Specially repackaged 2008 edition of this four CD box set consisting of 63 tracks that divide Cream's short but immensely influential career into two halves. The first two discs feature every studio track the group ever released, plus a handful of unreleased tracks, alternate takes and rarities. The other two discs are devoted to restored live material, which bring to life some of Cream's finest eclectic moments in concert such as Live At Winterland in San Francisco 1968. The power trio of guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker were visionary with their distinctive sound, a unique collision of Blues, Jazz, Folk and Psychedelic Rock that not only defined the band's identity but captured the thrilling heady atmosphere of the late 1960s and set the ground work for rock bands that followed in the 1970s. This remarkably comprehensive collection comes complete with an extensive booklet, rare photographs and digitally remastered recordings. Universal.
Cream was the first of three supergroups spawned by the Yardbirds' three stellar axmen (they preceded the original Jeff Beck Group by a year and Jimmy Page's Led Zeppelin by two). The trio of guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce, and drummer extraordinaire (and band founder) Ginger Baker earned a reputation for fiery live performances rife with improvised blues-based jams (epitomized by Willie Dixon's "Spoonful") that could last half an hour. Two of this set's four discs are devoted to live Cream, showcasing prowess and interplay so powerful as to overshadow its occasional lapses into self-indulgence. Clapton admirers more familiar with his latter-day laid-back persona may be shocked at the incendiary musician showcased on these live cuts. Cream progressed over the course of its three and a half studio records (included here in their entirety). Electric blues evolution was their forte, but they also captured sounds that were moody and acoustic-tinged ("As You Said," "Passing the Time"), music-hall-influenced ("Mother's Lament," "Wrapping Paper"), and progressively poetic ("Deserted Cities of the Heart," "Pressed Rat and Warthog"). --Jerry McCulley
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