For the 20th instalment of my BOOTLEG SERIES I return to one of my favourite bands of all time, Cream, a band who have been the focus of four previous instalments in this series. This show at New Haven Arena in New Havan, CT from the 11th October 1968 is one of the farewell shows the band played on their last tour of the United States and unlike many recordings from this tour, the band appear to be just getting through the show. That said there are countless great moments on each song and they’re enjoyable to listen to.
50 years ago today (9th December 1966), Cream released their debut album Fresh Cream. It may not be their most accomplished album but in my eyes it’s still a landmark album that defined a new era of blues music. Unlike their later albums, Fresh Cream doesn’t include any songs that would define a generation but what we have is a superb blues record, blended with aspects of rock which equals one of the best albums form the mid-60’s.
For a new series of articles I pick my top five favourite albums from each decade from the 1960’s onwards. Starting with the 1960’s is exciting because it’s my favourite decade for music and it was going to be tough trying to narrow down my selection to only five albums. After careful consideration I was able to do it with the following five albums making the cut.
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.
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.
When you think about some of the greatest drummers of all time, the name Jim Gordon should automatically be near the top of your list. In 1970 he would play on George Harrison’s debut studio album All Things Must Pass as part of the main backing band, Derek and the Dominos. There were a number of other guest musicians on the album (including Ringo and Ginger Baker) but the Dominos were the main musicians. This track, What Is Life, is the fifth track on All Things Must Pass and contains some gorgeous drumming from Jim Gordon. Take a listen:
After the end of Derek and the Dominos in 1971, Jim Gordon would go on to work with a long list of big name artists throughout the 1970’s including John Lennon, Traffic, Frank Zappa, Jack Bruce and Joan Baez to name just a few. There was no doubting his ability as a drummer and a musician. However there were a number of underlying issues, most notably undiagnosed schizophrenia, which in 1983 led him to murder his own mother due to the voices he had been hearing in his head for many years.
In the book I am writing on Derek and the Dominos, Jim Gordon will naturally be covered heavily, from the Blind Faith tour where he played with Delaney & Bonnie, the formation of Derek and the Dominos, the All Things Must Pass sessions, the Layla sessions, Dominos UK and US tours and the Dominos second album sessions. He is without a doubt one of the greatest drummers the world has ever known and hearing him play with all the other instruments stripped away is spectacular.