THE NEW ORGANISATION
|At the end of the
Oxford gig, Eric and Ginger talked. Ginger told him of his new idea. He asked Eric if he
wanted to put a band together, then asked about a bassist. Eric said, "Yes . . . what
about Jack?" Jack and Ginger decided to bury the hatchet. Jack would be not only the
bassist, but the vocalist as well. The three played together for the first time at
Ginger's house in Neasden. Jack recalls: "It was a tiny little room and we played all
afternoon - it was magical."
A sensation swept over the R&B world when it first heard news of the newly formed Power Trio. A shockwave hit the managers and bandleaders who would lose their star musicians' services. Robert Stigwood, or "Old Stigboot" would be the manager of this extraordinary new outfit. This was perhaps an unfortunate decision, since Stigwood had little faith in the band and wished to milk it for money while it lasted. He would put CREAM on a hectic touring schedule which would contribute to the band's premature demise.
urgently needed material. Eric originally thought the band was going to be a standard
blues band, sort of like "Buddy Guy with a rhythm section". Luckily, Jack had
some material he wanted to cover, which included some of what he had written on his own.
This was added to the blues jams that the band wished to play. The first official
rehearsal would take place in a church hall. The atmosphere was casual, the band members
smoking and cracking jokes, while a group of brownies scampered around the hall raising
dust. Then the music happened. As the witness Chris Welch (author of the exellent book on
Cream, Strange Brew) put it, "It seemed almost frightening. Compared to the
worthy sounds of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers or even the Yardbirds at full tilt, this was
like Armageddon . . . there had been nothing like it heard on the planet. This was heavy
rock at the instant of creation, a kind of super nova explosion which is still radiating
immediately started playing relatively small club dates, breaking attendance records as
fans queued for seven hours to see them. The Triumvirate released their first single,
Wrapping Paper b/w Cat's Squirrel, on Stigwood's Reaction label. Wrapping Paper was a
sentimental, roaring-twenties style tune, written by Jack Bruce and lyricist Pete Brown,
designed to dispel any preconceptions of the band and its musical direction. Reviews were
mixed. Jack Bruce told one reporter: "I must admit we wanted to shock people. We knew
what everyone expected us to release. If only people weren't so prejudiced." For the
fans, however, only live performances mattered. Their live sets were highly unpredicatble,
involving inspired moments of interplay and spontaneous improvisation. The band poured
their souls out; Ginger often collapsed of exhaustion after gigs.
|Since Eric and
Ginger were not experienced writers, Bruce was left to come up with new numbers. He
brought in the poet Pete Brown to write lyrics. Ginger and Pete had known one another from
jazz and poetry gigs in the past. Initially, Ginger and Pete were working together, but an
interesting development occurred. As Jack Bruce humorously recalls, "We were at my
flat. Ginger wanted to write a song with Pete. They were working together on this song. It
wasn't happening, so my wife Janet worked with Ginger and they wrote Sweet Wine. Then I
started working with Pete. So I kind of got Pete Brown and Ginger got my wife."
|Jack and Pete continue to work together to this day. They composed the A side of Cream's second single, I Feel Free b/w N.S.U., which was released in December, 1966. It soared to Number 11 in February, and the band was invited to appear on BBC's Top of the Pops. Thus began CREAM's ascent into stardom.
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