Disraeli Gears (Classic Albums)



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Arguably the first Supergroup, Cream with ‘Disraeli Gears’ in 1967, achieved massive worldwide success and ensured their place in rock’s hall of fame. Disraeli Gears has long been regarded as a classic, transforming Cream from visionary blues based revivalists to psychedelic pop / rock heroes and was a pivotal moment in the development of Heavy Rock.

By use of interviews, musical demonstration, acoustic performance and archive footage the programme tells the story behind the conception and recording of this ground-breaking album. We will discover how Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton created the album with the help of lyricist Pete Brown, artist and lyricist Martin Sharp, producer Felix Pappalardi and legendary engineer Tom Dowd. John Mayall, Manfred Mann, music business personnel, key journalists and rock historians add insight to the creation of this classic album.

Ginger Baker was the driving force behind the formation of the band but each member had a prior knowledge of each other’s talents and a formidable reputation for musical excellence. Baker was regarded as one of the finest jazz and rock drummers in Europe and had played with Jack Bruce in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and The Graham Bond Organisation. Jack was classically trained, an innovative bass player and could also deliver a great vocal.  Eric Clapton remains the finest blues guitarist of his generation and had briefly played with Jack in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. They were soon signed by Polydor in the UK and by Ahmet Ertegun to his US label Atlantic Records.

Ginger introduced poet and lyricist Pete Brown into the group’s inner circle and it was with Jack that Brown developed a long-term partnership delivering clever pop songs with sophisticated lyrics.

Cream finally arrived in America with an opportunity to record at Atlantic Records legendary studios with the inventive producer Felix Papallardi and engineer Tom Dowd.  In only 6 days of recording they produced a classic collection of songs that included ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, ‘Strange Brew’, ‘Tales Of Brave Ulysses’, ‘SWLABR’, and ‘We’re Going Wrong’

In ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, Cream produced an unquestionable rock classic that was to provide them with their biggest worldwide hit. Jack also provided ‘Dance The Night Away’ which was inspired by the West Coast scene and a tribute to The Byrds, ‘SWLABR’ it seems stood for ‘She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow’, the lyrics being Pete Brown at his most psychedelic. ‘Take It Back’ was a Bruce / Brown protest at the Vietnam War. 

The only straightforward blues track on the album was ‘Outside Woman Blues’ written by an obscure blues artist, Blind Joe Reynolds, in the 1920’s. Eric contributed another classic track, ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’ with lyrics by Australian artist Martin Sharp from Oz magazine. Martin was also asked to design the album sleeve that has become an icon of Rock Psychedelia. The bizarre title came from a conversation that took place during a car journey with roadie Mick Turner about racing bicycles. Turner mentioned ‘Disraeli gears’ when he meant ‘Derailleur gears’. It appealed to Cream’s surreal sense of humour and was chosen there and then as the title for the album.

 ‘Disraeli Gears’ was finally released in November 1967. It was full of material that combined poetry with cinematic imagery and extremely catchy chart hits took their place alongside ballads, music-hall ditties, pop psychedelia and down home blues. It was their time, and this was the album that propelled them into rock and roll history. Truly a classic album.