Tuesday, July 2, 2013


A few weekends ago I watched a DVD on the making of the 1967 Cream album "Disraeli Gears". This disc is part of an outstanding series called "Great Albums". We are taken through the process of making songs and compiling an album, right down to the illustration of the cover. Weren't those covers awesome?

Since I know enough about that group to fill a sticky-note the information imparted in the vid was almost all news to me. While I have been more than familiar with some of the songs for years, I would not have been able to show off and say: "Great album."

One thing I did not know, or rather, I probably did but had forgotten over time, is that guitarist Eric Clapton was a member of Cream. He is one of the vid's interview subjects and the legendary musician is very articulate and informative about his experiences with the group and how he worked on the guitar parts for songs on "Disraeli Gears".

The other two members, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, I was not familiar with by name, but through the fine efforts of the filmmakers, I understood them, their major contributions, and what they experienced: The social and political climate at the time; the state of pop/rock in general; and the characters.

Graphic artist Martin Sharp talks about his approach to the cover and its subsequent rendering. Being a bit of an artist myself, I appreciate the work and thought that goes into album covers, especially the ones that end up being as identifiable, perhaps, as the music itself. Often the artwork takes on a life all its own.

To the punchline: I listened to the complete album and enjoyed it very much as it was done in a period of music -- and a "sound" -- that I have a soft spot for. One thing that amused me was the fact that, starting in June of 1968, lyrics such as "I've been waiting so long, To be where I'm going" and "I found out today we're going wrong, We're going wrong" must have ended up being scratched into many a high school yearbook.


Greg Woods said...

To quote Elwy Yost, "Oh my goodness, yes!" Clapton was in Yardbirds, Cream and Blind Faith before his solo career. Haven't seen this particular entry, but I viewed on MuchMoreMusic the one they made about The Grateful Dead's "Anthem of the Sun", so if it's anything like this, it must have been very learned and interesting.

Barry Smight said...

It was!

Another highly recommended title from the Great Albums series is "Plastic Ono Band". It was interesting in part because the subject album was from the Fires of John Lennon... as you may know.

The sound recording engineer (assistant?) was especially interesting; his stories of the various 'takes' were a highlight -- he would demonstrate some bits by segregating particular tracks. (He was young-ish, even at the interview stage; on the recording of the album he must have been a baby!)

Outstanding series. Oh, that vid has been uploaded to Youtube...

Thanks for your comment!

DonaldAR said...

Surely a frost-bitten Canadian boy should be familiar with at least the classic first track: "Strange Brew" (also the title of the classic Canadian comedy starring the intrepid McKenzie brothers). Dude!"Sunshine of Your Love?"... Arguably not enough dope was smoked in your squandered youth...

Barry Smight said...

As I said I was more than familiar with a few of the songs -- just not the album as a whole.

"Strange Brew", absolutely. But I squandered my youth without the help of "blue smoke".

Thanks for the comment!