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Disreali Gears [Deluxe Edition]

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
Intense Cream fans and collectors might be disappointed in the two-CD deluxe edition of Disraeli Gears for offering little in the way of previously unreleased material. There is a lot of extra stuff here, mind you, which makes it a nice expansion of the group's best and most focused album. There's the original album in both stereo and mono; two outtakes of "Lawdy Mama" and five additional demos (all seven of which previously appeared on the Those Were the Days box set); and nine 1967-1968 BBC recordings from the Disraeli Gears era (all of which appear on the BBC Sessions compilation). The only wholly previously unavailable item is an alternate version of "Blue Condition" with Eric Clapton on lead vocal, in both stereo and mono, which actually qualifies as about the least interesting track on the set. And why, pray tell, is the BBC version of "Sunshine of Your Love" -- far and away the album's most popular song -- present on BBC Sessions, but not included here? That minor complaint aside, this is a fine listen, the main album enduring as the peak of Cream's artistry, as the group blended its original blues-rock with psychedelic pop on well-written songs with a mystical tinge. Almost every song is excellent, and "Sunshine of Your Love," "Dance the Night Away," "Swalbr," "Strange Brew," and "We're Going Wrong" are all among the very best tracks the band laid down. While the extras can't match the album itself, they're all worth hearing for both historical appreciation and actual listening pleasure. The five demos are considerably rougher than the much more polished final record, but offer three songs ("Hey Now Princess," "Weird of Hermiston," and "The Clearout") that didn't make the ultimate cut. None of them really deserved to, but the vituperative "Hey Now Princess" and more whimsical "Weird of Hermiston" are interesting relics of the Jack Bruce-Pete Brown songwriting partnership, while "The Clearout" is a pretty hot instrumental that sounds like a backing track only in need of some good lyrics to make for a worthwhile album cut. Six of the nine BBC recordings are versions of songs from Disraeli Gears itself, while two ("Politician" and "Born Under a Bad Sign") would appear on their subsequent LP, Wheels of Fire, and one (the instrumental "Steppin' Out") had been previously cut by Eric Clapton in his Bluesbreakers days. In the usual BBC tradition, these nine tracks aren't up to the level of their studio counterparts, but make for worthy contrast to the better-known versions, with a certain live edge. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi