For this show, I may need some assistance from our listening audience, or at the very least, a fair amount of patience. You see, we started this series of shows with the name “The Top 500 of the Top 40”, meant to represent our choices for the 500 best albums to achieve that distinction. Now, using the word ‘best’ by definition means that the list is subjective, and since I am the arbiter of this list, it has been my own opinions that populated this list. That’s all well and good, but as this album proves, there are times when I need to acknowledge greatness even when I remain apprehensive.
Despite the acclaim, and their status as a timelessly influential band, I was never a bit fan of the band Cream. Yes, I liked some of their material, but there was just as much that I did not like. I saw them as heavy-handed in their approach, and yet, as a three piece, incapable of achieving a full band sound. Theoretically, they were even more of a mess. Clapton left the Yardbirds because he wanted to pursue blues in a purist form rather than pop music, but Cream was at least that band’s equal in the pursuit of pop culture acclaim. Further, Cream can be blamed as one of the most flagrant deconstructionists of the blues. Once an economical art form that was based on life’s experiences, Cream turned it into a self-indulgent means for endless interpretation, a deeply ironic and self-contradictory scenario considering Clapton’s purist tendencies. Even on a more basic level, the band bothered me. Their songwriting was incredibly inconsistent. I’d venture that two-thirds of the music they released in their ‘official’ catalog would qualify as filler, with about half of this album (which is generally acknowledges as their tour-de-force) wasted on now-forgotten toss-offs that are almost embarrassingly obsolete.
By harboring such harsh inclinations, I naturally felt no desire to include “Disraeli Gears” on my list of the 500 best Top 40 albums, but I also realized that I needed to clarify my own definition of was meant by the word ‘best’. Sometimes, when reviewing history, you need to take counsel and heed the opinions of others. When Rolling Stone magazine placed the album at #114 on its own all-time greatest list, and VH1 saw fit to place it at 87, I realized that my prejudices were forcing my own opinions to be off center, Ultimately, by placing the album in the context of its time and recognizing its importance as an instrument for change, I found it very easy to include “Disraeli Gears” on my own list, but that doesn’t make the album sound any better to me.
Featured tracks include;
Sunshine of Your Love
World of Pain
Dance the Night Away
Tales of Brave Ulysses
We’re Going Wrong
Outside Woman Blues
Take It Back
November 1967 – Billboard Charted #4