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Coloring Club Plus — 11/19/19

Nov 19

Disraeli Gears is the second studio album by the British rock band Cream. It was released in November 2, 1967 and went on to reach No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart. It was also the group’s American breakthrough, becoming a massive seller in 1968, and reaching No. 4 on the American charts. The album was No. 1 for two weeks on the Australian album chart and was listed as the No. 1 album of 1968 by Cash Box in the year-end album chart in the United States. The album features the two singles “Strange Brew” and “Sunshine of Your Love,” as well as their respective B-sides “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and “SWLABR.”

The original 11-track album was remastered in 1998, and then subsequently released as a two-disc Deluxe Edition in 2004.

Drummer Ginger Baker recalled how the album’s title was based on a malapropism which alluded to 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli:
You know how the title came about – Disraeli Gears – yeah? We had this Austin Westminster, and Mick Turner was one of the roadies who’d been with me a long time, and he was driving along and Eric [Clapton] was talking about getting a racing bicycle. Mick, driving, went ‘Oh yeah – Disraeli gears!’ meaning derailleur gears…We all just fell over…We said that’s got to be the album title.

The cover art was created by Australian artist Martin Sharp who lived in the same building as Clapton, The Pheasantry in Chelsea. Sharp would go on to create the artwork to Cream’s next album Wheels of Fire and co-wrote the songs “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and The Savage Seven movie theme “Anyone for Tennis” with Clapton. The photography was by Bob Whitaker, known for works by The Beatles including the controversial Yesterday and Today “butcher” cover. Most of the photographs were taken in July 1967, with shoots in London’s Hyde Park as well as in the Scottish Highlands. Some of the images were shot on Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the British isles. The photos show a clean-shaven Clapton with a bouffant, permed hairstyle. By the time of the album’s release in November, however, he was letting his hair grow out straight and had grown a mustache.

It was voted number 182 in the third edition of Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000). In 2003 the album was ranked No. 114 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list. VH1 also named it their 87th greatest album of all time in 2001. In 2008, the album won a Classic Rock Roll of Honors Award for Classic Album.

Tales of Brave Ulysses” was released as the B-side to the “Strange Brew” single in June 1967. In November, the song was included on Cream’s second album, Disraeli Gears. The song features one of the earliest uses of a wah-wah pedal, which guitarist Eric Clapton plays throughout the song.

The song was the first collaboration between guitarist Eric Clapton and artist Martin Sharp. Clapton composed the music, inspired by the Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1966 hit “Summer in the City”. “I just started chatting to Eric“, said Sharp, who lived in the same building. “I told him I had written a poem. He, in turn, told me he’d written some music. So I gave him my poem. Two weeks later, he turned up with it on the B-side of a 45 record.

You thought the leaden winter
Would bring you down forever
But you rode upon a steamer
To the violence of the sun

And the colors of the sea
Blind your eyes with trembling mermaids
And you touch the distant beaches
With tales of brave Ulysses

How his naked ears were tortured
By the sirens sweetly singing
For the sparkling waves are calling you
To touch their white laced lips

And you see a girl’s brown body
Dancing through the turquoise
And her footprints make you follow
Where the sky loves the sea

And when your fingers find her
She drowns you in her body
Carving deep blue ripples
In the tissues of your mind

The tiny purple fishes
Run laughing through your fingers
And you want to take her with you
To the hard land of the winter

Her name is Aphrodite
And she rides a crimson shell
You know you cannot leave her
For you touched the distant sands

With tales of brave Ulysses
How his naked ears were tortured
By the sirens sweetly singing
Yeah

The tiny purple fishes
Run laughing through your fingers
You want to take her with you
To the hard land of the winter
Songwriters: Eric Patrick Clapton / Martin Sharp

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