 edition. "Sweet Wine" is the one song/jam that reminds me of Cream of the past. That song is worth the price of this DVD alone.
The Circle is Finally Complete
Jefferson T. Packer | Taos, NM | 02/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, I would advise level-headed readers to ignore the one-star extremists. These people are so cynical that if Jesus Christ Himself were to make a comeback in their living rooms, they would scorn Him as a sellout because He wasn't still wearing the original crown of thorns.
Frankly, I don't care why Cream decided to make this concert happen - I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude that they did it before one of them left us. Let's get real. These three men are closing in on 70, and they have absolutely no right to play as well, sing as beautifully or sound as incredible as they do on this DVD. Basically, what you have here are three grandfathers playing a young man's hard driving blues, and doing a d**n fine job. In the music business, perhaps only B.B. King, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash have worn their years as magnificently as Eric, Jack and Ginger do here.
This isn't a "comeback" or a "reunion," despite what the DVD credits would have us believe. Musically, this is a continuation, a new chapter in the annals of Cream. Yes, they play most of their original hits, and yes there are (many) moments when you'll hear the young men they once were coming out in their voices and in their playing. But a perfect recreation of their 1968 sound is not what this concert is about.
Instead, this is like classical pianist Glen Gould's "Book End" recordings of the Goldberg Variations. He recorded them first in his 20's and then again in his 70's. The songs are the same, the brilliance is the same; the interpretations are subtly but powerfully different, as one would expect from a man who has gathered fifty years of life experience between them.
Any attempt by Cream to exactly reproduce their sound from 1968 for the May 2005 R.A.H. concert would have turned this into a sad caricature, in the same way that it would have been pathetic for them to have grown out their hair and squeezed into polyester bell bottoms. As Jack says in one of the interviews, "We didn't want to become a tribute band to ourselves; that would have been awful." I couldn't agree more, and if we want to experience Cream circa 1968, that's what "Fresh Live Cream," "Cream Farewell Concert" and "Cream Live Vols 1 & 2" are for.
Instead, what this DVD gives us is a miraculous concert by three of the greatest musicians ever to pick up the fundamental classic rock instruments. The songs are familiar, and so is the general sound, but the music itself is new in a way that is magnificent.
As for the production: The sound quality is flawless, the video is perfect, the camera angles are occasionally irritating but often quite good, and the band is tastefully presented alone on stage with no backup musicians or overdubbing. While I would have enjoyed seeing more extra materials on the 2nd DVD, such as an interview with all three at the same time and some vintage film footage, what we get in the whole set is still worth several times the selling price.
Real fans of this trio will be overwhelmed and overjoyed to experience what they have given us on this DVD. They were purists then, and they are purists now."