Cream teamed up with producer Felix Pappalardi for their second album, Disraeli Gears, a move that helped push the power trio toward psychedelia and also helped give the album a thematic coherence missing from the debut. This, of course, means that Cream get further away from the pure blues improvisatory troupe they were intended to be, but it does get them to be who they truly are: a massive, innovative power trio. The blues still courses throughout Disraeli Gears -- the swirling kaleidoscopic "Strange Brew" is built upon a riff lifted from Albert King -- but it's filtered into saturated colors, as it is on "Sunshine of Your Love," or it's slowed down and blurred out, as it is on the ominous murk of "Tales of Brave Ulysses." It's a pure psychedelic move that's spurred along by Jack Bruce's flourishing collaboration with Pete Brown. Together, this pair steers the album away from recycled blues-rock and toward its eccentric British core, for with the fuzzy freakout "Swlabr," the music hall flourishes of "Dance the Night Away," the swinging "Take It Back," and of course, the old music hall song "Mother's Lament," this is a very British record. Even so, this crossed the ocean and also became a major hit in America, because regardless of how whimsical certain segments are, Cream are still a heavy rock trio and Disraeli Gears is a quintessential heavy rock album of the '60s. Yes, its psychedelic trappings tie it forever to 1967, but the imagination of the arrangements, the strength of the compositions, and especially the force of the musicianship make this album transcend its time as well.
Disraeli Gears Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine