Universal and Polydor have announced the December 4 release of a new Cream box set comprising vinyl replicas of the supergroup’s classic singles. Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker’s band forming in London, Cream: The Singles 1967-1970 gathers all 10 UK and US seven-inch singles, which were previously deleted and unavailable. The deluxe set features original mono recordings, all-new sleeve artwork and track-by-track analysis by music writer Daryl Easlea.
Polydor says: “[Cream] set the template for not only the ‘supergroup’ but also the ‘power trio’ with their innate musical virtuosity. They blazed an indelible trail through the latter half of the 1960s with their challenging and exquisite melange of blues, pop and psychedelia. The tracks offer a window to the wilder, widescreen adventures of the group’s LPs.”
The 10 singles cover many of Cream’s most iconic moments, and some of their best-loved curios. First out of the blocks chronologically is 1966’s Wrapping Paper, a cut that scraped to No.34 in the UK chart. “That was Jack,” Clapton told Uncut. “When I heard the song, I said, ‘What is that?’ And Jack said it was a great way to start a power trio, by giving people something they really didn’t like or expect or want. I loved the idea of that. I thought, ‘Yeah, that makes sense to me.’”
Cream set the template for the power trio
From 1967, a highlight of the set is Strange Brew. Recorded at New York’s Atlantic Studios, it marked Cream’s mainstream breakthrough with its UK No.17 placing. The following year, signature tune Sunshine Of Your Love was their first US hit, eventually reaching No.5. The band followed it up with Anyone For Tennis, the theme for the film The Savage Seven. However, it was a commercial misfire that only got to No.40 in the UK.
The box set bows out with 1970’s post-split release Lawdy Mama, a version of the Piedmont blues song first recorded by Buddy Moss in 1934. Look out for a full review in a future issue of The Blues.