On the 15th March 1967, Cream went to Spot Productions in Mayfair to record some demos for their next album. Atlantic Records were interested in signing them and there was an expectation that they would have the opportunity to record in New York in early April. Jack had a bag of original material which he pulled out and they went to work. Unbeknown to Jack, Ahmet Ertugen was expecting Eric Clapton's blues trio.
Opens with Eric working on the intro with Jack. Then they launch into an instrumental rehearsal with Eric playing a fine solo. Before they begin to record again Eric says that "it sounds like it needs some shouting in the background like Everyone Must Get Stoned". The completed demo includes Jack, Eric and Pete Brown adding some shouts and screams etc. Ginger drives it along wonderfully - just needs the polish of the Atlantic studios.
The Clearout (Bruce)
Gingers drums open it magnificently and then a breakdown. They restart with Jack improvising a vocal melody over the top with nonsense lyrics. This was released on Those Were The Days minus the vocals and with very heavy equalisation.
Weird of Hermiston (Bruce/Brown)
Opens with them working out the complex beat structure. Eric follows Ginger closely while Jack plays contrapuntally and emphasises the melody on lead bass. A wonderfully instrumental rehearsal. They spend some time retuning and working on the fundamentals then create the Demo. Jack's voice is steadily getting hoarser - both Jack and Eric sound like they have colds.
We're Going Wrong (Bruce/Brown)
Eric teases with the Hey Joe guitar intro before practicing the chord progressions with Jack. They then achieve a quite strong demo that was to be finalised at Atlantic Studios when Ginger settled on his tom-tom pattern that drives it along. Eric pulls off a fine solo.
Blue Condition (Baker)
They begin working it up with Jack playing harmonica. When they move to the demo take, Ginger hums the melody. Jack plays bass and harmonica (using the neck frame) All it needs is the lyrics and piano to replace the harmonica.
Hey Now Princess (Bruce/Brown)
They do a frantic instrumental work up which breaks down, another false start then a completed demo. Jack must have built this song against one of Baker's drum exercises.
Opens with extensive tuning up from Eric against Jack's bass. Then into an instrumental work up which breaks down as Eric slides out of tune. Eric spends a lot of time retuning then into another work up which also breaks down. This is followed by a full instrumental rehearsal, including a slashing solo from Eric and very loud drums. More tuning up then into the demo version with vocals and Jack on neck harp.
© Robert Whitaker, 1967
The above review is based on a digital copy of the available complete session recordings. They were clearly rehearsing and then recording. The tape was left running once they moved into takes - one tape per song seems about right. It was a quick mix - 4 into 2 with the vocals on one track (to redub if required). This allowed for the deletion of the improvised vocals on Clearout for the TWTD release. Also this unofficial tape is not in recorded order nor is TWTD.
Listening to the in between studio chatter finds all three in good humour and strong agreement with even Ginger agreeing with Jack. Also Eric is trying out a new guitar. The detail on this tape confirms that Eric is experimenting with the SG including some more examples of use of the tremolo arm.
The sound of this copy is superior to the TWTD releases, which have been heavily equalised to achieve a more 'professional' sound. It is at the loss of tonal subtlety on the guitar, dynamic compression of the drums and a 'cleaner' sound on the bass. Rumble and hiss are present but it was heavily reduced on TWTD to the detriment of the real sound. One has to question the approach of the engineers in these official remaster releases - too rushed and too modern.
© Graeme Pattingale, 2001The Gears Sessions