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045Cream – Farewell Concert: Royal Albert Hall [1969]

This was Cream’s last ever concert, and their first one in their home country (England) for a long time.  They were met with a roaring crowd and Cream ended their incendiary musical career with a bang. Unfortunately, however, because the night was filmed and recorded, the group were under (even more) pressure to perform well, and as they were all burnt out from touring at this stage the music isn’t as inspired as their earlier stuff. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the official recording (which this is) is of bootleg sound quality, and the video footage – which to this day remains one of the very few videos of the legendary band performing – is amateurish at best. The camera man doesn’t know what the hell he is doing and tries to incorporate ‘psychedelic’ camera effects – like zooming in and out of Clapton’s nose while he’s soloing – instead of focusing on the performance itself. During ‘Crossroads’, which Eric Clapton sings and plays lead guitar on, the camera is pointing at Ginger Baker the whole time, even during Clapton’s magnificent solo!!! At some point he even zooms in on Clapton’s wah pedal, even though Clapton kicked it out of circuit long after they had finished playing White Room…

Anyway, the songs were really good, and at least the video managed to get some fantastic footage of Eric showcasing his guitar skills (not mid song, but during an interview) and making it look like child’s play. The above video has the interview in all it’s glory, which then kicks off into an extremely short (3:32), yet amazing rendition of Steppin’ Out! This is seriously the shortest they’ve ever done this number, as it usually stretches to the 15-20 minute mark! An upside to the inferior quality of the recording is that it really captures what it must’ve been like to hear the legendary Cream play live, you can tell by the hall reverb that the band was playing LOUD! Also, each instrument cuts through the mix nicely, with special mention to Clapton: his guitar tone on this recording is unbelievable! I give it a 4 out of 5, only because of the poor video footage. Not Cream at their best by any means, but still amazing nonetheless.

* * * * 4 stars

Track Listing

  1. Sunshine of Your Love [6:05]
  2. White Room [6:07]
  3. Politician [6:15]
  4. Crossroads [4:13]
  5. Steppin’ Out [3:32]
  6. Sitting On Top of the World [4:36]
  7. Spoonful [12:17]
  8. Toad [9:30]
  9. I’m So Glad [7:03]
  10. Eric Clapton Interview/Steppin’ Out [8:28]
  11. Jack Bruce Interview [4:53]
  12. Ginger Baker Interview [5:31]

 

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