Composed by Eric Clapton / George Harrison

Song Review by

"Badge" is known both as one of Cream's finer songs, and as one of the most notable songwriter-guitarist appearances of George Harrison not to be heard on a Beatles or George Harrison record. The song was co-written by Harrison, then still in the Beatles, and George also plays rhythm guitar on the track. It's one of Cream's more pop-friendly outings, not necessarily due to Harrison's contribution. Like many of Cream's songs, it revolves around crunchy chord-riffs that are bluesy and funky but don't stick to conventional blues patterns, crossing the line from blues-rock to hard rock. The main verses groove nicely but are rather downbeat and melancholy melodically, and certainly lyrically enigmatic. It seems like the narrator's musing about a love affair that hasn't resolved, or is in some kind of indefinite limbo and state of doubt. The verses certainly end on an ominous note, with a ringing minor-keyed sustained chord. Yet there's a bridge that's much lighter and merrier in tone with a memorably enchanting circular riff and brief bursts of falsetto vocals. This is the part where Harrison's influence, direct or indirect, seems most apparent. A pinch of spooky mellotron from producer Felix Pappalardi on the final verse adds to the uneasy ambience of the piece. The word "Badge," incidentally, occurs nowhere in the song; the title arose when Clapton mistook the word "bridge" for "badge" in Harrison's handwritten arrangement.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Goodbye 1969 Polydor
I Feel Free 1969 Polydor 2:46
No Image 1972 2:45
Strange Brew: The Very Best of Cream 1983 Polydor / Universal International 2:46
The Marquee: 30 Legendary Years 1993
Various Artists
Alex 2:43
The Very Best of Cream 1995 Polydor / Interscope 2:45
Sunny Afternoons [Polygram] 1995
Various Artists
Polygram 2:43
Those Were the Days 1997 Interscope / Polydor / Universal / Universal Motown 2:46
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Cream 2000 Polydor / Universal 2:45
Best Air Guitar Album, Vol. 3 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:44
Gold 2005 Polydor / Universal 2:47
I Feel Free: Ultimate Cream 2005 Polydor 2:46
Royal Albert Hall: London May 2-3-5-6 2005 2005 Rhino
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:43
Icon 2011 Polydor 2:44
Icon 2 2011 Polydor 2:45
Live at the Royal Albert Hall 2005 2011 Eagle Rock
While My Guitar Gently Weeps [Universal] 2014
Various Artists
Universal Music TV
Cream: 1966-1972 2014 Polydor 2:43
The Singles 1967-1970 2015 Polydor
Classic Album Selection 2016 Polydor
Now That's What I Call Rock Ballads
Various Artists
Now! 2:45
Top Gear 'Full Throttle'
Various Artists
Universal 2:45
blue highlight denotes editor's pick