“Classic Artists” by Cream

Artist: Cream
Title: “Classic Artists”
Label: VH1 Classics
Release Date: 11/21/2006
Genre: Blues Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

It is almost hard to believe that one of the most iconic bands in modern music history only did their thing for two years but such was the case when it came to The Cream. Formed in 1966 and disbanded in 1968, this legendary Blues Rock band featured the talents of Eric Clapton (guitar), Jack Bruce (bass, vocals) and Ginger Baker (drums). Together they defined the way that generations would appreciate and deliver Rock music and would be hailed as one of the first-ever Rock Super Groups as each of the members were well respected in a number of musical circles of the time. Eric Clapton, formerly of The Yardbirds, was the most known of the three and the idea of such players joining forces together was simply unheard of. Today the term is used far too often and the musical output less than memorable on most counts. This DVD is loaded with some great facts about the bands formation and what led to it with the details coming to life via numerous reflective interviews with the band members themselves as well as respected journalists David Fricke (Rolling Stone) and Chris Welch (Melody Maker). Welch’s contributions are most notable for he is also the author of the bands biography “Strange Brew”. The viewer hears from Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, Jim Marshall (yes from the amps) and many, many more and this all makes it a thoroughly interesting documentary to sit through. Most of the band interview footage is recent and that is fun to observe as they recollect their unique history some forty years later about their beginnings, their breakup and the pending 2005 reunion tour that was set to occur when the DVD was being filmed. It was great to see how candid they spoke of the times in the past and how they felt of things that happened later in life. Each member is interviewed separately so you tend to get a fresh perspective on each inquiry that way.

Interlaced across the film are a number of live clips and other archive footage and this is the one spot where I grew most disappointed with the release. The clips don’t show the full songs and remain mere teasers and nothing more. We do get four full-songs with “Revolution Club”, NSU”, “I Feel Free” and “Strange Brew” but that is it – no “Crossroads”, “SWLABR” or “White Room” which are songs that I think every musician knows and has played at least once in their life. In addition to these extras, we are able to enjoy some twenty extra interview segments and much of the commentary is not seen in the completed film but is still very relevant to the release. I would have liked to see it remain as one contiguous piece but there are others who would feel that so much talk would be boring. The advantages available to us on DVD should have allowed for a little more to be delivered. I imagine that the lack of substantial footage comes at the reasoning of other DVD’s being on the shelves already and giving you just that. There is a “Classic Albums: Disraeli Gears” DVD as well as a “Cream Reunion” DVD which was released mid-2006 as well. Music fans and Rock Historians alike will enjoy this release and while I had minor reservations about full songs I still found the whole piece very interesting and can safely recommend it to fans or those that merely know of their songs.

Bonus Audio CD: The DVD includes a bonus recording from a radio program in Sweden circa 1967 that features “NSU”, “Steppin’ Out”, “Traintime”, “Toad” and “I’m So Glad”. The recording on this CD is very clear and offers a great chance to enjoy the band in their heyday via a medium that was still vibrant and supporting Rock and Roll. These songs were never released before and you get a kicking drum solo from Ginger Baker during “Toad” that I think a lot of people will enjoy.

Chapter Listing:
1. Opening
2. Eric (Pre-Cream)
3. Ginger & Jack
4. The Formation Of Cream
5. Fresh Cream
6. The Writing Process
7. Conquering America
8. Atlantic Studies
9. The 2nd US Tour
10. The Beginning Of The End
11. Farewell
12. Cream’s Legacy
13. The Reunion
14. Madison Square Garden

Official Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream_%28band%29

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