From Gears to Wheels
Pt 3: Burnin'
On February 10 1968 they returned to New York for an extended 10 day stay in the studio. “Anyone for Tennis” and “Pressed Rat” were completed with new vocals/guitar overdub and guitar overdub respectively. But it was academic as “Sunshine of Your Love” was released to considerable acclaim if not sales. The alternative single, “White Room” was largely completed.
began in earnest on the rest of the album with “Politician” largely laid
down. Other basic tracks were laid
down “Passing the Time”, “As You Said”, “Those Were The Days” and
“Deserted Cities of the Heart”. This
session was totally dominated by Jack Bruce and Felix Papallardi.
Eric contributed nothing more than his guitar and even this was absent on
“As You Said” (“You can play that” – EC).
Ginger went to the bar though still got involved in the mixing – had to
make sure the drums were clear.
Vocals for "Passing the Time" with colliope
was doing the arrangements with Felix’s support. “Passing the Time” is a good example as it is a composite
of two songs – “Passing the Time” and an instrumental planned to replace
Toad aka “Scatterfaragus”. Ginger had
a basic organ melody but Jack put it together using a calliope with Felix
on organ bass pedals to produce a little gem.
“As you Said” was an almost total Jack Bruce solo performance and is
based on Richie Haven’s guitar tuning and playing.
The album was largely in the bag with Felix continuing to overdub his
parts and mix the album.
some stage it was decided to record them live probably to have a live
album as a follow up to the studio album, which was planned for release
mid-year. The Fillmore was
chosen as the preferred venue but Cream were now huge on the West Coast
and most of the gigs were played at the much larger Winterland.
Tom Dowd organised two eight track tape machines in a truck trailer. They were recorded on the 7th at the Fillmore, then the 8th, 9th and 10th at Winterland. Whether they originally intended to record 4 nights is debatable as typical Jazz or Blues live recordings were captured on one night, two at most. Tom Dowd had found them loud in the studio on half stacks - concert level was something again.
Dowd struggled with the massive bleed into drum mikes and vocal mikes.
The latter could be solved in after mixing.
Tom had now achieved a great drum sound in the studio, beautifully spread
over the two channels on the stereo mix-down.
The bleed of bass was acceptable as it boosted bass energy but the guitar
was all over the sound stage. Tpom
was miking Baker as he had in the studio with 2 overhead distant condenser
mikes. Even the bass drum mikes were well back.
mixes show some experiments – “Sunshine of Your Love” from the 7th
has the guitar panned centre when the solo starts and NSU from the 9th
has guitar right-centre. By the 10th
Tom convinced Eric to drop back to one amp as he was not satisfied with what he
had in the can. The reality was
that it didn’t really matter – there is a strong case that live rock is
effectively a mono sound. If you
are in an optimum sound position you effectively just hear a wall of spatially
was available to produce 2 & half albums.
Unfortunately all the master tapes were lost in the Atlantic archive
fire. Only the two track half inch
master mix downs exist of the released material. Enough material is now
available in digitally remastered form to replicate a typical Fillmore/Winterland
of Brave Ulysses
of Your Love
(from the 10th)
was not to end until June On
completion the album had to be completed and mixed.
Ginger went straight home. Eric did some final overdubbing, principally
on Politician and Deserted Cities of the Heart and went home.
Jack and Felix finished the album. A
daring decision was made to release it as a double album –In the Studio and
Live at the Fillmore. The Live at
the Fillmore was stretching the truth with only Toad coming from that venue.
‘Wheels of Fire’ was released in the US in July and UK in August.
By November it had gone platinum in the US, actually gold album but
platinum cause it was a double.
officially disbanded except for a final tour and last album.
Gears there were some left over tracks from the Wheels sessions.
All the live material has been released except for Toad from the 9th.
The 7th Sunshine is available in good quality on bootlegs from
the long unavailable sampler. The
studio left overs were the full version of “Passing the Time”, alternate
mixes of “Sitting on Top of the World”, “As You Said”, and “Pressed
Rat and Warthog”. Sitting and As
are in excellent quality unofficial circulation after inadvertent release on a
limited number of the now out of print DCC Gold ‘Wheels of Fire’.
The sonic difference is not significant and for completists only – As
has a lower cello mix and Sitting a thinner bass sound (Jack thickened the Dan
Electro with an EB3 overdub) and Pressed is just the earlier single mix.
© Graeme Pattingale, 2004
Thanks to Manny G and Keith B for many rare images