Friday, September 13, 2013

Cream 4: Goodbye

While not as obvious a moniker as the totally fake The Beatles Break Up in Mark Shipper’s revisionist history of that band (which, sadly, we can’t find a web link to demonstrate), Goodbye’s title and matching artwork (silly suits on the front, song titles on tombstones in the gatefold) didn’t leave any conjecture about the band’s future in the wind, having done a farewell tour the previous fall. Three songs from that tour make up two thirds of the album—a lengthy “I’m So Glad”, and so-so explorations on two songs from the album before.
In further democratic fashion, each of the remaining three tracks was contributed by each member, of varying quality. The first is the best—the classic “Badge”, co-written by Clapton and George Harrison, coming in under two minutes fifty like a good single should. It’s got everything: tension in the verses, an infectious bridge, distinct but pointless lyrics, and just enough piano and Mellotron to give it color. Even Jack Bruce keeps it simple on that intro. Jack then puts on a truly cartoonish voice for “Doing That Scrapyard Thing”, complete with a vaudeville piano fighting for space against the Leslie guitar. The music for “What A Bringdown” is credited to Ginger Baker—a rhythm that will reappear soon enough—while the track itself is a self-fulfilling prophecy, with vocals traded by the other two guys.
If they wanted to add more value, whoever was in charge could have included the previous fall’s flop single “Anyone For Tennis”, a strange little trifle that would have weighed the album too much on Eric (or maybe he was already embarrassed by it). It has shown up on the occasional CD reissue, but it really doesn’t add much. It pains us to rate this album so low, but as great as “Badge” is, the rest of Goodbye hints that they just couldn’t be bothered. It’s too bad, because when they were good, they were very, very good.

Cream Goodbye (1969)—2

1 comment:

  1. I recently pulled out my vinyl on this. While I can't really disagree with anything you say in your review, I really enjoyed it. Considering it isn't disguising itself as a proper release, maybe a "2" is a little harsh.