This is the twelfth in a series of Rock & Roll features I'm writing for this site. I'm a rock and roller, so this column is a way for me to feature a different album that I like, from different genres, every month.
This month is extra special for all of us fans of classic rock. Not only is Led Zeppelin reuniting in London for a one-time show, but this month is also the 40th anniversary of one of the world's most famous rock and roll albums: Cream's Disraeli Gears. In November of 1967, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker released their second album right into the heart of the psychedelic era. Not only did it really break them through in the American market and forever change rock and roll, but it gave us one of the most recognizable songs of all time.
I'm a huge Cream fan, if you didn't realize that already by the amount I've written about them for the Soul of Rock 'n' Roll. I couldn't let this anniversary go by without paying tribute to this incredible work.
Although primarily known as some of the best work by Clapton, Bruce and Baker, each of whom went their own directions for many years after Cream broke up, this album is not purely the work of those three.
They were indeed a power trio, but without the lyrical contributions of Pete Brown, the stellar production work of Felix Pappalardi and the help of many others, it is doubtful it would have had such an enormous impact. It really is the complete package with every part from the musicianship, writing and production, through to the album art and timing of the release that make this album such a seminal artistic moment in rock and roll history.
Cream was painted something like creative blues revivalists (or something like that) by their first release, but they would truly depart from any notion of blues purity with this album. Mixing in a variety of styles from jazz to psychedelic, all while retaining their blues roots and excellent musicianship, it would solidify them as one of the great rock bands of all time.
This departure is evident on the very first song “Strange Brew.” That is a track with a pretty straightforward blues riff and style, which originally began as another track called “Lawdy Mama.” The riff was lifted from Albert King before new, darker lyrics were written by Pappalardi's wife Gail Collins.