Disraeli Gears is the second album by British blues-rock group Cream. It was released in November 1967 and went on to reach #5 on the UK album chart. It was also their American breakthrough, becoming a massive seller there in 1968, reaching #4 on American charts. The album features the two singles "Strange Brew" and "Sunshine of Your Love". By this time, the group was veering quite heavily away from their blues roots to indulge in more psychedelic sounds.
The title of the album, Disraeli Gears, was actually a bit of an inside joke. Eric Clapton had been thinking of getting a racing bicycle, and was discussing it with Ginger Baker, when Mick Turner, one of the roadies, commented on the performance of "those Disraeli Gears" meaning to say "derailleur gears". The band thought this was hilarious—Benjamin Disraeli was a prominent 19th Century British politician—and decided that it should be the title of their next album. Had it not been for Mick, the album would simply have been entitled Cream.
Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker all contributed songs with the help of lyricist Pete Brown and producer Felix Pappalardi. The track "Blue Condition" was unusual in that Baker, although by any account not a singer, took the lead vocal. The album was recorded in New York by their American label, the Atco division of Atlantic Records during the band's stay in the United States.
The psychedelic cover art was created by Australian artist Martin Sharp, who lived in the same building as Clapton at the time of the Chelsea artists colony The Pheasantry. At their first meeting in a London club, Clapton mentioned that he had some music that needed lyrics, so Sharp wrote out a poem he had composed on a napkin and gave it to Clapton, who recorded it as "Tales of Brave Ulysses".
When interviewed on the episode of the VH1 show, Classic Albums, which featured Disraeli Gears, Bruce stated that when writing the song "Take it Back", he had been inspired by the contemporary media images of American students burning their draft cards and wrote the song in that spirit of rejecting militarism.
In 2004, the album was released as a 2-disc Deluxe edition including the complete album in both mono and stereo, demos, alternate takes and tracks taken from the band's live sessions on BBC radio.
1 Strange Brew (2:50)
2 Sunshine of Your Love (4:13)
3 World of Pain (3:05)
4 Dance the Night Away (3:36)
5 Blue Condition (3:32)
6 Tales of Brave Ulysses (2:49)
7 Swlabr (2:34)
8 We're Going Wrong (3:29)
9 Outside Woman Blues (2:27)
10 Take It Back (3:08)
11 Mother's Lament (1:47)
The threesome of Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, and legendary guitarist Eric Clapton forming the band Cream was a monumental effort of jazz, blues, and psychedelic rock during the British rock period of the late 1960s. Cream, with their raw fury of intense sound, was renowned for their rare talent of taking songs of complex arrangements and making them an act of spontaneous beauty during live shows. Disraeli Gears, their second release, was an essential landmark recording that brought listeners to the direction they were soon to take with Wheels of Fire. Taking on a circus-spinning arsenal of sounds and effects, Cream's fashionable art is a blend of highly sustained drenched distortion, rampant percussion, and a kaleidoscope of various musical textures and colors, both in melody and rhythm. Each of Disraeli Gears' list of 11 tunes is original in format, containing it own unique brands of dashing blues-laden guitar riffs by Clapton, as well as thick bass lines and smashing drum leads. Highlights of the record feature Clapton's awe-inspiring and soul-gripping guitar leads, including hits such as "Sunshine of Your Love" and "Tales of Brave Ulysses." The latter is a magical poem laced into a line of mesmerizing chordal changes. Disraeli Gears is a definitive staple of early British rock and a sensational addition to the avid classic rock listener.
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There is a story about how this album got it's name;
Eric Clapton had been thinking of getting a racing bike. Whilst he was telling his intentions to Ginger Baker, Mick Turner, (who was one of the regular roadies) commented on the performance of "those Disraeli gears", (he meant to say "derailleur gears"). The band thought this was hilarious and decided that it should be the title of their next album. If it wasn't for the Mick Turner's spoonerism, the album would simply have been entitled Cream.