Cream was a British rock band that was active between 1966-1969. They were considered by many to be the first super group, and referred to as a power trio. The band consisted of Eric Clapton(guitars, singer), Jack Bruce(bassist, singer) and Ginger Baker(drums). Cream played a mix of psychedelic rock, blues rock and hard rock. They were extremely popular in the psychedelic era in the middle to late sixties, and were considered very influential to other musicians, and made the use of the wah-wah pedal when playing guitars. Jimi Hendrix, as well as other musicians made the use of the wah-wah pedal popular around this time as well.
The album starts of with Strange Brew, one of the two radio hits off of Disraeli Gears, the other being Sunshine of Your Love. While the meaning behind the song lyrics is debated, to me this is a song about drugs, specifically, LSD, which was basically the drug of choice in the psychedelic era. Basically, the whole period is about the effects of LSD and how people came to terms with how it made them feel. This song is about that, but also comes with a warning, “Strange brew, kill what’s inside of you.” This, of course could be a warning about taking drugs in general, but in this time period, I think LSD was the drug in question.
The next song on Disraeli Gears, is one of the most recognisable songs in all of Creams repertoire, Sunshine of Your Love. This song has a guitar riff that has become one of the most beloved in rock music. The riff is unmistakable Cream, and even if people don’t know it’s Cream, many people recognise this distinct riff. Non other than Jimi Hendrix covered Sunshine of Your Love on his record Live at Winterland. This Cream tune has made it on some music lists as being one of the top songs of all time.
Without reading too much into the meaning of Sunshine of Your Love, I think it is a straight up love song, with sexual undertones. It is beautifully written lyrically, but, of course, it means different things to different people. One of my favorites.
Blue Condition is a song written by drummer Ginger Baker, and it is a song about deep reflection. He seems to be saying to take your own path, and do what you want to do, but if where you find yourself makes you blue, reevaluate, and take a good look at where you are in life. In any case, it is up to you to make yourself happy. Kind of deep, but this is how I interpret the song.
Another great song starts off side two of the record, Tales of Brave Ulysses. It is a poem written by Martin Sharp and Eric Clapton. Sharp was the person who also designed the album cover for Cream’s next record Wheels of Fire. The poem is beautiful, and matches well with the music. The song runs very smooth, and is one of the best songs on the album in my opinion.
SWLABR is another song on the record, it stands for “She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow.” The weirdest and most obscure song on the album, it was a written by a poet named Pete Brown, and much like it’s title, isn’t really meant to mean much, just a silly psychedelic gem, with a great guitar riff.
Outside Woman Blues is another great song with some excellent drumming by Ginger Baker, and some advice from Eric Clapton, that “You can’t watch your wife and your outside women, too.”
The last song, Mother’s Lament, is the last song on the record, and it finishes it out on a wonderful note. It is old English drinking song, sung in a heavy British accent and a great piano piece at the end. An awesome ending to a great record.