Disraeli Gears

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Disraeli Gears
Studio album by
Released2 November 1967 (1967-11-02)
RecordedMay 1967
Studio Atlantic, New York City
Genre Psychedelic rock
Label Reaction
Producer Felix Pappalardi
Cream chronology
Fresh Cream
Disraeli Gears
Wheels of Fire
Singles from Disraeli Gears
  1. "Strange Brew" / "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
    Released: June 1967
  2. "Sunshine of Your Love" / "SWLABR"
    Released: December 1967

Disraeli Gears is the second studio album by the British rock band Cream. It was released in November 1967 [1] and went on to reach No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart. [2] It was also the group's American breakthrough, becoming a massive seller in 1968, and reaching No. 4 on the American charts. [3] The album was No. 1 for two weeks on the Australian album chart and was listed as the No. 1 album of 1968 by Cash Box in the year-end album chart in the United States. [4] The album features the two singles "Strange Brew" and "Sunshine of Your Love," as well as their respective B-sides "Tales of Brave Ulysses" and "SWLABR."

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Cream (band) 1960s British rock supergroup

Cream were a British rock band formed in London in 1966. The group consisted of lead vocalist/bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker. The group's third album, Wheels of Fire (1968), is the world's first platinum-selling double album. The band is widely regarded as the world's first successful supergroup. In their career, they sold more than 15 million records worldwide. Their music included songs based on traditional blues such as "Crossroads" and "Spoonful", and modern blues such as "Born Under a Bad Sign", as well as more current material such as "Strange Brew", "Tales of Brave Ulysses" and "Toad".

The Official Albums Chart is a list of albums ranked by physical and digital sales and audio streaming in the United Kingdom. It was published for the first time on 22 July 1956 and is compiled every week by the Official Charts Company (OCC) on Fridays. It is broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and published in Music Week magazine, and on the OCC website.


The original 11-track album was remastered in 1998, and then subsequently released as a two-disc Deluxe Edition in 2004.



Drummer Ginger Baker recalled how the album's title was based on a malapropism which alluded to 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli:

Ginger Baker English rock drummer

Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker is an English drummer and a founder of the rock band Cream. His work in the 1960s earned him the reputation of "rock's first superstar drummer", while his individual style melds a jazz background with African rhythms. He is credited as a pioneer of drumming in genres like jazz fusion, heavy metal and world music.

A malapropism is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, sometimes humorous utterance. An example is the statement by baseball player Yogi Berra, "Texas has a lot of electrical votes", rather than "electoral votes". Malapropisms often occur as errors in natural speech and are sometimes the subject of media attention, especially when made by politicians or other prominent individuals. Philosopher Donald Davidson has said that malapropisms show the complex process through which the brain translates thoughts into language.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Head of UK Government

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, until 1801 known as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, and together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate.

You know how the title came about – Disraeli Gears – yeah? We had this Austin Westminster, and Mick Turner was one of the roadies who'd been with me a long time, and he was driving along and Eric [Clapton] was talking about getting a racing bicycle. Mick, driving, went 'Oh yeah – Disraeli gears!' meaning derailleur gears...We all just fell over...We said that's got to be the album title. [5]

Austin Westminster 1954 motor car

The Austin Westminster series are large saloon and estate cars that were sold by the British manufacturer Austin from 1954, replacing the A70 Hereford. The Westminster line was produced as the A90, A95, A99, A105, and A110 until 1968 when the new Austin 3-Litre took its place. Essentially badge-engineered versions of the Farina Westminsters were also produced using the premium Wolseley and Vanden Plas marques. 101,634 Westminsters were built.

Road crew support personnel who travel with a band on tour

The road crew are the technicians or support personnel who travel with a band on tour, usually in sleeper buses, and handle every part of the concert productions except actually performing the music with the musicians. This catch-all term covers many people: tour managers, production managers, stage managers, front of house and monitor engineers, lighting directors, lighting designers, lighting techs, guitar techs, bass techs, drum techs, keyboard techs, pyrotechnicians, security/bodyguards, truck drivers, merchandise crew, and caterers, among others.

Eric Clapton English musician, singer, songwriter, and guitarist

Eric Patrick Clapton, is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and of Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. Clapton ranked second in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and fourth in Gibson's "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time". He was also named number five in Time magazine's list of "The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players" in 2009.

Original album

The album was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York during May 1967, following the band's nine shows as part of Murray the K's "Music in the 5th Dimension" concert series. Cream's American label, ATCO, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlantic Records. [6] [7]

Atlantic Studios was the recording studio of Atlantic Records. Although this recording studio was located at 1841 Broadway, in New York City, Atlantic Recording Studios was initially located at 234 West 56th Street from November 1947 until mid-1956. When the Shorty Rogers and His Giants disc of 33.33 rpm called Martians Come Back! was issued in August 1956, the address of Atlantic Recording Studios had relocated to 157 W 57th Street. The studio was the first to record in stereo due to the efforts of Tom Dowd.

Murray the K American DJ

Murray Kaufman, professionally known as Murray the K, was an influential New York City rock and roll impresario and disc jockey of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. During the early days of Beatlemania, he frequently referred to himself as the fifth Beatle.

ATCO Records is an American record company and label founded in 1955 as a division of Atlantic Records. It was devised as an outlet for productions by one of Atlantic's founders, Herb Abramson, who had returned to the company from military service. It was also intended as a home for acts that did not fit the format of Atlantic, which was releasing blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul. The Atco name is an abbreviation of ATlantic COrporation. Atco also provided distribution for other labels, including RSO Records, Volt, Island, Modern, Ruthless, and Rolling Stones Records.

The sessions were produced by future Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi – who co-wrote the tracks "Strange Brew" and "World of Pain" with wife Gail Collins – and were engineered by Tom Dowd – who would later work with Clapton on projects such as Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and 461 Ocean Boulevard . Atlantic Records owner Ahmet Ertegun was also present during the sessions. [8]

Mountain is an American hard rock band that formed on Long Island, New York in 1969. Originally comprising vocalist and guitarist Leslie West, bassist and vocalist Felix Pappalardi, keyboardist Steve Knight and drummer N. D. Smart, the band broke up in 1972 and has reunited frequently since 1973, remaining active as of November 28, 2009. Best known for their cowbell-tinged song "Mississippi Queen", as well as for their performance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, Mountain is one of many bands to be commonly credited as having influenced the development of heavy metal music in the 1970s. The group's musical style primarily consisted of hard rock, blues rock and heavy metal.

Felix Pappalardi American musician

Felix A. Pappalardi Jr. was an American music producer, songwriter, vocalist, and bassist. He is best known to the public as the bassist and vocalist of the band Mountain, whose song "Mississippi Queen" peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has become a classic rock radio staple. Originating in the eclectic music scene in New York's Greenwich Village, he became closely attached to the British power trio Cream, writing, arranging, and producing for their second album Disraeli Gears. As a producer for Atlantic Records, he worked on several projects with guitarist Leslie West; in 1969 their partnership evolved into the band Mountain. The band lasted less than five years, but their work influenced the first generation of heavy metal and hard rock music. Pappalardi continued to work as a producer, session musician, and songwriter until he was shot and killed by his wife Gail Collins in 1983.

Gail Delta Collins Pappalardi was an American songwriter and artist.

According to Dowd the recording sessions took only three and a half days, a feat considering the length of the album. The band's visas expired on the very last day of recording. [9]

The original 11-track album was remastered by Joseph M. Palmaccio at PolyGram Studios [1] for a 1998 release, including bonus photographs accompanying the original album artwork.

Deluxe Edition

The "Disraeli Gears Deluxe Edition" includes the complete album in both mono and stereo, demos, alternative takes and tracks taken from the band's live sessions on BBC radio. Included is an outtake of "Blue Condition" with Eric Clapton on lead vocals and demos of the songs "Weird of Hermiston" and "The Clearout" which were not released until Jack Bruce's first solo album "Songs for a Tailor".


The cover art was created by Australian artist Martin Sharp who lived in the same building as Clapton, The Pheasantry in Chelsea. Sharp would go on to create the artwork to Cream's next album Wheels of Fire and co-wrote the songs "Tales of Brave Ulysses" and The Savage Seven movie theme "Anyone for Tennis" with Clapton. The photography was by Bob Whitaker, known for works by The Beatles including the controversial Yesterday and Today "butcher" cover. Most of the photographs were taken in July of 1967, with shoots in London's Hyde Park as well as in the Scottish Highlands. Some of the images were shot on Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the British isles. The photos show a clean-shaven Clapton with a bouffant, permed hairstyle. By the time of the album's release in November, however, he was letting his hair grow out straight and had grown a moustache.

The front cover consists of a psychedelic collage with the title centred and band name below, surrounded by a floral arrangement. Martin Sharp was attempting to capture the sound of the music in the cover, which he describes as a "warm fluorescent sound": [10]

I got hold of a publicity shot and cut it up, along with cutouts from various books, laid the pieces out and stuck them together as a collage on a 12-inch square. I did some drawing outlines, and then painted all over it with fluorescent inks and paints of the time. I really wanted to capture that warm, electric sound of their music in the colours and expression of the cover. On my way to England, I'd gone [to Cambodia]. And in one of the towns I visited, there were these amazing sculptures with faces on each side, and huge trees growing out on top… Over the years, these great trees had taken root and grown. I suppose I thought that was a bit like the band: where you could see three faces, and the music coming out of their heads. [11]

The cover art was also used for the compilation Those Were the Days .

Musical style

Disraeli Gears features the group veering away, quite heavily, from their blues roots and indulging in more psychedelic sounds, in particular on tracks such as "Tales of Brave Ulysses," "SWLABR," "World of Pain," and "Dance the Night Away," the latter of which features a 12-string guitar (the only time the instrument would be used on a Cream recording). The most blues-like tunes on the album are Clapton's arrangement of "Outside Woman Blues", the Bruce-Brown composition "Take it Back" which had been inspired by the contemporary media images of American students burning their draft cards which featured harmonica work by Jack Bruce, [12] and the opening track "Strange Brew" which was based on a 12-bar blues song called "Lawdy Mama" and featured an Albert King guitar solo, copied note for note. [8]

Unlike the previous Fresh Cream, which was vocally dominated by Bruce, the vocals on Disraeli Gears were a more democratic affair. Clapton sings lead on "Strange Brew" and "Outside Woman Blues" and co-lead on "World of Pain," "Dance the Night Away," and "Sunshine of Your Love." Baker, meanwhile, performs lead vocals on his composition "Blue Condition." All three band members sing together on "Mother's Lament."

In contrast to much of the band's other work, Disraeli Gears is composed mainly of short, self-contained songs, with none of the improvisation and jamming the band was known for onstage.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [13]
MusicHound Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [14]
Sputnikmusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [15]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [16]
Great Rock Discography Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [17]
Chicago Tribune Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [18]
Music Story Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [17]
BBC Music Positive [19]

Writing for the BBC, Chris Jones described the album as "a perfect encapsulation of the point where the blues got psychedelic and in turn got heavy". [19] Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic describes the album as "a quintessential heavy rock album of the '60s". [13] Dave Swanson of Ultimate Classic Rock believes the album to be "their masterpiece". [20]

In 1999, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. [21]

In 2003 the album was ranked No. 114 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. [22] VH1 also named it their 87th greatest album of all time in 2001. [23] In 2008, the album won a Classic Rock Roll of Honours Award for Classic Album. [24]

Track listing

Original album

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Strange Brew" Eric Clapton 2:46
2."Sunshine of Your Love" Jack Bruce with Clapton4:10
3."World of Pain"
  • Pappalardi
  • Collins
Bruce and Clapton3:03
4."Dance the Night Away"
  • Bruce
  • Brown
Bruce and Clapton3:34
5."Blue Condition" Ginger Baker Ginger Baker 3:29
Total length:17:02
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Tales of Brave Ulysses"
  • Bruce
  • Brown
3."We're Going Wrong"BruceBruce3:26
4."Outside Woman Blues" Arthur Reynolds, arr. ClaptonClapton2:24
5."Take It Back"
  • Bruce
  • Brown
6."Mother's Lament"Traditional, arr. Bruce, Clapton, BakerBruce, Clapton, and Baker1:47
Total length:16:00

Disraeli Gears – deluxe edition (2004)

Disc one (stereo)

Original album
Tracks 1–11
  1. "Lawdy Mama" – version 1 3 (Traditional, arr. Clapton) – 2:00
Recorded 3 April 1967 at Atlantic Studios
Recorded by Ahmet Ertegun [8]
  1. "Blue Condition" – alternate version (Baker) – 3:13
Eric Clapton vocal, previously unreleased
Demos 3
  1. "We're Going Wrong" (Bruce) – 3:49
  2. "Hey Now, Princess" (Bruce, Brown) – 3:31
  3. "SWLABR" (Bruce, Brown) – 4:30
  4. "Weird of Hermiston" (Bruce, Brown) – 3:12
  5. "The Clearout" (Bruce, Brown) – 3:58
Recorded 15 March 1967 at Ryemuse Studios, London

Disc two (mono)

Original album and out-takes
Tracks 1–13
BBC recordings 4
  1. "Strange Brew" (Clapton, Pappalardi, Collins) – 3:00
  2. "Tales of Brave Ulysses" (Clapton, Sharp) – 2:55
  3. "We're Going Wrong" (Bruce) – 3:25
Recorded 30 May 1967, broadcast 3 June on BBC Light Programme
  1. "Born Under a Bad Sign" (Booker T. Jones, William Bell) – 3:03
  2. "Outside Woman Blues" (Reynolds) – 3:18
  3. "Take It Back" (Bruce, Brown) – 2:17
Recorded 24 October 1967, broadcast 29 October on BBC Radio 1
  1. "Politician" (Bruce, Brown) – 3:59
  2. "SWLABR" (Bruce, Brown) – 2:32
  3. "Steppin' Out" (James Bracken) – 3:37
Recorded 9 January 1968, broadcast 14 January on BBC Radio 1
  1. ^ Tracks previously released on the Those Were the Days box set.
  2. ^ Tracks previously released on the BBC Sessions compilation album.






Chart (1967)Peak
Finland (Finnish Albums Chart)1
UK (Top 40 Albums) [2] 5
Norway (Top 40 Albums) [25] 16
Chart (1968)Peak
US Billboard 200 [3] 4
US Cash Box Top 100 Pop Albums Year-End Chart [4] 1
Australia Australian Albums Chart (Kent Music Report)1
Canada (Top 50 Albums) [26] 10
Chart (2010)Peak
Greece (Top 50 Albums) [27] 29


Billboard Hot 100UK Top 40 [2]
June 1967"Strange Brew"/"Tales of Brave Ulysses"-No. 17
October 1967"Sunshine of Your Love"/"SWLABR"No. 5No. 25


RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA) [28] Platinum70,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [29] Gold100,000^
United States (RIAA) [30] Platinum1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history

United KingdomNovember 1967 Reaction Records mono LP 593 003
stereo LP594 003
United StatesNovember 1967 Atco Records mono LP33-232
stereo LPSD 33-232
GermanyNovember 1967 Polydor Records stereo LP184 105
JapanMay 1968Polydor Recordsstereo LPMP-1390
United States1977 RSO Records LPRS 1–3010
United States1986Polydor RecordsCD823 636-2
United States2004Polydor Records/ChroncilesDeluxe Edition CDB0003331-02
United Kingdom2004Polydor RecordsDeluxe Edition CD0602498193129

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