CROSSROADS, Eric Clapton
(Polydor 4CD Box Set)

This retrospective collection of Eric Clapton contains two Cream live recordings from their BBC radio sessions. Those various sessions are the remaining major resource of unreleased Cream material now that the "Those Were The Days" provides the 'lost session'. One hopes that the BBC will release them before the tapes disintegrate from neglect.

Lawdy Mama (trad arr. Eric Clapton)

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

[Recording: 9th December 1966 , BBC Studios, London.]

This version is the 2nd previously unreleased (now on "Those Were The Days") arrangement. This short (1:50) version clearly shows the superiority of that arrangement as discussed in "Live Cream" review. It's a solid performance but hardly dynamic - the requirement of truncated performance for radio really wasn't their style. Eric'c solo is concise and strong with Ginger coming alive behind him.

Steppin' Out (James Bracken)

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

[Recording: 9th January 1968, BBC Studios, London.]

A different approach to the version on Live Cream Vol. 2 being very much shorter with all three taking solo breaks. Concise (3.31) but with much more attack then Lawdy Mama. This is when Cream were at their prime with a repetoire of strong originals and extensively reworked covers that they would perform what ever way they felt on the night. An absolute gem that could have gone on as Eric starts to roar and Jack and Ginger drive him on but remember the clock!

The Alternative Album

It is unclear whether this is a bootleg or just an unofficial release of out-takes and rehearsals that are now out of copyright (in Europe at least). The record companies pressured shops and distributers so I assume the latter. Its not a critical buy, even for serious fans. For the diehards it's interesting. Two tracks are now officially available on "Those Were The Days".

Sound quality is poor especially on White Room which sounds like a review dub rather than a copy of a master. I'm not going to review each track just make some comments.

Lawdy Mama is the superior previously unreleased version now available on "Those Were The Days" as is the Fallstaff Beer commercial. Rollin' and Tumblin' and Cat's Squirrel (minus harmonica and guitar overdub - raw and tasty!) are good enough to be considered alternate takes. The Coffee Song breaks down as Jack and Eric crack up over the ludicrous lyrics/melody. Sweet Wine, Toad, Wrapping Paper and I Feel Free are rehearsals. You Make Me Feel is Jack and Eric working up one of Jack's songs despite Ginger's disinterested drumming.

These tracks come from the Fresh Cream to Gears sessions. Falstaff and White Room are from the July-August 1968 Wheels sessions. White Room is a complete version which had the lead guitar and lead vocals completely redubbed during later sessions. The guitar is non wah wah which thus represents a significantly different version. It can be considered version 1 which would be nice if it was a decently mastered release.

Lawdy Mama
Rollin' and Tumblin'
Sweet Wine
Cat's Squirrel
Coffee Song
You Make Me Feel
Wrapping Paper
Fallstaff Beer

I Feel Free
White Room