Live Cream: Volume II

Producer: Felix Pappalardi

Recording Engineers: Bill Halverson, remix by Adrian Barber

Released: UK – 7/72, US – 3/72.

Highest Chart Position: UK – -, US – 135.

This has been criticised as the scrapings from the barrel. To a degree it was squeezing the lemon dry but it does have a couple of gems and improves greatly when glued together with the other live releases to recreate a complete concert or two. My criticisms should always be taken in comparative Cream terms not relative to other bands. Very few bands can equal these recordings, let alone claim superiority.

It consists of three tracks from the final US tour and three from the same sources used for "At the Fillmore" and "Live Cream". As such it represents an inconsistent style as it includes the more pop song approach of the final tour as opposed to the full-on jamming of the early ‘68 touring.

The songs from the final tour are mixed and balanced in the more orthodox fashion, in contrast to those on "Goodbye". Sound quality is good overall with the ’68 recordings having the edge especially on the drums.

Track by Track

Deserted Cities of the Heart (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown)

Eric – lead guitar; Jack – bass, lead vocals; Ginger – drums.

[Recording: 4th October 1968, Oakland Coliseum Arena, California, Bill Halverson eng; Adrian Barber, remix]

A superb song/arrangement on "Wheels of Fire: In the Studio" and it works surprisingly well live. Eric’s guitar is now dominant even if his solo is not as frenetic. Jack’s bass counter-pointing is very fine and Ginger uses his bass drums to good effect even if they are under mixed. Just a minute longer then the studio recording, exemplifying its ‘pop’ orientation. A very strong performance never the less.

(love Jack tuning up at the start and saying "That’ll do" and then launching into the song)

White Room (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown)

Eric – lead guitar; Jack – bass, lead vocals; Ginger – drums.

[Recording: 4th October 1968, Oakland Coliseum Arena, California, Bill Halverson eng; Adrian Barber, remix]
Note: While I originally thought this wasn't the one on "Those Were The Days", it is, though its a very different mix which see for comments.

This classic song from "In the Studio" also works well live and today remains a performance song for both Jack and Eric. It does lose a bit against the studio version because of the under mixing of Ginger’s bass drums, which were so critical in powering the sound of the original. Just over 30 secs longer than the studio version though the potential for jamming is there. The real strength of this version is in the bass line and the way Jack plays around with it in terms of notes and the beat.

Would have sounded comparatively stronger if it had been the opening cut, as it was at the concert.

Politician (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown)

Eric – lead guitar; Jack – bass, lead vocals; Ginger – drums.

[Recording: 4th October 1968, Oakland Coliseum Arena, California, Bill Halverson eng; Adrian Barber, remix]

Based on the set lists from these concerts, alternatives were a bit hard to find that wouldn’t have most likely suffered badly in comparison to previous releases. This is not superior or inferior (except for Ginger’s drumming) to that on "Goodbye" just different without being outstanding. It’s this inclusion that probably rates the "scrapping the barrel" description, but it does show that they never locked a song down.

Tales of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton/Martin Sharp)

Eric – lead guitar; Jack – bass, lead vocals; Ginger – drums.

[Recording: 10th March 1968 (1st show), Winterland, San Francisco, Bill Halverson eng; Adrian Barber, remix]

Another one of their studio classics from "Gears", that was not played around with much, and was often a set opener. It works as it is and only the guitar solo coda is slightly extended. Eric’s use of wah wah is in stark contrast to that of Jimi – cool vs hot.

The ensemble playing is superior to the previous three tracks with that unique interaction at all levels on this fairly pure song performance and even though it was the set opener (a mere warm up?). The better drum sound (and more dynamic playing from Ginger) also helps. Its the best cut on this release.

[Vinyl Side 2]

Sunshine of Your Love (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown/Eric Clapton)

Eric – lead guitar, lead vocals; Jack – bass, lead vocals; Ginger – drums.

[Recording: 9th March 1968 (2nd show), Winterland, San Francisco, Bill Halverson eng; Adrian Barber, remix]

It starts with more emphasis on the backbeat, but some how it doesn’t seem to roar as one would expect. It’s solid with all the strengths of the studio recording but doesn’t seem to lift to that level you’d like from a live performance. The extra length, especially the extended ending jam, doesn’t add much, which just shows how good the original on "Gears" was! The version from the Revolution club on the "Fresh Live Cream" video is superior.

Steppin’ Out (James Bracken) Note: On vinyl release mis-titled "Hideaway" (Freddie King).

Eric – lead guitar; Jack – bass; Ginger – drums.

[Recording: 10th March 1968 (2nd show), Winterland, San Francisco, Bill Halverson eng; Adrian Barber, remix]

A Clapton classic from the Bluesbreaker’s album. A show stopper from those days that, with Cream, has become Eric’s solo show piece.

Eric starts in ensemble and then enters a duet with Ginger playing brushes. This style of performance doesn’t really suit Eric’s sensibilities. Simply he is not a solo performer but that should not be interpreted as denigrating his performance! I just feel it would have been stronger if Jack had participated. Never-the-less it’s pretty strong, if lacking in exciting invention, with the brush playing just great.

It completes the star extravaganza pieces and is thus a very worthwhile addition to the cannon.

Updated 14th Oct 1997
Corrected 22nd Oct

1997 by Graeme Pattingale