Wrapping PaperCream's first single, Wrapping Paper, was recorded at Chalk Farms Studio in June and released October 7, 1966. The choice of Wrapping Paper as their first single is a curious one.
The band had been playing the club circuit in and around London for some time by now, and had built a reputation as a hard driving rhythm and blues band. Their followers expected
to hear the same from the band's first record, and were given instead a pop song which many labelled as too commercial. Had the band "sold out"?
The music press was also disappointed in the single, and pointed out that the B side, Cat's Squirrel,|
was more representative of the type of music Cream was playing during their stage performance. The
band defended their choice of material, claiming they didn't want anyone to have any preconceived
ideas as to what the band should be, or how it should sound.
In fact, Eric, Jack and Ginger hadn't really figured that out yet for themselves.
Robert Stigwood, Cream's manager (and, for a short time, their producer) was also of the opinion that
for the group to succeed they would need a "hit" single. In any event, Wrapping Paper was far from a
"hit". With many of their fans dissatisfied and the press unimpressed, it limped along on the charts,
never reaching higher than # 34, and eventually disappeared.
The release of Wrapping Paper also ruffled a few feathers within the band itself. Jack and Ginger had
I Feel FreeI Feel Free, Cream's second single, was recorded at Mayfair Sound Studios during the same three month period in which Wrapping Paper and Fresh Cream were recorded.
Both the single and the album were released on December 9, 1966.
I Feel Free was far more successful than Wrapping Paper had been, reaching # 11 on the pop charts. Even so, it had been the cause of some friction between Eric and Jack.
"Eric saw the potential of that song", Jack explains, " but he was very upset by his playing on it and I remember us having a big fight because he wanted to re-record it,
which would have been quite difficult".
Fresh Cream, the band's eagerly-awaited debut album was produced by Robert Stigwood,
the group's manager. Stigwood didn't know much more about producing an album than the musicians did.
Although there was some overdubbing on the album (Cat's Squirrel, Spoonful and Sweet Wine are evidence of this) for
the most part, each song was run through a couple of times and then they did a "take".
Eric recalls, "We were just having fun. We were not taking it seriously at all. I mean, most of the time we were fooling
around, drinking, and just having a good time, you know, being kids".
Although the sessions were completed by early September, the release of the album was delayed until December. When
the album finally did come out, Clapton was displeased with it.
Interviewed following the album's realease, Eric says:"I am not happy about it as it could have been better. We were
working on it so long ago and we have greatly improved since then. I'm not completely happy with the production".
In spite of (or perhaps due to) the technical shortcomings of the recording, Fresh Cream remains my favourite studio
album. The numbers are spontaneous and energetic, and more closely resembles Cream's "live" sound than any of their
1) There were actually two different versions of Fresh Cream. The British version (also released in Canada) included Spoonful but did not include their single, I Feel Free. The U.S. |
version included I Feel Free but omitted Spoonful.
Polydor also released an album entitled Full Cream, which was the same as Fresh Cream, (U.S. version) but featured a shortened version of Spoonful.
2) N.S.U. was a song written by Jack and had been one of the numbers the band performed on stage from the outset. In fact, Jack had written the song for the band's very first
rehearsal. N.S.U. is the acronym for non-specific urethritis, a form of venereal disease Eric is rumored to have been afflicted with at the time. The lads, apparently having a bit of fun,
thought it would be a good title for the song.
3) I'm So Glad was an old blues tune written by Nehemiah "Skip" James. When the band recorded the song, they made sure that Skip received the royalties he was entitled to,
something that was not often done in those days. The money probably gave him some comfort in his last years. Skip had the opportunity to see Cream perform his song on stage,
before he succumbed to cancer in 1969. Jack received a letter of gratitude from his widow.
4) Sweet Wine was one of Ginger's early contributions to the band's repertoire. Ginger wrote it with the help of Jack's wife, Janet Godfrey. While the original album properly credits
the song as Godfrey-Baker, the C.D. (at least the one I have) credits the song to Godfrey-Bruce!
Fresh Cream did fairly well in England, reaching number six on the U.K. album charts, and broke into the Top Forty in the U.S.
Even so, the band was still playing at village halls|
and pubs in England. To become a certified success, it was felt that the band had to "conquer America".
The Marquee Club, August 16, 1966. (Photos; Henry Björklund)
At the Starlite Ballroom, February 19, 1967.
Photo Credits; Top; Cream's first single.
Middle; Fresh Cream album cover, photographer unknown.
Bottom photos; Retna Pictures Ltd.