Let me tell you a sto­ry. In 1968 when I was 13, my then-43-year-old Dad, a Pro­fes­sor of Agri­cul­ture, had a busi­ness trip to Lon­don, which was a white-hot cen­ter of the whole Six­ties thing. He walked in­to a record store and asked them to sell him a cou­ple of records for his son, what­ev­er was hot. He came home with two Cream sin­gles: White Room backed with Those Were the Days, and Badge b/w What a Bring­down. Was your Dad ev­er that cool? Any­how, that means I’ve loved White Room for fifty years.

I ran off to my room to stick in the lit­tle plas­tic doohick­ey so I could fit it on my record play­er turned up to 45RPM; I on­ly had one speak­er, but it was big. I was hooked, in­stant­ly; the surg­ing chords and melody by Jack Bruce, the lyrics by Pete Brown (Yel­low tigers crouched in jun­gles in her dark eyes), the huge Clap­ton solo, Ginger Bak­er thrash­ing and surg­ing be­hind it al­l, the band lurch­ing in­to and out of 5/4, the buildup af­ter the third verse that says: Guitar so­lo here! It’s aged well. Even­tu­al­ly when I got a lit­tle hip­per I bought Wheels of Fire, which re­mains a fine col­lec­tion.

Wheels of Fire by Cream

There are many record­ings of this, with lots of dif­fer­ent ar­range­ments of voic­es and vers­es, and on ev­ery sin­gle one Clap­ton plays a dif­fer­ent gui­tar solo; some are not as bril­liant as oth­er­s, but that’s his gift to the world, if you’ve ev­er gone to see him play you’ve heard mu­sic custom-created for your plea­sure on that evening.

This is en­try #101 in the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. As for live video… wow, are there ev­er a lot; I watched a few and the qual­i­ty is up and down but the song is just too good to ev­er fail com­plete­ly. I’m go­ing to stick with Cream; here’s their 1968 “Farewell Concert” de­spite the hor­rid cam­era work; Jack Bruce’s young voice full of pow­er and flex, Clap­ton play­ing through way more ef­fects than in lat­er life for that “psychedelic” sound, Bak­er mak­ing sure the beat nev­er gets too set­tled. Then again at one of the 2005 “Reunion” shows. Jack is post-addiction, post-cancer, post-liver-transplant, and his voice is not what it once was, but he gives it ev­ery­thing he’s got and I think brings more emo­tion­al weight. Clapton’s big break is clean­er, deep­er, denser, wis­er, but maybe a lit­tle less fun.


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From: Bradley (Apr 11 2018, at 09:47)

Absolutely classic. One of my all time favorite songs. Clapton’s cover isn’t bad but I prefer the original.


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April 11, 2018
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