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Cream: Farewell Concert
featuring: Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, and Eric Clapton

director: Tony Palmer

45/80 minutes (E) 1968
BMG DVD Region 2 retail
Also available to buy on video

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Richard G. Vander

The Cream comprised Jack Bruce, Peter 'Ginger' Baker and Eric Clapton, lauded as the first super-group of rock. However that status may only be claimed, in fact, if one considers the individuals' level of celebrity, today. Back in the summer of 1966, it's fair to say that Clapton was the only one with any real cache. Praised for their musical skills and the improvisational quality of their live shows in America, the shrewd combination of Ginger Baker's assertive drumming, the song writing talents (with Pete Brown) of bassist Bruce (who had once studied cello), and the virtuoso blues guitar of Clapton (later nicknamed god), made for an astoundingly fruitful and later influential, if brief, progression in the transatlantic scene.
   Although Cream produced only four original albums before disbanding in late 1968, this film of their final gig in London's Royal Albert Hall records that unique time in British rock history, of how things were before the era of pure commercial pop. Instantly recognisable - even if you have not heard these songs for 20 years or more, here are eight of the best tracks from these heroes of 1960s' music. This DVD features an option to play the 45-minute version, prepared for the BBC arts programme Omnibus, or the original feature-length concert (80 minutes). There are also filmed interviews with Bruce, Baker and Clapton - which, unusually, have actual demos of the artists' playing - something unthinkable for many of today's contractually bound or overly self-conscious pop stars.
   Opening with Sunshine Of Your Love and White Room, Cream rip and trip through Cross Roads, Sitting On Top Of The World (with now-kitsch psychedelic lavalamp style overlays), Baker's keen drum solo on Toad, to a stirring I'm So Glad. Along the way, you will also find my favourites, Politician and Spoonful, but whatever you regard as the definitive Cream track, this roughly made video film of mostly close-up shots does capture the edgy energy of a live performance, with a gritty authenticity and startling immediacy that much of the overproduced and rehearsed concert footage seen nowadays, lacks.
   DVD extras: film or TV length options, Dolby digital 5.1 sound, a scrapbook of photos, an optional German language commentary, and new introductory liner notes by director Tony Palmer.

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