A Cream reunion was among the most hoped-for items on the collective classic rock wish list -- and, judging by the antipathy its members had shown toward the notion, one of the least likely to come to fruition. Despite the long odds, the planets aligned long enough in 2005 to bring Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker back together for a stint at London's Royal Albert Hall -- the site of the final show in their original incarnation -- that outstripped even the most optimistic forecasts. This two-disc set, which spans all four nights of the engagement, shines light on all sides of the Cream conundrum: the blues testifying, the musicianly jams, and even the underrated pop songcraft. A good portion of the collection is given over to the first aspect, with Clapton given wide berth to swing his most feral riffage like a lasso, snaring standards like "Spoonful" and "Born Under a Bad Sign" -- both of which peel back the years like an acid burning through years of paint. The passel of extended jams that vein the collection are equally effective in turning back the hands of time. On "Rollin' and Tumblin'," for instance, Bruce breaks out his harmonica to spar with Clapton, with no holds barred; "Deserted Cities of the Heart" dispenses with the 12-bar structure altogether in favor of a brawny take on psychedelia that -- while not as mind-bending as it may have seemed 30-some years ago -- still cracks open a few synapses. Most interesting of all, however, are the glimpses of succinct -- albeit high-volume -- pop offered up in versions of "White Room" and a flashy "Badge." The performances captured here make it easy to see why Cream earned so many accolades in their brief initial run; they also give off enough residual tension to make it clear that the trio ultimately had to split. At least they've left a proper farewell note this time.
Royal Albert Hall: London May 2-3-5-6 2005 3.5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
disappointing live album. yes, their are some fine moments but that should at the least be expected with a 2 album effort. jack bruce was good, but eric Clapton's fender guitar doesn't have the bite as his Gibson's he used during Cream's reign. he had a leslie on stage but along with his wahwah peddle (for white room) he forgot to use it. underwhelming.
More than 1 year ago
The Cream reunion CD is a success, but it does have flaws. Bruce, Baker, and Clapton sound fine. After a while, though, you wish that they had added keyboards or horns to a few songs to add some variety. The trio format is limiting even with such fine players. I think a few new songs or an unplugged number or two might also have added interest. In their heyday, the group experimented quite a bit. It’s too bad they didn’t take a chance or two. Still, it is good to hear Clapton push himself and play the type of guitar that made his reputation.
More than 1 year ago
Without question, this set is one that requires you to listen through both discs at least 3-4 times, before you're pretty well hooked on these versions of the groups' classics. I didn't expect to hear Clapton's historical speed or Baker's earlier chops, but don't let that stop you. No, you won't hear Crossroads at the pace Clapton originally sped on the original live version, but you WILL enjoy a more subdued, blusey version that (like the acoustic version of Layla) compliments the classic rendition. In terms of the 2 CD's my preference is side 2, but the whole set is a great listen. Yes, I would like to have heard even more Clapton, but people, the work on Stormy Monday, Born Under A Bad Sign, Crossroads and the alternate take of Sleepy Time is a great return on investment. While I didn't expect Baker to fly across the kit at his previous pace, the fact is, he shows that it's technique (not speed) that makes the drum set sing. The only caveat (and yeah, this is winy), is the cheap flimsy case the CD's come in - pretty pathetic quality given the importance of the event itself. Enjoy.
More than 1 year ago
This rocks me like my back ain't got no bone! I ain't superstitious but the blues just crossed my trail, yes it did!! Is there a blue-er guitarist than EC? Is there a better blues shouter than Jack Bruce? Can anyone do a longer drum solo than my man Gingy? I think not! Most of these songs are long enough for my nurse to change my diaper, and I LOVE IT!!!
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