And More...

But we’re still looking at an outfit looking to cement a place in the marketplace, and while you could look at the Pappalardi/Collins World of Pain as a lightweight successor to what had preceded it, for mine it’s a fairly classy piece of understated pop, with Clapton’s multi-tracked wah-wah guitar underlining the argument that amid all the fuss about Cream as thundering bluesmeisters, or some such hyperbole, there was a fairly sophisticated experimental pop outfit lurking under the surface.

That’s equally obvious on the soaring 12-string driven Dance the Night Away, which along with the masterful We’re Going Wrong, is one of the best examples of Cream as quality purveyors of power pop. There’s nothing fancy about Pete Brown’s lyrics, just a clear expression of an intent to dance myself to nothing over an instrumental track that invokes both The Byrds and Middle Eastern Sufi mystics. 

On the other hand it’s difficult to find any redeeming features in the leaden Blue Condition. You could, perhaps, liken Baker’s spot in the limelight as akin to Ringo’s vocal contributions to Beatle albums, but one would gently point out that for most of the time Mr Starr had Lennon and McCartney doing the writing. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that if they’d had more than three and a half days to cut the album or anything else in the way of Baker-penned material Blue Condition would have been consigned to the outtakes basket.

Or maybe it suffers a bit more than it deserves (a possibility I’d be inclined to discount, but there you go) because it comes straight before the sublime Tales of Brave Ulysses, the product of a chance meeting between Clapton and Australian artist Martin Sharp before they ended up as co-residents in The Pheasantry in Chelsea. The way Clapton tells it he was at the Speakeasy with French model Charlotte Martin when they encountered Sharp, recently returned from Ibiza, where he’d written this poem about the Greek hero Ulysses and Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.

Hearing that Clapton was a musician, Sharp wrote his little poem down on a napkin, handed it over, and the rest, as the saying goes, was history.


B© Ian Hughes 2012