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Royal Albert Hall May 2005
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Cream, the legendary band of Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, performed for the first time in 37 years in May 2005. One of the most highly anticipated reunions in rock, the concert at London's Royal Albert Hall-where the band played its farewell show November 26, 1968-returned to the stage the trio that forever changed rock 'n' roll. Now the best of those historic peformances are available on Royal Albert Hall London May 2-3-5-6 2005. Reprise. 2005.
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If they decided to take it on the road, I'd be the first in line to buy tickets.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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!
Eric, with original members Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker performing like the superstars of old, rock the Albert Hall to the delight of thousands who were fortunate enough to be there. For us, the unlucky, this great 2 DVD Set can be ordered, and when played on a surround sound/ big screen system, this show comes alive. With outstanding editing, a high quality soundtrack, excellant near HD quality picture, this concert is at the top of my top ten list. This DVD sets the standard for outstanding music DVD videos.
As it was back in their heyday, each member is afforded his own showcase. For Jack Bruce, it's "Rollin' And Tumblin'." On this number Jack, accompanied by his harmonica (no bass), Eric playing the slide, and Ginger Baker on the drums, stuns and amazes the crowd with an energy that belies the fact that the man nearly died in 2003. Eric Clapton's showcase is the T-Bone Walker classic "Stormy Monday." This is a new song for Cream as it was never on an official Cream release until this collection came out. Slowhand demonstrates that when he wants to, he is the master of the blues guitar. The man was simply on fire the night they recorded this song. Ginger Baker's showcase was, of course, the drum solo "Toad." By and large, drum solos are usually excuses to head to the bathroom or the concession stand. Not so here. "Toad" is simply compelling. It's isn't boring - it's Ginger Baker demonstrating that yes, the drum IS a musical instrument. By the time the solo ends you don't realize it had gone on for over seven minutes. It's that good!
The big surprise of this whole collection is Ginger's song "Pressed Rat and Warthog" from "Wheels of Fire." On the DVD that visually documented this reunion, Ginger told the interviewer that he was "threatened with execution" by his family if he didn't play this song. At a little over three minutes, this is the only hint of psychedelia that Cream shows throughout the set. Slowhand plays it straight - not a wah-wah pedal to be heard, and frankly it isn't missed (much). Jack Bruce is in fine voice throughout. Of interest is the band's different take on White Room. Instead of Jack Bruce singing the entire song as he has done since he wrote it, Jack sings the first two verses, Eric takes the refrain of those two verses, then the two swap roles for the third verse and refrain. Eric's song "Badge" had never been played live by Cream as it was recorded at the end of their 1960s run, and here Jack Bruce proves once and for all to hear that if you took his bass lines away from the song, there would be no song.
There are lots of plusses on this collection. The jamming is kept to a tolerable length, hence more songs to enjoy. The volume is lower than in their heyday, so the musicians can hear each other, and the interplay between the musicians makes for some outstanding music. One need look no further for proof of this than Cream's take on "We're Going Wrong". Thirty-seven years ago this band was full volume pedal to the metal jamming. Today this band plays like adults - it swings! Credit that to Ginger Baker, who plays more like a jazzer these days (when he does play). There is one minus - no "Tales of Brave Ulysses" (they fixed this oversight when they played MSG in October 2005). Other than that, this collection is a worthy addition to Cream's legacy. Buy it now!
Well, memory is a strange and deceptive mistress. I have a 19 year old son who s a demon sax player, and I am afraid that I have skewed his view of music by the "in my day..." nostalgia, although I don't regret introducing him to old school friend (yes, the same school!)Andy Sheppard on sax, because Andy is the best soprano player in the world: but I am aware that young kids can miss out on a lot of the good new stuff because "Dad thinks it's rubbish" - dangerous territory.
But then, out of the blue, along comes a chance to see if all those old memories are just rose-tinted or actually quite accurate, with the announcement that Cream were reforming for 4 gigs only. So, after virtually remortgaging the house, I bought two tickets for the Thursday night and off son and I went.
When the three old boys walked on stage, the ovation was deafening. There was Jack, fresh from a liver transplant, the type of which poor old Rory Gallagher did not survive: there was Ginger, riddled with arthritis and in his sixties: and there was Eric, after a life of hard times, addiction problems and mixed musical fortunes.
And off they went. My God, and off they went. Several things I had forgotten: they can all sing and the harmonies were exceptional: Ginger's drum sound is the most exciting thing you could ever hear: Jack has the voice of an angel with a range denied to all but a very few: and Eric can play anything.
I know that it sounds unbelievable to those who were not there, but they were just about note-perfect from start to finish - and now we have this fantastic DVD to prove it. On a personal note, the "Stormy Monday" and "Toad" were both recorded the night we were there and both are just brilliantly played - what's that about the band jamming, everybody? After Toad, my son said that this was the best ten minutes of his musical life, having seen Jeff Beck, Stevie Winwood, Meatloaf, Eric and Andy Sheppard in the same 12 months. Other high spots are "We're going wrong" "Sunshine" (of course) "Rollin and a tumblin" and "Crossroads" (although the Wheels of Fire version is definitive).
The whole DVD is a joy to watch and the playing is mind-bending. It's not just three old mates having a good time, it's three absolutely faultless musicians having a good time. For once, son and I could compare notes and agree that perhaps' Dad's memory was not too bad after all. If you have not bought this DVD you should: the Stormy Monday alone is worth the price of admission on its own.
A few weeks ago, my wife was waitressing at a shoot on the downs (hills) near us. Eric was there and signed two programmes - one from 1967 and one from 2005. Same line-up, same music, same magic. He also signed a mug for my daughter, "To Izzie, Eric 2005". What an incredibly talented, nice and gentle man.
Cream rule. No competition.