Cream – Disraeli Gears

  • A KILLER UK stereo copy of Cream’s second studio album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • You aren’t going to believe how hard this pressing rocks, with all the WHOMP and ENERGY you never knew was there
  • Surprisingly good sound for classics like Strange Brew, Sunshine Of Your Love and Tales of Brave Ulysses
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…the imagination of the arrangements, the strength of the compositions, and especially the force of the musicianship make this album transcend its time.”

This amazing copy has the kind of smooth, analog sound you need for this music — warm, rich, smooth, and pretty much free of the nasty grain that gets in the way on most pressings. There’s good extension up top, and the bottom end is meaty and well-defined.

The lesson we’ve learned over the years is that when the extremes are properly transferred to the vinyl, the middle will take care of itself. Since the extremes seem to be the hardest thing to get right, at least on this record, that might explain why so many copies don’t really sound the way they should.

What the Best Sides of Disraeli Gears Have to Offer is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1967
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

The Right Sound

This is a Tom Dowd recording with its share of issues. You will probably not be demonstrating your stereo with this record.

But after finding these Hot Stamper pressings, one thing we can say for them, for this very record in fact, is they sound right. They are correct for both recordings made circa 1967 and correct for recordings from the ’60s with Tom Dowd at the controls.

The sound here is so much better than I ever thought it could be; it’s given me a whole new appreciation for the album itself. I’ve grown to love it and now consider it one of the All-Time Greats. When you hear this copy you may feel the same way.

What We’re Listening For on Disraeli Gears

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage import pressing will play, and since only the right vintage imports have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Strange Brew
Sunshine of Your Love
World of Pain
Dance the Night Away
Blue Condition

Side Two

Tales of Brave Ulysses
Swlabr 
We’re Going Wrong
Outside Woman Blues
Take It Back
Mother’s Lament

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

Cream teamed up with producer Felix Pappalardi for their second album, Disraeli Gears, a move that helped push the power trio toward psychedelia and also helped give the album a thematic coherence missing from the debut. This, of course, means that Disraeli Gears gets further away from the pure blues improvisatory troupe they were intended to be, but it does get them to be who they truly are: a massive, innovative power trio. The blues still courses throughout Disraeli Gears — the swirling kaleidoscopic “Strange Brew” is built upon a riff lifted from Albert King — but it’s filtered into saturated colors, as it is on “Sunshine of Your Love,” or it’s slowed down and blurred out as it is on the ominous murk of “Tales of Brave Ulysses.”

It’s a pure psychedelic move that’s spurred along by Jack Bruce’s flourishing collaboration with Pete Brown. Together, this pair steers this album away from recycled blues-rock and toward its eccentric British core, for with the fuzzy freak-out “Swlabr,” the music hall flourishes of “Dance the Night Away,” the swinging “Take It Back,” and of course, the schoolboy singalong “Mother’s Lament,” this is a very British record. Even so, this crossed the ocean and became a major hit in America as well, because for no matter how whimsical certain segments are, Cream is still a heavy rock trio and Disraeli Gears is a quintessential heavy rock album of the ’60s. Yes, its psychedelic trappings tie it forever to 1967, but the imagination of the arrangements, the strength of the compositions, and especially the force of the musicianship make this album transcend its time as well.

Shootout Criteria

What are the sonic qualities by which a Pop or Rock record — any Pop or Rock record — should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.

When we can get many of the qualities above to come together on the side we’re playing, we provisionally award it a Hot Stamper grade, which may or may not be revised over the course of the shootout as we hear what the various other copies sound like. Once we’ve been through all our side ones, we then play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner. Other copies have their grades raised or lowered depending on how they sounded relative to the shootout winner. Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.

That’s why the most common grade for a White Hot Stamper pressing is Triple Plus (A+++) on one side and Double Plus (A++) on the other. Finding the two best sounding sides from a shootout on the same LP certainly does happen, but it sure doesn’t happen as often as we would like (!) — there are just too many variables in the mastering and pressing processes to ensure consistently high quality.

Record shootouts may not be rocket science, but they’re a science of a kind, one with strict protocols developed over the course of many years to ensure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can possibly make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing — or your money back.