Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cream Reunited

I was ambivalent about watching this 90 minute reunion show last nite on PBS. After all, how good could 3 old farts be? Mighty good! Ginger Baker at 66 can still lay it DOWN on drums. Jack Bruce at 62 still sings like a young man. And Eric Clapton, also 62, showed off some new tricks in solos on the classic Cream tunes I used to know by heart. But the thing that really struck me overall was the wall of sound these 3 guys can produce. I can't think of any groups except Hendrix that could do so much with 3 instruments, jazz excepted.

I saw Cream in Ann Arbor in 1968 (I think). I was listening to the UM student station about midnite when the DJ mentioned casually that there would be an interesting impromptu promotional set in the Student Union Ballroom about 2AM. Well, of course, that's all it took to picque my interest and I trundled over there, and, of course, it was mobbed. I did manage to get into the ballroom itself and sure enough, the gear was all set up waiting for some nameless band. In comes 3 guys, and someone realized it was Cream, who I'd heard of but had never heard, let alone live. So they did this 45 minute devastating set that should have peeled the plaster off the ballroom, and that was my introduction to cream. Absolutely amazing, and I was absolutely nerve deaf for 2 days after. I remember walking out of the union into heavy snow that had fallen, and at first I thought that's why it was so quiet outside.

I must say it's hard to see these guys age -- but you could close your eyes and it was still all there.