Eric’s return to to the stage in 1974 saw him free from a certain demon for the first time since his Dominos period but a new demon had taken it’s place in the form of alcohol. As a result, there are a number of bootlegs from shows in 1974 that show Eric at his very worst. Unable to sing in key, unable to play like he once did, it’s one of the saddest things to listen to as a Clapton fan. But there were a number of shows where things came together brilliantly and this show at Frost Amphitheatre at Stanford University on the 9th August 1975 is one of them.
Wheels Of Fire is Cream’s third album and features some of the most explosive playing the band ever recorded in the studio. The album, being a double album, also features four live tracks recorded at shows in California in March 1968. Those four tracks really showcase what Cream were all about as a live band, the double album essentially highlighting two very different sides of the band. The structured studio band and the improvising, explosive live band.
It’s the 6th December 1970 and Derek and the Dominos bring their US tour to a close at the Suffolk Community College in Selden, New York. It would be another 8 months before Eric Clapton would take to the stage again for George Harrison’s Concert For Bangladesh event at Madison Square Garden in New York and in that time the Dominos would come falling down, signalling the end of Clapton’s first musical chapter. It would be another year and a half after the Concert For Bangladesh until he played live again, brought out of a drug fuelled isolation by Pete Townshend of The Who. The result, two comeback concerts on the 13th January 1973 at the Rainbow Theatre in London, England.
In October 1968 Cream were pretty much over, apart from the remaining tour dates which would end with two final shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London on the 26th November. But mentally they all knew the musical journey they had embarked on in 1966 was coming to an end. Including this show, they would have 20 dates left until the end of Cream as a band but that didn’t mean the music would suffer. That didn’t mean they couldn’t continue to be a live force right up until the end. Far from it.
Recorded in May 1967 at Atlantic Studios in New York, the Disraeli Gears album sessions only took three and a half days. One of the tracks the band recorded was Sunshine Of Your Love which is now considered not only one of Cream’s finest songs, but one of the best songs of all time and Eric’s solo in the song is widely seen as the finest he ever put to vinyl. Exquisite would be a good would to describe it.
The solo features the famous “woman tone” which Eric made famous during this time and especially on Disraeli Gears, a thick and smooth tone we all know and love. It’s great to hear Eric’s guitar parts stripped away like this. When you listen to the track as a whole it seems very complex but in actual fact the guitar parts are quite simple, yet brilliantly executed.