Heavenly Cream: An Acoustic Tribute To Cream, recently released by Quarto Valley Records, is an all-star homage to the iconic English band that helped redefine the blues rock landscape.
Formed in 1966, Cream, comprised of Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton, and Ginger Baker, redefined rock history in their short three-year run, introducing the now-celebrated power trio format atop waves of robust blues rock and psychedelia. In an effort to pay tribute to the groundbreaking music unleashed by the group, the band’s late lyricist Pete Brown teamed up with a high-caliber array of guests to reproduce the trio’s magic in an acoustic setting.
Featuring Ginger Baker himself, Bernie Marsden, Joe Bonamassa, Paul Rodgers, Bobby Rush, Maggie Bell, Nathan James, Deborah Bonham and Malcolm Bruce, Jack’s son, the record presents a 15-song set that encompasses all of the group’s most notorious numbers.
The album opens with “I Feel Free,” which benefits from a slightly jazzier twist and Deborah Bonham’s inspired vocal performance.
Next, an intriguing take on “White Room” steps into play. Brown, although not quite reaching the same high notes, does a great job in reworking Jack Bruce’s iconic vocals, while the added strings add to the song’s ethereal vibe and mysterious lyrics. The strings also substitute Clapton’s guitar as the lead instrument, with phantasmagorical bursts of violin replacing the wah-wah-soaked assault in the song’s outro, which is an unexpected yet ultimately interesting choice.
A bit jazzier in comparison, “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” is another highlight, featuring great saxophone work, while the take on “Crossroads”, sung by Bernie Marsden, plays out closely to its electric counterpart, although Marsden’s guitar solo adds a slightly different shade to the proceedings.
Among the other bluesy numbers, “Born Under A Bad Sign”, sung by none other than Paul Rodgers, works quite well, while the take on “Spoonful”, sung by Bobby Rush, adds an element of grit to the original piece.
Elsewhere, Deborah Bonham also takes the helm on “Badge,” delivering a noteworthy rendition accompanied by a great bass line.
However, fittingly, the album’s crown jewel is “Sunshine Of Your Love”, sung by Joe Bonamassa. With Bonamassa and Bernie Marsden on guitars and Baker on drums, the track does not substantially deviate from the original. Alternatively, It is its impeccable execution that makes it a compelling listen, also thanks to Bonamassa’s inspired and confident vocals, which add a dose of punch and swagger to the song.
In short, one can safely affirm that An Acoustic Tribute To Cream does not aim to present ambitious or vastly different reworkings of Cream’s material. Instead, and in an equally commendable fashion, the record offers a respectful nod to the original compositions while allowing the talented lineup of musicians to showcase their skills in a different musical context, providing fans with a refreshing perspective on one of rock music’s greatest acts.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– I Feel Free
– White Room
– Sunshine Of Your Love
The Big Hit
– Sunshine Of Your Love
Buy the album: Amazon