Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cream - The Five Best Songs From Rock's Original Power Trio

By Jim Hofman

Cream, featuring the brilliant talents of Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton, is one of the most legendary bands of all time. Their influence is monumental and their music still resonates today. Here is our list of the five best Cream songs...

Formed in 1966 by drummer Ginger Baker, Cream is more than the sum of its three parts. Also featuring world class bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce and legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, Cream's musical chemistry is undeniable.

All three members were, and are, acknowledged as one of the best ever at their musical trade. The combination of talents was intense and sometimes explosive. Numerous bands of today credit Cream and its members as major influences. They were a ground breaking mix of jazz, rock, and blues, not only creating their own compositions but spotlighting old blues songs that might otherwise not have become popular.

Here is a list of our five favorite Cream songs. As with any list, it is subject to opinion. Some you may know, others you may not, but it is safe to say that each of these songs highlight the individual and collective talents of Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton. In no particular order, here they are:

White Room

From the 1968 Wheels of Fire double album, White Room is a Jack Bruce and Peter Brown composition, although the contributions of Baker and Clapton should have been noted in the songwriting credits. The winding, psychedelic lyrics are only surpassed by the musicianship. Listen to Baker's "Bolero" drum beat and his signature use of the cymbals. Bruce carries the vocals, lifting into soprano range and back to tenor. Meanwhile, Clapton pioneers the use of the famous wah wah pedal, giving White Room its familiar sound.


Crossroads is a Robert Johnson composition that deeply influenced Clapton as a young guitarist. The version you frequently hear was recorded live in 1968 and was released on Wheels of Fire. Clapton steals the show here with two dazzling solos that are recognized as among the best ever, and he also takes the vocals. Listen closely the next time you hear the song and take in Jack Bruce's driving bass. He plays counter melody to Clapton's guitar, and the results are extraordinary. This is Cream's musicianship at its finest.

Stepping Out

Another blues standard favored by Clapton, this is an instrumental. It is available as a bonus track in repackaged Cream releases, and on You Tube. Search for the 1967 version, played for a Swedish radio station. The blending of the three talents is mind boggling and it is easy to pick out the drums, bass, and lead guitar, as neither member outshines the other. This is a real under the radar gem.

I'm So Glad

From their debut release in 1966, Fresh Cream, I'm So Glad was originally written by Skip James. The unique guitar intro also serves as the songs coda. Jack Bruce shines on vocals and it is hard to believe he was only 23 when it was recorded. But in our opinion, Ginger Baker steals the show here. His sense of timing, counter beat technique, and use of cymbals is a real treat. Cream opened their 2005 reunion songs with I'm So Glad, so be sure to watch or listen to both versions.

Born Under A Bad Sign

Penned by the great bluesman Albert King, Cream played this song at their 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. The version is available on You Tube. Much like White Room, this song allows each member to shine equally. Baker's driving back beat kicks the song into overdrive, while Bruce plays the melody on bass and provides stellar blues vocals. Not to be outdone, Clapton scorches here with guitar riffs that are among his very best.

This is just our own personal list of favorites, recognizing numerous other Cream classics are missing. Which are your favorites?

Cream, the legendary power trio featuring Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton, is one of the most influential bands of all time. To learn more about this extraordinary musical collaboration, visit us today at:

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