Saturday, August 7, 2010

Albums2010 #21: Disraeli Gears

Q: What do you get when you combine a love of blues with what I imagine was probably copious amounts of marijuana?

A: Disraeli Gears! (by Cream)

I have this odd feeling that if I would have listened to this album baked out of my mind that I probably would have loved it- as it was, working for a law enforcement agency has some drawbacks (mainly that I have to be 'good' now, damn puritanical drugs laws!) so I was completely sober and Cream's album, Disraeli Gears was an odd experience to say the least.

First of all, the title of the album actually has nothing to do with 19th Century British PM Benjamin Disraeli- but rather it was a random inside joke between the band. Wikipedia spake thusly:
The title of the album was taken from an inside joke. Eric Clapton had been thinking of buying a racing bicycle and was discussing it with Ginger Baker, when a roadie named Mick Turner commented, "it's got them Disraeli Gears", meaning to say "derailleur gears," but instead alluding to 19th Century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.

I'm sure that had them rolling in the aisles at the time, but it seems very random when viewed in the present day- and point of fact, 'random' is a very good way to describe this album.

The American Breakthrough for Cream, songs like 'Sunshine of Your Love' and 'Strange Brew' will probably be the most familiar to casual fans of Cream, but aside from those two, this is 60s psychedelia personified and it might not be for everyone to listen too. That said, probably the strangest song on this album has to be the third track, 'World Of Pain.' Lyrically, it's pretty dark and strange at the same time, opening with: 'Outside My Window/There is a Tree' Not sure what the tree has to do with anything, but whomever is singing obviously is pitching a major nutty, staring out his window, looking at a tree. It just seemed incredibly odd to me, listening to these repeatedly couplets about a tree. I don't get it. Sorry.

Conversely, probably the best song of this album has to be 'Take It Back,' which is pure fusion rock n'roll blues glory at its best. Inspired by contemporary media images of American students burning their draft cards (spaketh Wikipedia again), its got spicy touches of harmonica throughout and it's a nice slow jam towards the end of the album that steps away from the psychedelic rock feel throughout the album.

Of course, rearing up above all of this is the guitar work of Eric Clapton. Clapton, Clapton, Clapton- well, what more can you say? He's a guitar GOD and he's in fine form throughout the album, keeping the overall tone of the album from being totally crazy and loopy, which is good- because with his guitar work and the psychedelic tone of the album, something truly unique emerges.

Overall: Perhaps not for everyone, but for serious music fans and serious fans of Clapton, it's a must have/listen.

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