Fresh Cream

Cream

Fresh Cream

Cream’s debut album finds the legendary trio outgrowing its roots as young British blues hounds and formulating the sound that would make the band famous. While Cream turns in exceptional covers of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful” and Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” “I’m So Glad” was the clearest harbinger of the trio’s imaginative capabilities. Cream transforms Skip James’s haunting 1931 recording into a roiling cauldron of tension and release. Even at this early stage, the band prided itself on democratic songwriting, and while Eric Clapton oversaw its blues interpretations, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker brought their own personalities to the group. Bruce’s “Dreaming” is an outstanding piece of whimsical psychedelia, while “Toad” closes the album with a decisive reminder that Baker’s primal drumming was the band’s undying motor. All of Cream’s disparate components gelled on “I Feel Free,” the song where all the psychedelic era’s strands — blues, LSD, instrumental virtuosity — converge.

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