Comments on the Equipment
Eric & Jack were not technology freaks. They just looked for the sound they wanted. Because of their reputation they had direct access to Jim Marshall's factory. They, like the Who, were provided with the latest equipment - usually pre-production models. They were also able to get them customised to their own requirements. What that was is really a matter of conjecture but Jack's 967 200 Watt amps are unique.
The upgrade to dual stacks meant a bige increase in volume - it must have been incredible in the small UK venues. But the evidence is that they did drop to single stacks depending on the venue and PA size
Eric has stated that he didn't use dual cabs and that one was just an onstage spare. That is not correct because the '67 Fillmore concerts were notorious for being incredibly loud - they dislodged a lighting rig! Hendrix had appeared there already, but with single stacks and The Who had used Vox's or Fenders, so Cream blasted the place. The bootlegs of that tour shows their more extensive and 'impulsive' use of feedback that needed the dual stacks to achieve the necessary volume levels in the big (relative to Europe) US venues.
The roadies probably decided what was to be 'on' based on the PA's power and or size of venue. The whole sound was totally based around the volume of the instrument's stacks turned up to maximum as there was no master PA for them to be miked through. General evidence is that they almost always used both stacks. They may have been more volume conscious in '68 because they were all suffering hearing damage. On the March '68 live recordings the guitars sound 'turned down' compared to '67 simply cause they were. Jack was turned down and Eric was using only one stack to reduce bleed through on the drum mikes
Special note from Jeff Aarons: at the 19th April 1968 gig at "The Electric Factory" in Philadelphia, Eric used a Fender Dual Showman Head on one of his Marshall stacks. I have also been advised that he used two Dual Showmans at another gig.
In 1966-67 in the UK they were using a Marshall P.A. which was adequate for the size of those venues: 200w Super P.A. amplifier*, 2 (or 4) x 1969 4x12 P.A. Columns. When they toured the US in '67 they used the house P.A.s
PA was as provided at venues as the rock band travelling PA system was still being developed (principally by the Who and the Grateful Dead). Cream, as did Hendrix, suffered mightily from inadequate PA systems (Jack walking away from one venue when he saw the pitiful PA for the vocals!). But the big venues like the Fillmores, Winterland etc had very good ones for their day. Creams dual stacks was considered big for those days but it was comparatively modest compared to what was soon to come.
|Foldback was only starting to be used in 1968. It
usually consisted of a PA box directed onto the stage from each side. On the last tour
Ginger had PA boxes behind him to hear the vocals (see top photo & Live Cream).
Also, on that tour, the drums had basic mikeing through the house PA but only occasionally
during the early '68 tour.
Putting those sound systems in today's perspective: my middle range surround hi-fi has almost 400 watts RMS of power available which would be about that of the PA stack from the Farewell Concerts (right)
Comment: Creams and Hendrixs Marshall stacks stunned America when they arrived, much to the chagrin of Pete Townshend for whom they had been originally created. In March and June 1967, The Who toured America with comparatively tiny Vox and Fender gear as they couldnt afford to bring their Marshall stacks from England. Pete and John were each using double stacks in 1966! When they began touring the States with them in second half of 1967 people thought they were copying Hendrix and Cream. By 1969 the Who had the best touring sound system in the world and it was big!
The Who - August 1966: Dual Stacks but single (8x12) cabs
except for Pete's extra tall right stack
Major Update/Corrections: April/May 2000
© 2000 by Graeme Pattingale