Review by feinstei August 3, 2014 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
|I felt exactly the opposite than the other reviewer. I thought that this issue of the Cream album collection was universally awful. This is NOT the fault of the Universal remastering staff, but just a characteristic of how badly this album was originally recorded due to the tremendous noise that the group made at the close of their career.
The first three tracks were recorded live in an environment (The L.A. Forum) that precluded any semblance of "high fidelity". The early-generation transistorized recording equipment was dreadfully overloaded and mike placement was way too close to the heavily amplified environment. Also, Ginger Baker's wouldn't keep his damned drums down to a reasonable level, so the resulting transistorized recording had no dynamic range whatsoever. All three live recordings are just a flat, lifeless blur.
The performances are not Cream's best. All three players were kind of sick of each other by this point in their career and they seemed to be substituting technical "show-off" playing for the musicianship that was evident on the live recordings released on the second record of "Wheels Of Fire". These live performances pale in comparison to those earlier performances.
As far as the live half of "Goodbye" -- this is probably the worst sounding SACD that I've ever heard. The $8.00 CD version sounds just as good as this $70 SACD.
The studio performances are much better performance wise and are witty and classic additions to Cream's legacy. Harrison and Clapton's "Badge" is a classic. Bruce's "Doing That Scrapyard Thing" is a witty classic track that contributes much to Bruce's legacy. Ginger Baker's great piece of rock and roll "What A Bringdown" is a fitting close to Cream's career.
The sound of the studio tracks is also lousy since you can't make a diamond out of manure. These tracks were very poorly recorded, again, due to the terrible sound of early transistorized mixing and recording equipment. The sound is tinny and flat. You won't be able to tell any difference between a cheap CD issue and this one. Adrian Barber, one of the two engineers, got as good a sound engineering this recording as he did recording the Beatles at the Star-Club in Hamburg back in 1962 (in other words -- lousy).
Again -- much of the blame for the thin-ness and lack of dynamic range on the tracks is due to the inability of the early transistorized equipment to produce decent sound.
The presentation of this package by Universal Japan is superb. The outside box encloses an exact mini-replica of the British gatefold Polydor sleeve (in the U.S. it was on Atco instead of Polydor) with heavy cardboard. The CD is packed separately inside the box within a scratch-protective sleeve. The usual Japanese lyric sheet is enclosed.
My opinion... buy the other three albums in this series on SACD since they are the best that they've ever sounded. Don't waste your money on this one unless you really want the great artwork. The sound on this one is no improvement over the cheap CD's. If only Cream had turned down the damned volume and Atlantic had stuck with vacuum tubes for this album, the master tapes could have sounded really good.
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