... than before. Cream was always one of those shizoid bands: studio efforts overdubbed, well produced psychedelia, live shows a tsunami of three soloists having a go at it simultaneously on an Anglo-blues catalogue. Here, for the first time I can remember hearing, they play more like a BAND. There is a locked in cohesion to this show that was never present before, as you can clearly hear when you compare this to the farewell show from '69. These three coined the cliche "supergroup" and were known for playing with a ferocity fueled by their competitive egos. Perhaps as age has slowed them all down and as time has taken its toll on them and their colleagues, the notion of working more in step with each other brings more significant rewards.
It certainly does to the material. Their take here on Willie Dixon, Booker T Jones, Skip James and T-Bone have all the swagger of the masters and less of the youthful unrestrained testosterone of the late 60's. "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "Spoonful" would make their authors proud. "Badge" suffers from Clapton having so thoroughly redefined it with his band that it seems nothing but perfunctory here. However, Baker's bizarre reading of "... Wart..." is so weird that it seems to have gained in its spooky evocation of something both Dickensian and psychedelic. In the case of each of the musicians, they are clearly listening to each other and playing better as a unit than you would ever have any right to expect. There is a supple pwer and subtlety to how integrated they are in each other's rhythms that is inspiring. Given the mediocrity of Clapton's BACK HOME, this is a delightful return to form. He isn't the GOD that he was on Cream's first surfacing, but that was just another way of clotting the music from flowing. All the years have served each of them well. They have not just not missed a beat (still with me?), they're actually a much better band.
The DVD is spectacularly shot. It is the kind of rock film Martin Scorcese would shave his bushy eyebrows for. Miraculously, Baker has survived well. Bruce looks almost as old as Steve Howe, and Clapton is amazing. It is a joy to watch their technique as they play. This really was a brilliant coda that eclipses the original legend. There is much to celebrate on both CD and DVD here. Enjoy!