Cream

Sunshine of Your Love

Composed by Pete Brown / Peter Brown / Peter Brown / Jack Bruce / Eric Clapton

Song Review by

"Sunshine of Your Love" was Cream's most famous and popular recording, making #5 in 1968. If Cream, the band, were one of the ultimate intersections between hard rock, pop, and psychedelia, "Sunshine of Your Love" was one of its ultimate examples of such a hybrid. The big hook of "Sunshine of Your Love" is a grinding, instantly memorable hard rock riff, stuttering between two notes before hellishly descending for a few more, then rising in an upward squiggle. That riff continues throughout the verses, only changing in that it sometimes changes keys. Jack Bruce's lead vocal is charged with operatic angst without becoming overbearing, a difficult balancing act to be sure, but one that he deftly maintains. The verses are broken up by an equally memorable chorus-bridge, a circular three-chord pattern in which the rhythms become tenser, mirroring the lyric's growing anticipation and waiting for the sunshine of his lover's love. It's not a conventional love song, however; it seems as much about a personal or metaphorical journey as it does simply waiting around for a woman, or for sex. The instrumental break features, as do several of the best Cream songs, an Eric Clapton song that is ferociously psychedelic and bluesy, yet also relatively concise, simmering rather than overextending. The song's lyrical focus on waiting for sunshine before dawn had quite direct origins; Peter Brown has recalled that when Bruce played the riff on bass, it was five o'clock in the morning, with Brown looking out the window as dawn grew near. Undoubtedly the most famous cover version of the tune was by Jimi Hendrix, who did it live on several occasions that have been preserved by legitimate and illegitimate releases; most notoriously, he once did an unplanned version on a British television variety show hosted by Lulu that caused the program to run overtime. The wholesome family rock group the Cowsills might be the most unlikely act to have covered the tune. As an obscure footnote, the principal riff of "Sunshine of Your Love" can be heard on the fadeout of Skip Spence's "War in Peace" on his Oar album, one of the most esteemed cult rock albums ever.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Disraeli Gears 1967 Polydor 4:13