Only one word can be used to describe this bootleg: awesome.
Cream were at their live peak in early 1968 and this show at Back Bay Theatre in Boston still blows you away 46 years later. The band open with a 17 minute version of Sunshine Of Your Love which sets the pace for the rest of the show. It’s without a doubt one of the most energy driven versions of this song ever played or recorded and the band are in their element. Even now you can hear how involved with the song they are and it’s just fantastic. When they finish the song (17 minutes and 12 seconds later) Bruce or Clapton tell the crowd that they enjoy getting warmed up. That’s one hell of a warm up! They didn’t finish there though as the second song, a great version of the Howlin’ Wolf song Spoonful, clocks in at 17 minutes and 32 seconds. That’s over half an hour for just two songs. Incredible!
But that’s Cream in a nutshell, they improvised heavily on stage and took the music to a different level completely, a level not possible in the studio. Sleepy Time Time is the third track and is a song which featured on their debut album Fresh Cream from 1966. It’s a great blues number with Clapton playing some delicious licks. The highlight of the show though comes in the form of Steppin’ Out, a track Clapton originally played with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers two years previously. But as you’d expect from Cream, Steppin’ Out is massively expanded and they sound tighter than a ducks arse. This is by far one of the best songs to listen to if you want to understand why the members of Cream were considered the ‘Cream’ of the crop. Jack Bruce plays the bass like a lead instrument, Ginger Baker plays like he’s possessed and Clapton (as always during this period) plays some of the best lead guitar you will ever hear.
- Sunshine Of Your Love
- Sleepy Time Time
- Steppin’ Out
Traintime and Toad wrap up the performance, the latter clocking in at a whopping 16 minutes and 38 seconds, with Baker’s drum solo taking up most of that time. I can only listen to Toad so many times but there’s no doubt what a monster Baker was (and still is!) behind the kit. That’s what a background in jazz drums does to you. Just phenomenal.
This is an outstanding live show from an outstanding live band. I guarantee that you will NEVER hear a boring live performance from Cream, especially in this early 1968 period. There are many other live bootlegs from this period, some of which will probably come up in future Bootleg Series instalments, and they are all great. The set lists changed from gig to gig but their energy and love for the music remained the same.