Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Where The Shadows Run From Themselves

Back, as they say, in the day, the great who's-the-best-guitarist debate centred around Clapton, Hendrix, Page and Beck.  Similarly, the who's-the-best-band debate centred around Cream, Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin (no one seriously considered Beck in the band category, now did they?).

The Beatles, by the way, where not part of the discussion.  You either set them above such trivial discussion (as I did), or you discounted them as has-been pop artists - which is hilarious.

By the way #2, many people included Ritchie Blackmore and Deep Purple in the debates, but not enough, sadly.

Anyway, I chose Clapton and Cream.  I've already covered that in my mind Clapton was more versatile and way more musical than his rivals.

With Cream, though, it's a different story.  To be sure, the guitar work was a big part of it, as was the fact that Hendrix's bizarreness sometimes neutralized his flashes of astonishing genius.  And Page's questionable taste sometimes took away from his unparalleled talent for both riffs / hooks and production.  While Clapton was #1 primarily because of his work, he was also the last man standing.

But it was more than the guitars.  Plant was arguably a better singer than Jack Bruce, and Hendrix was probably a better songwriter, but there was something about Cream's sound, it's feel, it's impact that was more appealing to me.

The balanced talent was part of it, the constant jousting, the co-operative competition, yes.

Maybe it was the heavier blues influence.  In these heady days before we were overtaken by labels, all three bands could be trippy in a psychedelic way.  All three could do hard driving rock.  All three contributed to the births of heavy metal and classic rock.  And all did the blues just fine, thank you very much.

But Cream was darker, more soulful, maybe more vulnerable.  They touched a deeper nerve, a raw spot, a menacing feeling that could not be named  ...

Oh, I don't know.  I just liked them better.  Too bad they lasted the shortest length of time.

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