Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rock of Ages: Cream - "Badge" (1969)

Cream has written some of the most memorable guitar riffs and guitar solos of any band from the 60's. From "Sunshine of Your Love" to "White Room" to "Crossroads", there was no better blues rock trio in the 60's than Cream. Thanks mostly to Eric Clapton's prodigious talent and his amazing rhythm cohorts in Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. For some reason, when George Harrison returned Clapton's favor on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", we get a less memorable riff but a more bittersweet and beautiful rock song in the form of "Badge." The production of this song is some of the best of the era. The echoey piano accenting Clapton's quiet riffage during the verse parts is subdued beauty while Baker's pounding drums and Bruce's funky bass take the lead during these parts. When we get to the bridge, George Harrison's signature arpeggio guitar playing brings in a mystical change to the second half of the song and Clapton takes lead during these parts with a howling solo over the fantastic last half of the song. Although this tracks on Cream's final lackluster solo album Goodbye, it's definitely one of the most fantastic songs in their catalogue.

Clapton was only 23 when his best band broke up in '69. He would then go on to Blind Faith with Ginger Baker and Steve Winwood and have an interesting later career with Derek & The Dominos and his own solo effort. For my dime, "Badge" was the pinnacle of his songwriting. There is something so straight forward and honest about this song. Every element from the latter half mellotron organs to the funky bass work to Harrison's nice embelishment that make it a stellar track. Of all power trios that have come and gone, Cream was the best. No doubt in my mind. The raw power and amount of sound these three guys churn out track for track is impressive. "Badge" may be a simpler track for them, but it's still has the power of a heavy rocker like "White Room" or the tripped out "Tales of Brave Ulysses." Cream kills it everytime.

Editors Note: Sorry about the last clip for Badge. No idea it was a shitty cover. There are actually not a lot of Youtube videos for this amazing song so here is a live one from MSG. The sound isn't great but it's better than nothing.

Up Next: Sly & The Famliy Stone bring the funk

1 comment:

race baker said...

Another example of music being created at it's highest level.. another haunting tune as well.