Genre: Rock, Classic rock, Psychedelic
Musicians: Jack Bruce – Bass guitar, keyboards, vocals; acoustic guitar, harmonica,
Eric Clapton – Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals,Ginger Baker – Drums, percussion, vocals, Felix Pappalardi – Viola on “White Room” and “Deserted Cities of the Heart”; organ pedals on “Passing the Time”; keyboards on “Badge”; bass guitar on “What a Bringdown”, George Harrison – Rhythm guitar on “Badge”
Producer: Felix Pappalardi & Robert Stigwood
Engineer:Bill Halverson, Adrian Barber, Tom Dowd, Damon Lyon Shaw, Cream
Heavy Cream is a compilation album of material recorded by the British rock band Cream from 1966 to 1968.
Although available in other territories as well, the album was largely released to address the North American market, in order for Polydor Records to leverage Cream’s back catalogue; prior to 1972, Polydor had licensed Cream’s recordings to Atco/Atlantic Records for North American distribution. Now out of print, Heavy Cream was available as a double album during the years 1972-76, and was briefly reissued by Polydor’s affiliated label RSO Records in 1983. My copy happens to be one of the out of print ones, not the reissue.
Heavy Cream is one of the more comprehensive collections of Cream’s work, containing over two-thirds of the band’s studio recordings.
You may notice a guest appearance by Beatle George Harrison. Harrison first invited Eric Clapton to sit in on the sessions including “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, turns out Clapton played lead on that song. So as are turn favor and more so due to a very good friendship, George Harrison makes an appearance here and the subsequent LP from which the song is taken.
I’m just going to comment on some of the stand outs in my opinion. This double LP is basically a collection of their greatest songs. The pressing is ok, it’s not bad.
Of course, straight away we get “Strange Brew” from Cream’s second album Disraeli Gears. Of course, it’s one of my favorites just like everyone else.
It is followed right up with another big favorite “White Room” from Cream’s third album Wheels of Fire
“Badge” – (Clapton, George Harrison) – from Cream’s fourth album Goodbye. This song has a slight flavor of The Beatles to it, gee I wonder why. “Badge” was originally an untitled track. During the production transfer for the album Goodbye, the original music sheet was used to produce the liner notes and track listing. The only discernible word on the page was “bridge” (indicating the song’s bridge section). Due to Harrison’s handwriting, however, Clapton misread it as “badge” — and the song was titled soon thereafter.
Harrison remembered the story differently: “I helped Eric write “Badge” you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that Goodbye Cream album and Eric didn’t have his written. We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part so I wrote ‘Bridge.’ Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing– ‘What’s BADGE?’ he said. After that, Ringo [Starr] walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park.”
A common legend or misconception is that the name came about because its chord progression is B-A-D-G-E, or simply because an anagram of a guitar’s standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) can be arranged to spell “Badge”. However, this is not true.
“Spoonful” (Willie Dixon) – From Cream’s first album Fresh Cream. There is no doubt it got the signature Cream treatment in this version. I think the original is better in my opinion. To me, this song is just better suited for traditional or acoustic blues rather than electric.”Spoonful” is a blues song written by Willie Dixon and first recorded in 1960 by Howlin’ Wolf. Called “a stark and haunting work”, it is one of Dixon’s best known and most interpreted songs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoonful
“Rollin’ and Tumblin’” (Muddy Waters) – From Fresh Cream. If this song needed Cream treatment and powerful percussion, Ginger Baker delivers, but I have never heard the original to my knowledge and may like it better.
“I Feel Free” (Bruce, Brown) – From Fresh Cream. “I Feel Free” is a song first recorded by the British rock band Cream. This song showcases the band’s musical diversity, effectively combining blues rock with psychedelic pop. “I Feel Free” was recorded in September 1966 at Ryemuse Studios. The track was recorded on an Ampex Reel-to-reel audio tape recording by Robert Stigwood and John Timperley. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Feel_Free
“Born Under a Bad Sign” (Booker T. Jones, William Bell) – “Born Under a Bad Sign” is a blues song recorded by American blues singer and guitarist Albert King in 1967. Called “a timeless staple of the blues”, the song also had strong crossover appeal to the rock audience with its bass and guitar harmony line and topical astrology reference. In 1968, British rock group Cream recorded “Born Under a Bad Sign” for their third album, Wheels of Fire. The group’s record company, which also distributed Stax records, requested that they record it, according to guitarist Eric Clapton. Cream’s rendition follows Albert King’s, except for bassist and singer Jack Bruce combining two verses into “I’ve been down ever since I was ten” and an extended guitar solo by Clapton. Musicologist Robert Palmer described Clapton’s playing as “practically Albert King parodies”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_Under_a_Bad_Sign_(song) This is a great blues song, but in my opinion many artists do it better than the Cream version.
“Passing the Time” (Ginger Baker, Mike Taylor) – This is your basic Psychedelic tune.
“As You Said” (Bruce, Brown) – This has Cello in it, imagine that. The song kind of sounds like Donovan if he had gone full psychedelic. (Not one of my favorites).
“Deserted Cities of the Heart” (Bruce, Brown) – from Wheels of Fire. Not much to say except that i kind of like this song.
“Crossroads” (Robert Johnson, arr. Clapton) – from Wheels of Fire. “Cross Road Blues” (more commonly known as “Crossroads”) is a blues song written and recorded by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936. Johnson performed it as a solo piece with his vocal and acoustic slide guitar in the Delta blues-style. The song has become part of the Robert Johnson mythology as referring to the place where he supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talents, although the lyrics do not contain any specific references.
Bluesman Elmore James revived the song with recordings in 1954 and 1960–1961. English guitarist Eric Clapton with Cream popularized the song as “Crossroads” in the late 1960s. Their blues rock interpretation inspired many cover versions and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included it as one of the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”. Rolling Stone placed it at number three on the magazine’s list of the “Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” in recognition of Clapton’s guitar work.
“Sitting on Top of the World” (Walter Vinson, Lonnie Chatmon; arr. Chester Burnett) – From Wheels of Fire. There are lots of Blues on this LP and here’s another. I’ve heard some better versions though.”Sitting on Top of the World” (also “Sittin’ on Top of the World”) is a country blues song written by Walter Vinson and Lonnie Chatmon. They were core members of the Mississippi Sheiks, who first recorded it in 1930.
“Sitting on Top of the World” has become a standard of traditional American music. The song has been widely recorded in a variety of styles – folk, blues, country, bluegrass, rock – often with considerable variations and/or additions to the original verses. The lyrics of the original song convey a stoic optimism in the face of emotional setbacks, and the song has been described as a “simple, elegant distillation of the Blues”.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitting_on_Top_of_the_World
“SWLABR” (Bruce, Brown) – From Disraeli Gears. This is another of my favorites. This song was a collaborative writing effort between poet Pete Brown and bassist Jack Bruce, with Brown providing the lyrics and Bruce the music. The song was released on the 1967 album Disraeli Gears and in 1968 as the B-side to the single “Sunshine of Your Love”.
“Tales of Brave Ulysses” (Clapton, Martin Sharp) – From Disraeli Gears. This is easily one of my all time favorites.
“Take It Back” (Bruce, Brown) – From Disraeli Gears. Yet another blues song, but this one was written by members of Cream. It’s ok, but not one of my favs.
“I’m So Glad” (Skip James) – From Fresh Cream. “I’m So Glad” is a song originally recorded by Skip James in 1931. The song is derived from a song written in 1927 by Art Sizemore and George A. Little entitled “So Tired” and first recorded that same year by Curley Huber. It was covered by Cream on their first album, Fresh Cream, then later put on their last studio album Goodbye as a live performance. It was also covered by Deep Purple on their first album Shades of Deep Purple and by Yuya Uchida and the Flowers on their debut album Challenge.
“Sunshine of Your Love” (Bruce, Brown, Clapton) – From Disraeli Gears. Another of my favs. With elements of hard rock, psychedelia, and pop, it is one of Cream’s best-known and most popular songs.
Many of the other tracks on this double LP set are rather obscure and a couple are down right annoying in my opinion, such as “Doing That Scrapyard Thing” and “What A Bringdown”
Deserted Cities of the Heart: https://youtu.be/Ho-teZSjgZY