The Real One (Rothman RM09/10)
Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI – October 15th, 1967
Disc 1 (67:38): Tales Of Brave Ulysses, N.S.U., Sitting On Top Of The World, Sweet Wine, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Spoonful
Disc 2 (46:48): Steppin’ Out, Traintime, Toad, I’m So Glad
The October 15th, 1967 Cream soundboard recording is one of the more remarkable documents around. This is close to being a professionally recorded show from a tape very close to the master. It was taped off the PA mixer with a four mic set up: Jack’s Vocals, center stage, Ginger’s announcement, and Eric’s vocals. The mix was pa into left channel and a standalone mike on the guitar on the right. Eric’s mike was away from the drums so plenty of guitar. Quality was high as a mains powered quality recorder at 7.5 ips was used, the recorder had the OK from Russ Gibbs and Cream. During “Spoonful” the tape was slowed down to 3.75 ips as the taper realised they were going to play on. The new copy has a quite smooth transition unlike other copies – a nice tidy up which shows the advantage of access to the master.
There was some discussion about the proper date of the tape, but it has been reliably determined to be from the October 15th show and contains the complete set with a tape change between “Rollin'” and “Spoonful.” One of the earliest releases on silver was Creamset (Gold Standard) which has the complete show but from a high generation tape with a whine on the second disc. Dazed & Cream (Bell Bottom BB019/020) and Real Cream (Gold Standard RC 01) are an improvement in sound quality but both are missing “I’m So Glad.” Other editions include Grande Ballroom (Cream Remasters CRM001/002), Sun Vanishes Birth Of The Six String God (Mid Valley 031/032), and Blues Addict (Tarantura TCD Cream-2-1, 2) part of the Cream U.S.A. boxset. Rothman is extremely clear and very enjoyable which isn’t as loud as the Empress Valley.
– An excellent analysis of the show by Blue Mountain –
Cream performed here for three nights from Friday Oct-13 to Sunday Oct-15. It was close to the end of their first US tour, which had commenced on Aug-20. This tour, while frustrating in some ways for them (especially sound systems and low pay), had established them in the U.S. and was at the core of their golden period.
Detroit would have been a good town for the three of them with plenty of black music (Jazz, Blues, R&B and Soul) to listen to after hours. And they would have had plenty of after hours as these concerts started at 6.30pm on Friday and Saturday and finished no later than 10pm and on Sunday 6-9 pm (an all ages show). I believe this would have contributed greatly to the quality of their performances (plus a good sound system!).
The supporting bands on Friday and Saturday were the Rationals and MC5 (basically the house bands at this time). Sunday the support band was the Apostles. One can assume that Cream was largely an unknown quantity to Detroit’s nascent Rock audience and MC5 were already becoming a local legend. Cream had nothing to loose, especially on Sunday when they had plenty of time to really lay out. And by then the word had got around and the audience was really responding.
– Track by Track –
(Times are approximate)
Tales of Brave Ulysses: Much more attack/feedback with the wah-wah. They power it for barely 4 minutes as the warm up. Jack continues humming the melody over the guitar break and he signals the changes.
Tuning up, Ginger “NSU?”, E.C. – “NSU”
NSU (16min worth!): Eric stuffs up the opening (still out of tune?) but fakes it out by playing off-key). They launch into the jam at an incredible tempo – faster than the new remaster!. Eric does a high volume woman tone/feedback section at reduced tempo with Ginger and Jack just combining superbly behind it. Lovely snare and high-hat work as E & J interact. Tempo gradually increases as they roll to the chorus with Eric doing chords, Hendrix style fills and then a smooth transition into the chorus. Its mainly Eric and Jack locking with Ginger soloing in ensemble while feeding the meter changes – incredible. My jaw hit the floor when on first listening and it continues to every time I listen to it. And it doesn’t seem like 16min!!!
Sitting on Top of the World: Short (4 min) but a dirty slow blues like the Wolf meant it to be. A killer solo from Eric with Jack exhorting him yeh!, yeh! and Ginger’s unique blues style. Guitar turned up flatout!
Sweet Wine (14min): Instrumental starts with Eric Feedback/ Chords, Jack and Ginger inter-playing waiting for Eric to find the groove (he’s actually doing some fine tuning up), then they start rolling. Like the March version it involves round robin improvisation with the controlling dynamics rotating between them. Eric uses heavy feedback in one passage including the Tremelo arm then segue into a call/response with Jack, Ginger soloing between them – aaaahhh!, then Ginger joins in, group interplay then Jack and Ginger with Eric using feedback over them. Then into chords, snare drum responses then Eric chording like an ending mode with J & G responding, a pause for a beat with applause occurring, feedback and then back into the jam. A rough transition into the vocals – they’d gone too far out!
Rollin’ & Tumblin’ (7min): Slightly Faster tempo than the official release. Fine harp from Jack with less over-blowing. Ginger overruns the stop – catching each other out. Great variations from Eric and lovely brush work, bass drum and high hat from G.
Spoonful (21min): Howlin’ Wolf style vocals from Jack, Eric starts the jam with chicka chicka (sorry don’t know the technical term) effect. Different dynamic to Wheels but related chord progressions/licks. They start hitting a groove, then almost free form then more chicka chicka, slower tempo and then they take off with J & G locking. Meter is continuously being broken up – every time Eric settles into an even meter J &/or G break it. E & J call and response in an extended transition into the vocals, Ginger driving them, particularly with the cymbals, to a series of climaxes. Then riffing, including the Cats Squirrel riff (interrupted by a tape speed change which only causes a slight discontinuity) and “I’m going down, down, down”. Another climax, then a gentle phase into the vocals. Jack at full shout, great riff variations and G anchoring it to reality then an ending of tapping drumsticks and tapping of bass against the guitar riff, final vocal line, a reprise of the Cat’s Squirrel riff, then the final chord.
[the new tape reel is noisier – 3 3/4ips instead of 7 1/2 ips?]
Eric: “We haven’t finished yet” (calls of I Feel Free from audience).
Steppin Out: Standard start including some mistakes from Eric as he changes tone settings. During the solo he uses a lot more feedback effects and variations in volume, tone and rhythm. Includes Cat’s Squirrel riff (a clear continuity link to Spoonful). Finishes with feedback, chords and sudden end for a total 11 min. The brushes, foot high-hat and bass drum are superb with Ginger calling Eric on with repeated yeah’s. Much stronger and more inventive than March – segues into:
Traintime (7 min): A more controlled version, closer to the Bond days, with much better harp and tighter vocals due to less histrionics. The train rhythm brushes and bass drum are great. They’ve been doing this for years and segues into:
Toad (15min): Ec and J do a feedback break (as the solo starts, Jack calls out “Eric” and you can hear them having a conversation in the background). Ginger just builds and flows – very African! Really telling a story without the provado performance. Does “happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to you’ on the toms as he builds to the trademark massive climax – huge applause. Probably his best solo that I’ve heard (recorded that is).
I’m So Glad (9 min): Standard opening and then they let it rip. What is it about this song? They just play at an incredible tempo and group creativity, lots of feedback from Eric including variations on the Marseillaise quote. (Some print through still evident on new digital version but not as intrusive)
Dallas Memorial Auditorium Spoonful (21 min): Well they were tired on this tour, especially Ginger (though still capable of a top performance like the Forum!). It’s worth listening to, but separately. Jack and Eric are working but not particularly creatively and Ginger is mainly playing snare with limited tom runs. The ending vocals chorus is the best as it rolls for five minutes with E and J swapping riff variations and G inter-playing with them (cymbals, snare, toms, bass) – that just shows they could still do it when they hit the right groove. Its sprawling, meandering performances like this on the last tour that really damaged their reputation.