Kiefer’s Music Mondays: Cream’s ‘Disraeli Gears’

The gospel of the ’60s psych rock reformation.

This isn’t elevator music, folks.

Recorded in May of 1967, a year after their monumental debut, Fresh Cream, U.K. power trio Cream turned the amps up to 11 and completely decimated the rock genre as it stood with their sophomore album, Disraeli Gears.

The world’s first successful supergroup—consisting of former Yardbirds guitar god Eric Clapton, 6-string bass phenomenon Jack Bruce of Manfred Mann fame, and revered Graham Bond Organisation drummer Ginger Baker—together they represented the foremost musicians on their respective instruments. In other words: the cream.

Cream took music places it had never gone before, blending ’60s rock with blues and psychedelia, layered with thunderous power chords and earth-shaking drums.

In 1967 The Beatles had just released Sgt. Pepper. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was about venturing into the extremes of mind-expanding music, but the boys from Cream were on that next level shit, looking to fuck things up. Enter: Disraeli Gears.

Opener “Strange Brew” is a brisk plunge into the deep end, followed immediately by lead single, “Sunshine of Your Love,” a (surely) drug-fueled free fall down the rabbit hole of electric dream rock and hypnotic psych mania. “Take it Back,” a bluesy English spin on newsworthy American draft card burners, and a rendition of “Outside Woman Blues” are relatively grounded in Clapton’s superhuman-blues roots. “Tales of Brave Ulysses” (which apparently Clapton cowrote with neighbor and record sleeve artist Martin Sharp) is a departure from this with its fairly simple chord pattern and early use of a wah-wah pedal. They would use that exact formula to construct the legendary “White Room” on their next album.

Disraeli Gears (a play on derailleur bicycle gears and U.K. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli) absolutely tore the lid off a can labeled “Things you can’t do,” kicking the door in on a new music consciousness, and bringing Cream (and by extension heavy psychedelic rock) to the forefront of American culture.

The triumvirate of Bruce, Clapton and Baker will be champions of contemporary art for as long as the world turns, and Disraeli Gears will be heralded as the gospel of their musical reformation.

This isn’t elevator music, folks.

Listen to: “Sunshine Of Your Love,” “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” “Strange Brew”