Disraeli Gears is the second studio album by the British rock band Cream ... the real thing!
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It was released in November 1967 and went on to reach No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart. It was also the group’s American breakthrough, becoming a massive seller in 1968, and reaching No. 4 on the American charts. The album was No. 1 for two weeks on the Australian album chart and was listed as the No. 1 album of 1968 by Cash Box in the year-end album chart in the United States. The album features the two singles “Strange Brew” and “Sunshine of Your Love”.
See actual album below. (Reaction 593 003)
The original 11-track album was remastered in 1998, and then subsequently released as a two-disc Deluxe Edition in 2004.
In 1999, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In 2003 the album was ranked No. 114 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. VH1 also named it their 87th greatest album of all time in 2001. In 2008, the album won a Classic Rock Roll of Honours Award for Classic Album.
The title of the album —
Drummer Ginger Baker recalled how the album’s title was based on a malapropism which alluded to 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli:
“ You know how the title came about – Disraeli Gears – yeah? We had this Austin Westminster, and Mick Turner was one of the roadies who’d been with me a long time, and he was driving along and Eric (Clapton) was talking about getting a racing bicycle. Mick, driving, went ‘Oh yeah – Disraeli gears!’ meaning derailleur gears…We all just fell over…We said that’s got to be the album title.”
—- Original album
The album was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York during May 1967, following the band’s nine shows as part of Murray the K’s “Music in the 5th Dimension” concert series. Cream’s American label, ATCO, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlantic Records.
The sessions were produced by future Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi – who co-wrote the tracks “Strange Brew” and “World of Pain” with wife Gail Collins – and were engineered by Tom Dowd – who would later work with Clapton on projects such as Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and 461 Ocean Boulevard. The owner of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun, was also present during the sessions.
According to Dowd the recording sessions took only three and a half days, a feat considering the length of the album. The band’s visas expired on the very last day of recording.
The original 11-track album was remastered by Joseph M. Palmaccio at PolyGram Studios for a 1998 release, including bonus photographs accompanying the original album artwork.
—- Disraeli Gears Deluxe Edition
The “Disraeli Gears Deluxe Edition” includes the complete album in both mono and stereo, demos, alternate takes and tracks taken from the band’s live sessions on BBC radio. Included is an outtake of “Blue Condition” with Eric Clapton on lead vocals and demos of the songs “Weird of Hermiston” and “The Clearout” which were not released until Jack Bruce’s first solo album “Songs for a Tailor”.
The cover art was created by Australian artist Martin Sharp who lived in the same building as Clapton, The Pheasantry in Chelsea. Sharp would go on to create the artwork to Cream’s next album Wheels of Fire and co-wrote the songs “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and The Savage Seven movie theme “Anyone for Tennis” with Eric Clapton. The photography for the album was taken by Bob Whitaker who is known for the photography for several works by The Beatles including the controversial Yesterday and Today “butcher” cover.
The front cover consists of a psychedelic collage with the album’s title centred and the band name below, surrounded by a floral arrangement. Martin Sharp was attempting to capture the sound of the music in the cover, which he describes as a “warm fluorescent sound”.
The cover art was also used for the compilation album Those Were the Days.
—- Song styles
“Disraeli Gears” features the group veering away, quite heavily, from their blues roots and indulging in more psychedelic sounds. The most blues-like tunes on the album are the remake of “Outside Woman Blues”, the Bruce/Brown composition “Take it Back” which had been inspired by the contemporary media images of American students burning their draft cards which featured harmonica work by Jack Bruce, and the opening track “Strange Brew” which was based on a 12-bar blues song called “Lawdy Mama” and featured an Albert King guitar solo, copied note for note.
Track listing – Original album
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Strange Brew” Eric Clapton, Felix Pappalardi, Gail Collins Eric Clapton 2:46
2. “Sunshine of Your Love” Jack Bruce, Pete Brown, Clapton Jack Bruce, Clapton 4:10
3. “World of Pain” Pappalardi, Collins Clapton, Bruce 3:03
4. “Dance the Night Away” Bruce, Brown Bruce, Clapton1 3:34
5. “Blue Condition” Ginger Baker Ginger Baker 3:29
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Tales of Brave Ulysses” Clapton, Martin Sharp Bruce 2:46
2. “SWLABR” Bruce, Brown Bruce 2:32
3. “We’re Going Wrong” Bruce Bruce 3:26
4. “Outside Woman Blues” Arthur Reynolds, arr. Clapton Clapton 2:24
5. “Take It Back” Bruce, Brown Bruce 3:05
6. “Mother’s Lament” Traditional, arr. Clapton, Bruce, Baker Baker, Bruce, Clapton2 1:47
^ Sung as a two-part harmony.
^ Sung as a three-part harmony.
…………………… ADDITIONAL NOTES
Disraeli Gears – deluxe edition (2004)
Disc one (stereo) — Original album
“Lawdy Mama” – version 1 3 (Traditional, arr. Clapton) – 2:00
Recorded 3 April 1967 at Atlantic Studios
Recorded by Ahmet Ertegun
“Blue Condition” – alternate version (Baker) – 3:13
Eric Clapton vocal, previously unreleased
“We’re Going Wrong” (Bruce) – 3:49
“Hey Now, Princess” (Bruce, Brown) – 3:31
“SWLABR” (Bruce, Brown) – 4:30
“Weird of Hermiston” (Bruce, Brown) – 3:12
“The Clearout” (Bruce, Brown) – 3:58
Recorded 15 March 1967 at Ryemuse Studios, London
Disc two (mono)
Original album and out-takes
BBC recordings 4
“Strange Brew” (Clapton, Pappalardi, Collins) – 3:00
“Tales of Brave Ulysses” (Clapton, Sharp) – 2:55
“We’re Going Wrong” (Bruce) – 3:25
Recorded 30 May 1967, broadcast 3 June on BBC Light Programme
“Born Under a Bad Sign” (Booker T. Jones, William Bell) – 3:03
“Outside Woman Blues” (Reynolds) – 3:18
“Take It Back” (Bruce, Brown) – 2:17
Recorded 24 October 1967, broadcast 29 October on BBC Radio 1
“Politician” (Bruce, Brown) – 3:59
“SWLABR” (Bruce, Brown) – 2:32
“Steppin’ Out” (James Bracken) – 3:37
Recorded 9 January 1968, broadcast 14 January on BBC Radio 1
^ Tracks previously released on the Those Were the Days box set.
^ Tracks previously released on the BBC Sessions compilation album.
Ginger Baker – drums, percussion, vocals
Jack Bruce – bass, piano, vocals, harmonica
Eric Clapton – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, 12-string guitar, vocals
Felix Pappalardi – producer
Tom Dowd – recording engineer
Bob Whitaker – cover photography
Martin Sharp – cover art
Jim Marshall – additional photography