GEARS - The Guitar
by Jeffrey Aarons
Drum intro and then those first
two notes of Strange Brew. Those are the first two guitar notes
I ever heard Mr. Clapton play when my older (musician) brother
bought me a Christmas present called Disraeli Gears for Christmas
1967. He said, "you have got to hear these guys called Cream,
the are the musicians' musicians, and only known to the hip
players". I already had a copy of the 'Are You Experienced'
album by Hendrix so I wasn't sure what to expect from this band.
My brother went on to say "this guy Clapton used to be with
the Yardbirds and I got another record of his where he plays
really great, fast blues solos with a band called the Bluesbreakers.
I'll also lend you their first record Fresh Cream, but want
you to listen to this album first. Clapton is the coolest guitarist
out now and only know to a few of us". Obviously my brother
was trying as usual to impress me but that's how he was in the
hip late 60's.
I am a guitarist and Eric, obviously,
had a huge influence on me. I also know that bass players
and drummers were as equally influenced by Jack and Ginger.
It is a truelly "Classic Album".
This number (never released
for the official Gears LP) was the precursor and model for Strange
Brew. Version I (or the first one reviewed) is from the Live
Cream LP. The backing track is identical in structure and chord
secuence, and in fact the bass & drums on Strange Brew is
the same track. The main difference besides the alternate vocal
and lyrics, is Claptons overdubbed Les Paul inter verse riffs
and main solo. On this cut, Eric is back to his more common
treble position toggle setting, producing a more searing tonality
for his blues riffs, however, this particular tone is thinner
and more trebly than his Fresh Cream or post Gears sound. It
sounds like he is either using a lower volume setting on his
Marshall with treble up or he is using a Fender Twin Reverb
which can produce that exact sound when combined with either
a Les Paul, SG, or ES-335 etc.. (compare tone to his over dubbed
lead on Badge).
The filler riffs are standard
fair, in the key of A with some occasional mild speed and a
few nice vibratos but on whole nothing exceptional. The solo,
is a weird departure form the typical Claptonescue powerful
architecture and is instead an amalgam of Albert King and maybe
even a little touch of Freddie King. The over all effect
is adequate but not up to Clapton's best standards with most
of the notes being arranged around the 8th and tenth frets.
The closing riffs feature a little more aggression and speed
but does not save the overall piece from the cutting room floor
of great solos.
Mama I (aka Ooh Lawdy Mama)
This version from Clapton's
Boxed set Crossroads is a whole different animal and corresponds
to the version that was a regular feature during Creams late
66 early 67 live sets.
Again Clapton handles the lead
vocal but the beat and backing guitar are much more energetic,
almost a shuffle and powerful. The overdubbed riffs and solo
(which scream LES PAUL in all it's glory) sound much more characteristic
of early Cream Clapton revealing a transition style in-between
Fresh Cream and Disraeli Gears. His style is fluid, aggressive,
sweet and still retains the subtle odor of Bluesbreakers. Eric
employs heavy stretch and straight vibratos. His picking is
very pressurized especially during the solo where he cranks
out a compact, beautiful patented Clapton Blues guitar vocal,
featuring alternating sweet and harsh percussive picking pressures
along with beautiful spacing that leaves a lot of critical air
around his notes. His tone is thick and sounds like the Marshall
is cranked way up with treble or mid toggle switch in use.
© Don Paulsen (& above) from his Rockspeak interview CD
Brew features the new more "slick" studio sound for Cream. Here
Eric has switched to his famous psychedelic SG (Les Paul) for
solos and overdubs and features it for the first time on a Cream
Album. To my ears, based on 33 years of playing guitar (taking
into account the possibility of studio effects and post production
that can alter the basic tonal fingerprint of a specific guitar)
I hear the elasticity and tonal nuances of the SG and in this
case using the "woman tone" that Clapton features prominently
throughout Disraelie Gears.
Brew as in most of the cuts, most likely has Eric laying down
his rhythm track on the Les Paul Black Beauty (excluding the
Lawdy Mama outtakes that feature the Les Paul on solo) and overdubbing
the SG for the filler riffs and solo. This tune is in the key
of A and is a re-worked version of Lawdy Mama with Clapton again
taking the lead vocal except this time it's double tracked.
His riffs are typical Clapton as far as huge second string bends
at the 10th fret or first finger bends at either the first string
eighth fret or second string 11th fret. Except for a slight
nod to BB and Freddie, this solo is typical Clapton with the
exception that Eric is much more restrained and lyrical than
he is on either Fresh Cream or the Bluesbreakers.
includes a lot of little bluesy riffs that reveal a lot of very
delicate picking pressure variations. He is obviously in his
experimental stage, being influenced by Hendrix, and a host
of illicit hallucinogens, he is absorbing the cultural stimuli
of the time and is reflecting it in his riffs and solos. Brew
features a tasty short solo and after halting, picks up again
with a cue featuring a wonderful drum take by Ginger, then after
a few bars, Clapton handles the closing riff alone then lets
the backing track seamlessly slide into the closing A 7 Ninth
chord along with the rest of the band.
of Your Love
tune was probably the first Clapton tune I figured out on the
guitar at age 15, or at least the main them riff. Unlike the
Electric factory version where Eric blasted out the first notes
that included a fifth (down) interval moving chromatically downward
in harmony with the pedal tone D note, he starts out with the
plain forever famous, DD C D A Ab G D F D. In the key
of D, Eric does the backing track most likely (but not definitely)
on the Black Beauty Les Paul and continues to power the them
in unison with Bruce while Ginger cranks out a powerful drum
sequence that offsets the expected beat.
uses a combination of straight bar chords, power (fifth root
pos.) chords and open an A chord during the verses. Clapton
alternates with Jack on lead vocals plus provides excellent
harmonies during the refrain. The solo comes after the second
refrain and here, Eric plays one of his most famous studio solos
featuring his SG in full blown Woman Tone utilizing a more melodic
nod to the verses while embellishing the solo with lush stretch
and straight vibratos. Their is some controversy about the amplification
that Eric used but until definitive evidence turns up , it sounds
like most solos are probably through his Marshall with the exception
of possibly Outside Woman Blues, Dance the Night Away, Lawdy
Mama outake, Take it Back, and World of Pain, but this speculative
and not definitive. Specific guitar characteristics are in general,
much easier to detect than an particular amp. The audible
evidence of post recording, or during recording, sonic manipulation
is not prominent and the speed of the recording session most
likely precludes it to any significant degree. We are
almost definitely hearing the sound of Eric, his guitar
and the amp as he created it.
Sunshine solo as well as other Gears solos, employs a Woman
Tone that to my ear has a peculiar tonal nuance and flavor that
he never duplicated live. This also creates the suspicion of
whether or not he did some of these solos through a Fender Twin
at full overdrive or close to it. The solo ends up with a smooth
transition into the theme and never has to depend on speed or
flash. His timing is superb and Eric utilizes space and picking
pressure for maximum effect all the while displaying his usual
masterful architecture. Felix Pappalardi's production
This tune features another Clapton
lead vocal. This recording is a slow paced, fairly sedate tune
opening with Erics rhythm guitar chords, slowly and evenly down
stroked on his Les Paul (most likely) with an additional overdub
of softly picked Wah Wah effect chords, probably also on his
black custom. After Jack takes his turn at the vocal he joins
Eric on h armony for the chorus which is the cue for Erics third
backup guitar which is a searing riff including a 6th interval
and a quick slide down on the G string with a heavy straight
vibrato on the D string in minor mode and it is not in Woman
After the second refrain, Eric
launches his dual guitar solo both utilizing heavy woman tone
and featuring a very restrained, lyrical approach that is almost
humorous in its delivery. The two solo guitars are probably
both the SG and the Les Paul, since one sounds slightly heavier
in body. The tune ends with Erics twin guitar solos taking off
with a little more playful approach without any excessive speed
or heavy vibratos. They seem to be a more sedate precursor to
his triple Guitar lead work on Politician. In the first solo
break, Eric does one of his patented second string bends reaching
a note one whole step away, the same type of note bend he pulls
off in the Sunshine solo and of coarse many others.
the Night Away
number represents the only known Cream recording featuring Clapton
on twelve string guitars which are either a Rickenbacker or
Gibson electric twelve. The song begins with one twelve string
picking arpeggio style minor and major forms with a second twelve
coming in immediately after the second set (or first repeat)
of the two chords (on right channel) and overlaying the same
chord forms in a higher register creating a shimmering effect
that is perfect for this tune that evokes fantasy.
two twelve's continue throughout the song providing a lush backing
track then Eric comes in for his single string semi solo breaks
which feature triplet picking attacks on each note as he runs
up and down the fret board, subtly echoing the type of string
and note movement he used on I'm So Glad except without the
heavy vibratos and riffs. The solo breaks sound like it could
be a twelve string but after a close listen I think it is a
6 string (SG), guitar on hi-treble, amp cranked and distant
miked to get room reverb. I also suspect there may have been
both Marshalls & Fender Twin used on this track.
worth commenting about this one - Ginger's monotone wins.
of Brave Ulysses
powerful intro chord which is a D major power chord, sets the
tone for what is to come. This tune features the worlds first
virtuoso guitar performance using a Wah Wah pedal. The composition
begins with the backing track guitar (Les Paul?) smashing out
the same chord secuence, using open D with beautiful open chordal
forms and passing tones that form the wall of sound permeating
throughout the verses. This chord secuence is identical to the
White Room backing guitar chords with the exception of the added
Bb and C in White Room.
Tales, we have two guitars comprising the backing track. One
is on the above mentioned chordal secuence and the other is
overlaying the main theme notes that are minorish with a chromatic
line added. After the opening D chord, but before the
other backing guitars join (chordal secuence and theme riff)
Eric just provides the little chord fragment interplay with
Jack's vocal during the first two verses using the Wah Wah and
of course this repeats twice more during the song. These chord
fragments (based on a D minor form) are the first to use of
the Wah Wah effect on this tune as opposed to the main them
riff overdub..then the entire backing track explodes into the
overdubbed line and from this, Clapton weaves into exciting
inter verse riffs that feature some gorgeous minor modal notes
and some occasional blazing speed.
On the third riff break, Eric
deviates from the first two which are in A and he (with Ginger
and jack) switch to D where he explodes with a red hot, blazing
stream of very fast minor modal riffs that feature nasty picking
and timing challenges. The tonal ambience and dynamics plus
the string pressure (feel) screams SG plus it has identical
sonic effects of other Gears solos that are very likely the
SG, however, since a Wah Wah plus studio effects can create
a tremendous mask, it is possible that the guitar overdubs are
the Les Paul, but I vote SG.
After the last verse, Eric slowly
and transparently begins his climactical close out (or outro)
solo featuring soaring bends, stretch vibratos and speed fading
out and leaving the listener wanting more! A truly great, historical
This tune begins with Erics
rhythm track stroking major forms and settling into a the chordal
background that moves throughout the whole song probably on
his Les Paul custom. After the first chord intro, Eric immediately
overlays his second guitar, using heavy Woman Tone (SG most
likely) and providing the two main theme riffs that follow the
chords and bass and in addition, includes the interverse riffs
that sprinkle throughout. The secondary theme riff is after
lyrics like "coming to me in the morning..." etc. almost creating
the effect of a second overdubbed guitar in harmony due to it's
extremely heavy, fat tone.
After the verse "you've got
that pure feel.." etc., Eric throws more playful major pentatonic
type modal riffs with strong stretch vibratos around the vocals
that have an even stranger effect due to the very heavy Woman
Tone utilized. After another gorgeous modal riff that starts
in major and drifts into minor mode (last two notes) the solo
starts. The solo consists of two guitars, one is the main overdub
SG in heavy woman tone and the other is either the Les Paul
Custom or SG, in unison but using a leaner tone (edging more
toward his normal blues treble or mid toggle setting) similar
to the Outside Woman Blues tone utilized on the rhythm track
and solo. The solo is melodic, subtly playing off the main vocal
then drifting in and out of major and minor modal forms (ending
in the minor bluesy mode).
We're Going Wrong
The is a duet between Jack and
Ginger with Eric overlaying atmospheric notes and riffs of little
technical interest except for the high register minor modal
riffs, toward the end, that feature heavy stretch vibratos.
I agree with Graeme, its the drums!
This tune is a neat short Blues
tune in the key of E. Here Eric begins the tune with a tasty
and funky chord secuence (probably the Paul) that starts with
an open E then E raised ninth chord, the same chord that begins
I Feel Free and is used in and at the end of a large number
of Cream tunes. The chord sequence (backing track) drive the
whole song with Eric coming in with an overdubbed lead filling
in between the verses.
Clapton sings the tune and has
a nice almost humorous delivery. When he begins the solo, it
represents his ability to pull off a short, but compactly profound
piece without depending on pyrotechnics or tricks. On this solo,
Clapton is again apparently using his SG (note the slight difference
in sustain as he bends the high notes on this solo) and changes
his tone from the Woman Tone in favor of the more characteristic
treble toggle setting although still using a strange tonal ambience
that makes me think Fender Twin Reverb.
Eric's solo is sweet and extremely
effective with all of the notes clustered between the 12th and
17th fret but most between the 12th and 15th fret. The tune
ends with Eric adding an additional guitar lead in harmony with
the other (precursor to Allman Brothers) and after the closing
chord, Eric fades out with a vocal line that makes you feel
Eric is a happy camper at this point.
it Back & Mother's Lament
worth commenting upon and no guitar at all, respectively.
© Robert Whitaker
© 2001 by Jeffrey Aarons
The New Album
Cream encerra revival em meio a críticas elogiosas
nos Estados Unidos
Por Richard Satran
- Nova York (Reuters) - Depois de lotar shows com muita nostalgia
e blues-rock, Eric Clapton e sua banda pioneira Cream vão
se separar mais uma vez, anunciaram empresários na quinta-feira.
Os shows de Nova
York e Londres foram os últimos da agenda do grupo que
se separou pela primeira vez em 1968. O Cream foi responsável
por transformar canções de blues obscuras em grandes
sucessos e alçar o nome do guitarrista Clapton para o
status de lenda do rock-n-roll.
não tem planos para o futuro", disse a agente Kristen
Foster, da KFPR.
norte-americanos zombaram do trio envelhecido depois da última
apresentação em Nova York na noite de quarta-feira.
Um deles definiu o estilo deles como rock excêntrico.
Mas o concerto do Madison Square Garden obteve em geral críticas
A banda "mergulhou
na fonte musical da juventude para uma jam de blues-rock que
empolgou a casa lotada", disse o New York Post.
"O som impetuoso
e forte não é velho, mesmo que Clapton, o mais
jovem dos três, tenha completado 60 anos este ano",
opinou o Washington Post, acrescentando que o show foi "mais
que apenas uma viagem nostálgica."
Alguns se preocupavam
de que a idade e os problemas de saúde dos três
músicos -- Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker e Clapton -- transformariam
o show num revival psicodélico. Tom Guerra, da revista
Modern Guitar, disse: "Esses temores foram colocados de
lado assim que o Cream subiu no palco."
com "I'm so Glad", escrita em 1931 pelo bluesman Skip
James, o Cream condensou seus maiores sucessos num show de quase
duas horas, misturando canções de sua própria
autoria --como "Sunshine of Your Love", "Badge"
e "White Room"-- e clássicos do blues atualizados
por eles nos anos 1960 como "Crossroads" e "Rollin'
O grupo surpreendeu
o mundo do rock ao anunciar uma série de shows em Londres
e Nova York este ano. Os ingressos esgotaram-se quase imediatamente
e alguns eram vendidos por até 4 mil dólares.
Os sete concertos
-- os três desta semana no Madison Square Garden e quarto
no Royal Albert Hall de Londres em maio -- poderão render
100 milhões de dólares em ingressos, vendas de
discos, vídeos e produtos relacionados, calcularam especialistas
mais recente volta do Cream!
3 Mai./2005 (AFP) - Cream, o grupo britânico de rock dos
anos 60 integrado pelo guitarrista Eric Clapton, retornou à
cena na noite desta segunda-feira, em Londres, 37 anos após
seu show de despedida.
Eric Clapton, hoje com 60 anos,
o cantor e baixista Jack Bruce e o baterista Ginger Baker realizaram
o primeiro dos quatro concertos da ressurreição
do Cream no Royal Albert Hall.
ingressos para o show de hoje se esgotaram em minutos e os bilhetes
para os próximos concertos estão sendo vendidos
no site eBay por mais de 800 libras (1.500 dólares) o
sua meteórica carreira, o Cream só gravou três
albuns em estúdio, antes do grupo se dissolver no álcool
e nas drogas nos clichês e nos conflitos.
fusão do rock e do blues de Clapton com o jazz de Bruce
e Baker fizeram do Cream uma formação especial,
com grande influência sobre outros grupos.
Clapton decidiu dar uma "carona" aos ex-parceiros,
que têm problemas de saúde. Bruce, 61 anos, fez
um transplante de fígado, e Baker, 65, sofre de artrite.
show de segunda durou cerca de duas horas e o Cream relembrou
sucessos como Crossroads, White Room e Sunshine
of Your Love.