There has been no shortage of Cream
compilations over the years -- as a matter of fact, they far outnumber the group's actual albums, of which there were merely four (true, they were recorded during an insanely productive two-year lifespan) -- but 2005's Gold
is arguably the best of the lot. Released as part of Universal's ongoing Gold
series, Cream's installment spans 29 tracks over the course of two discs, with the first CD being devoted to their studio work (it weighs in at 21 tracks) and the second devoted to live recordings (it runs only eight songs, which illustrates how much they improvised in concert). Not only are all of the usual suspects here -- the hits "I Feel Free," "Strange Brew," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Tales of Brave Ulysses," "Badge," "Swlabr," "Crossroads," and "Politician" -- but this includes such gems as "World of Pain," "Passing the Time," "Doing That Scrapyard Thing," and "What a Bringdown." While there are a handful of cuts that might have deserved inclusion -- chief among them "Four Until Late," "Take It Back," and "As You Said" -- everything essential is here, and each disc draws a near-definitive portrait of what the group achieved on-stage and in the studio. As a (relatively) concise overview, Gold
can't be beat -- it tells you everything you need to know about this legendary supergroup.