Back Bay Theatre


April 5th, 1968.

By this stage of the US tour, Baker and Clapton had had enough except that Ginger loved the ever-increasing performance fees. A week later they would return to England for an enforced break. During this period Robert Stigwood convinced Eric to keep on going.

Despite the circumstances, they were still professional musicians of the highest order. Improvisation involves a high risk factor – at its best it is an incredible experience for the creators and listeners. When below best it can just be interesting. When it isn’t happening, well, it’s a disaster for all concerned. That’s why pop/rock performances these days are well rehearsed and scripted (overwhelmingly!) – its safe guaranteeing an homogenised concert experience.

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This night Cream exploded and Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton really turned it on.

This is one of their great performances starting with a 16 minute warm-up on "Sunshine of Your Love". Clapton’s solo is good, very good but gives no indication of the jam. The ending jam starts in a familiar way, moves along, one expects an end soon but things change gear – the notes start pouring out of Eric. Its just one of those frenetic group improvisations where they feed each other at an incredible tempo and, really I have to repeat my self, a rare occurrence even in Jazz.

"Spoonful" – Ginger is incredible playing between two soloing guitarists. Clapton is noticeably louder than on Sunshine.

"Sleepy Time Time" – another great, slightly up tempo, rendition with Jack in top vocal form even after all the hard touring – a great voice (overloading the mike)! Clapton really turns it up on the lead break and does some interesting variations.

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"Stepping Out" – this sounds like it really could have stretched out to one of the legendary 20 min+ performances – except for a broken string. Clapton is at maximum volume and throws the full bag at ’em and it really is a duet – magnificent.

"Traintime" – well I gotta say it, this is warn out and not growing.

"Toad" – If you don’t like drum solos, don’t bother. If you do then this is "Toad" in transition – the Ginger man is building something and that will eventually be the "Do What You Like" solo. It is an evolutionary work - a long one and a great one.

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Sound quality and balance is very good if you get a good copy – there are many diabolical ones around and the most common CD bootleg is only reasonable.

This is one of those performances to savor

More Great Jim Marshall photos!!! (from March '68)

Graeme Pattingale 1999