Cream Classic Artists: Cream

Cream, the pioneering ’60s hard rock trio, sets the record straight in an impressive DVD/CD package that casual as well as hardcore fans will enjoy. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker tell their stories, which are often at odds with each other. They recount their beginnings in various jazz and blues bands in mid-’60s England and eventually describe last year’s sold-out reunions in London and New York. Baker, the fiery drummer, nearly steals the show as he denigrates head songwriter and bassist Bruce (which is expected), but he also disses members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, who stole some of the band’s thunder in the summer of 1967. In fact, the last word belongs to Baker, who expresses misgivings about extending the reunion to New York. Baker’s refreshing honesty and the film’s interview-heavy style set it apart from countless rock docs. This isn’t the standard clips pastiche seen on everyday TV but an honest document that allows the personality of each band member to shine: soft-spoken Clapton avoids confrontation, Bruce is shrewd and hardworking, Baker is combative yet earthy. Together they made an awesome sound. There’s hardly any music in the main 113-minute documentary. Instead, several vintage clips are offered within the 87 minutes of special features, as are a wealth of entertaining interviews from blues legends BB King and Solomon Burke, an Irish roadie, a promoter, Tony Palmer, who filmed Cream’s 1968 farewell concert, and other friends and acquaintances. A bonus CD captures a smouldering 1967 performance from Sweden in pristine sound but alas runs only 25 minutes. For once, a DVD package lives up to the calibre of the band. (Justin Time/Image)