Cream: Disraeli Gears – [Record 78]
Disraeli Gears is the second album by the English rock band Cream. It was released in November 1967 and went on to reach number 5 on the UK Albums Chart. It was also their American breakthrough, becoming a massive seller there in 1968, reaching number 4 on the American charts. The album was #1 for two weeks on the Australian album chart and was listed as the #1 album of 1968 by Cash Box in the year-end album chart in the U.S.
The album features the two singles “Strange Brew” and “Sunshine of Your Love”.
The title of the album is based on a malapropism. 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. The band thought this was hilarious, and decided that it should be the title of their next album.
The original 11-track album was remastered in 1998, and then subsequently released as a two-disc Deluxe Edition in 2004.
In 1999, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In 2003 the album was ranked number 114 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. VH1 also named it their 87th greatest album of all time in 2001. In 2008, the album won a Classic Rock Roll of Honours Award for Classic Album.
1. Strange Brew.
2. Sunshine of Your Love.
3. World of Pain.
4. Dance the Night Away.
5. Blue Condition.
1. Tales of Brave Ulysses.
3. We’re Going Wrong.
4. Outside Woman Blues.
5. Take It Back.
6. Mother’s Lament.
Original album: The album was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York during May 1967, following the band’s nine shows as part of Murray the K’s “Music in the 5th Dimension” concert series. Cream’s American label, ATCO, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlantic Records.
The sessions were produced by future Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi – who co-wrote the tracks “Strange Brew” and “World of Pain” with wife Gail Collins – and were engineered by Tom Dowd – who would later work with Clapton on projects such as Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and 461 Ocean Boulevard. The owner of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun, was also present during the sessions.
According to Dowd the recording sessions took only three and a half days, a feat considering the length of the album. The band’s visas expired on the very last day of recording.
The original 11-track album was remastered by Joseph M. Palmaccio at PolyGram Studios for a 1998 release, including bonus photographs accompanying the original album artwork.
Disraeli Gears Deluxe Edition: The “Disraeli Gears Deluxe Edition” includes the complete album in both mono and stereo, demos, alternate takes and tracks taken from the band’s live sessions on BBC radio. Included an outtake of “Blue Condition” with Eric Clapton on lead vocals and demos of the songs “Weird of Hermiston” and “The Clearout” which were not released until Jack Bruce’s first solo album “Songs for a Tailor”.
Artwork: The cover art was created by Australian artist Martin Sharp who lived in the same building as Clapton, The Pheasantry in Chelsea. Sharp would go on to create the artwork to Cream’s next album Wheels of Fire and co-wrote the songs “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and The Savage Seven movie theme “Anyone for Tennis” with Eric Clapton. The photography for the album was taken by Bob Whitaker who is known for the photography for several works by The Beatles including the controversial Yesterday and Today.
The front cover consists of a psychedelic collage with the album’s title centred and the band name below, surrounded by a floral arrangement. Martin Sharp was attempting to capture the sound of the music in the cover, which he describes as a “warm florescent sound”
The cover art was also used for the compilation album Those Were the Days.
Song styles: “Disraeli Gears” features the group veering away, quite heavily, from their blues roots and indulging in more psychedelic sounds. The most blues-like tunes on the album are the remake of “Outside Woman Blues”, the Bruce/Brown composition “Take it Back” which had been inspired by the contemporary media images of American students burning their draft cards which featured harmonica work by Jack Bruce, and the opening track “Strange Brew” which was based on a 12-bar blues song called “Lawdy Mama” and featured an Albert King-style guitar solo.