by Dillon DiSalvo
1966 saw the formation of the newest sensation out of Britain, Cream. It was one of the original and best power trios in rock history. All three members were regarded as the “cream” of the crop. Most notably was Eric Clapton on guitar and vocals, then Jack Bruce on Bass and vocals, and Ginger Baker on drums. The band’s sound is straight up blues rock and they created some of the most famous riffs and solos of all time. Many have heard the famous “Sunshine of Your Love” lick that is featured on Guitar Hero III and in movies like School of Rock and the solos are everywhere in the Cream set list.
Most of the soloing is done by the legend, Eric Clapton, who is regarded as one of the best guitarists of all time. He is one of the first to use the wah–wah effect in the songs “White Room” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses.” He is also the inventor of the “woman tone” which is a thick muted distortion sound; this is the tone used in the solo of “Sunshine of Your Love.”
Under the high end of Clapton’s guitar lies the deep growl of Jack Bruce’s bass line. His lines are melodies that could really stand on their own. An inspiration to bassists everywhere, he shows the world that bass isn’t just for playing the root while the guitar takes all the glory. Formerly a concert cellist, Bruce’s classical training makes him a musical marvel; he actually takes up his cello once again to play on “Deserted Cities of the Heart.” When he is not singing, his focus goes all to his playing. In “Crossroads,” Clapton takes over as lead vocalist, and Bruce gives a stunning performance of blues bass.
Behind the set sits the drummer extraordinaire. Ginger Baker’s style was one of the things that defined a Cream song. While most modern drummers do the hi hat/snare combo and the simple kick drum beat with tom fills in between, Baker brought something truly unique to the ensemble. His toms were not just for fills, he plays them all through the song. His fills consist of complex kick drum, cymbal and tom combos. His set had two kick drums, and this made him be able to play with his feet in a different time signature than what his hands are doing. His most epic performance is in the song “Toad,” which is essentially just the some of the best drumming ever recorded.
The group disbanded in 1968 after putting out four albums. Rolling Stone Magazine hails them as the sixty-sixth greatest artist of all time. Their music has defined many generations of new and aspiring musicians. All three members moved on to other bands such as Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominoes, and they are all currently playing the music they love.
The Modern Face
Forty years after the formation of Cream, there were two guys jamming in a Cincinnati attic who decided to call themselves Bad Veins. The band was originally a solo attempt by vocalist/guitarist Benjamin Davis, but that soon changed when Davis realized solo was a no go. He asked drummer Sebastien Schultz to sign on, and the duo was born.
However, their band was not complete; drums and guitar were not enough. They decided to bring a most interesting member to the group that makes them truly unique artists. They have a reel to reel tape player which provides orchestra accompaniments, recorded bass lines or whatever they wish to add to the mix. This player’s name is Irene.
Listening to them, one hears a real authentic tone. They are not the polished bands seen on huge record labels with tons of reverb and compression. Bad Veins has that edge to their music, the little minor errors in the songs that are present, but it provides for a raw feel that just can’t be topped. A surge comes from the distorted guitar sounds and the fast hi hat/snare
combos. Also, if one listens closely, Davis’ voice is akin to vocalist Brandon Flowers from The Killers. This being said, The Killers’ singer has nothing on this new talent. Davis has control of his higher range, while Flowers frequently loses his voice to cracks and embarrassing little screams. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but they should watch out for this group.
Another interesting aspect of the group is their stage performance. Davis does not always use the traditional method of voice amplification, the microphone. He tapes a telephone receiver to the mic stand and sings into that on songs like “Falling Tide.”
Other times, when the mic does not fit the occasion, he sings into a megaphone. This is a characteristic of their song “The Lie.” On top of that, there are parts in some songs where there is no drums, vocals or guitar playing, but Irene is giving a solo. So, it is interesting to watch a live video of theirs when all the sudden, the two guys stop playing to sit around listening to a tape player. Good work, Irene.
Probably one of the best new and upcoming bands, Bad Veins is a refreshing change from the high polished, big label artists. Their passion for music comes out in their playing. A few of their shows have been attended by more of the stage hands than actual audience members, but it does not make them play any less enthusiastically. Their debut album entitled, Bad Veins, was just released this past July, and four of their songs as well as their list of upcoming shows are posted on their MySpace page.