Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Cream Primer"
I FEEL FREE
The best song off the debut, "Fresh Cream," which only hipsters were aware of, mostly because of Clapton's history with John Mayall. Credit its minor impact to the production, which was attributed to Robert Stigwood, the tracks just didn't jump out enough, there was mud in the grooves, except for this one, which is so infectious it would be a smash if released today.
Most Americans had no idea it was a car. Very hooky, with the line about only being happy when he played his guitar...no Facebooking for Jack Bruce!
I'M SO GLAD
Sure, check out the original studio takes of "Spoonful" and "Toad" on "Fresh Cream," but they were rendered superfluous by the live iterations on "Wheels Of Fire," however the original "I'm So Glad" stands on its own, it's an interesting curio next to its ultimate smash incarnation on "Goodbye."
SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE
The riff. Which played in bedrooms and on FM radio long before it penetrated AM in the summer of '68. So simple, yet so satisfying. Is there anybody who plays guitar who doesn't know this?
TALES OF BRAVE ULYSSES
My favorite cut on "Disraeli Gears," credit the band's new producer Felix Pappalardi for the darker, more vibrant sound. I remember playing this for my mother and imploring her to like it, ah, the myopia of youth.
It really was all about "Disraeli Gears," which built over the course of a year to be one of the biggest albums extant. The English cover was superior, it was slick to the U.S.'s matte. This was the opening cut, proving once again you should grab people immediately, only the Stones seem to have hung on to this lesson.
WORLD OF PAIN
You'll never hear this on the radio, but it was so satisfying in the bedroom, because of its INTIMACY!
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY
It almost sounded like it came from a Doors album.
You can surf the Internet to find out what the title stands for, in rock's prehistoric, non-connected era, we had no idea.
Ah, the majesty! The feel, the sound, a simple track driven forward by Ginger Baker's drums. A hit, deservedly so.
SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD
The old blues chestnut, evidencing the band's roots. The first disc of "Wheels Of Fire" was cut in the studio, the second live, the double album was an unforeseen victory lap, something that everybody bought and you heard everywhere.
Almost sounds like a West, Bruce and Laing cut. Plodding, but the changes make it a winner.
BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN
Another blues cover, the original was done by Albert King. The truth is most Americans learned about the blues not from their country's progenitors, but the long-haired English boys, who devoured this sound and fed it back to us.
The definitive statement, if you didn't pick up a guitar after seeing the Beatles on "Ed Sullivan," you did now, if you were ever gonna.
Most Americans' first exposure to Robert Johnson, this was long before the two CD set compilation, and it was one of their first exposures to Eric Clapton's voice.
How could he play so fast, how could he get it so right?
Nearly seventeen minutes long, and other than "White Room" and "Crossroads," probably the most played track on "Wheels Of Fire." The soundtrack to drugs.
The other short song on the second, live disc, most notable for Jack Bruce's harmonica work. Totally forgotten today.
You don't have to listen to it, we did, a few times, but "Toad" is most notable for ushering in the era of the drum solo. Before this, there were no fifteen minute interludes where you could leave your seat and go to the bathroom. Alas, Ginger Baker was a great drummer, he did it first, everyone else thereafter was an imitation.
I'M SO GLAD
So, the band is excoriated by the critics, and gets so much notoriety, that it implodes. But announces a farewell tour before this. I went to see the band in a barn in New Haven that no longer exists. I sat six feet from the speakers. I smuggled my Norelco cassette recorder inside. They mixed all the instruments through the PA. That tape still sounds exquisite today.
We had no idea there'd be a resulting album, with studio cuts and live recordings from the Forum, yes, the Los Angeles arena that was just remodeled and reopened.
This live take of "I'm So Glad" renders the original nearly irrelevant, there's Jack's intimate vocal, Eric's incredible playing, this was heard everywhere.
Less plodding than its studio take. You can also listen to "Sitting On Top Of The World." And know that truly everybody owned "Goodbye," even those who'd managed not to purchase the three previous albums.
The apotheosis, the final statement. Sung by Eric Clapton and written by him and George Harrison, this was a harbinger of what was to come, Eric's solo career.
This was the album's obvious killer, but it got no airplay. If you asked someone back then, they'd have no idea this would be the only cut from "Goodbye" that would survive half a century later, the one that's a staple of Clapton's show.
As for the title, it's got to do with guitar...a chord progression, not a physical badge. I wince whenever I hear Clapton sing "Where is my badge?" when he performs it today.
But the reason the track is so incredible is...
Let me just say that Eric performed the legendary solo on the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and George Harrison plucked the strings on "Badge." Credited to L'Angelo Misterioso, we all know who it was, because the sound was so familiar, it was UNDENIABLE!