Top of the Pops: Fresh Cream

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January 9, 2017 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Fresh cream.jpg

Cream was doomed from the very start.  The biggest problem with the band wasn’t that Jay Bruce and Ginger Baker hated each other more than Noel Gallagher hates Liam Gallagher; it’s that Cream never sounded like a cohesive unified band.  Because all three members of the band were already well known and well respected, most songs on Fresh Cream, their debut album, sound like each member is fighting for superiority, trying to dominate listener’s speakers over their band members.  Fresh Cream doesn’t sound like the sound of one band so much as three solo musicians forced to play the same songs together.

The fact that 40% of the album is cover songs doesn’t lend much credence to the belief that each of the three members is the “cream of the crop” as they so considered themselves.  The two best tracks on the albums are the instrumentals “Cat’s Squirrel” and “Toad”, the latter being a five minute drum solo.  Jack Bruce’s lyrics are simple and pointless and the music is unoriginal, rendering the songs themselves completely boring.  This is made evident as side 2 (which contains all the covers) is superior to side 1 which features all the original compositions.

The biggest problem on Fresh Cream is that Cream can’t decide if they want to be a blues band, or a typical 60s British rock band.  Songs like “I Feel Free”, “Sleepy Time”, and “N.S.U.” are all unoriginal psychedelic brit-rock numbers, while three of the four covers are of American blues songs.  Given the strength of “Cat’s Squirrel”, Cream probably would have made a great proto-Zeppelin blues rock band, but instead Fresh Cream makes them out to be an original mess of incongruent parts both in terms of the music and the personalities of the band.  If you want to hear stereotypical mid-60s psychedelic music, Fresh Cream is a good place to start, but don’t expect anything more from the self-proclaimed cream of the crop.

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