Disraeli Gears

Disraeli Gears is the second studio album by the British rock band Cream. It was released in November 1967[1] and went on to reach No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart.[2] It was also the group's American breakthrough, becoming a massive seller in 1968, and reaching No. 4 on the American charts.[3] 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.[4] 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."

Disraeli Gears
Studio album by
Released2 November 1967 (1967-11-02)
RecordedMay 1967
StudioAtlantic, New York City
GenrePsychedelic rock
ProducerFelix Pappalardi
Cream chronology
Fresh Cream
Disraeli Gears
Wheels of Fire
Singles from Disraeli Gears
  1. "Strange Brew" / "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
    Released: June 1967
  2. "Sunshine of Your Love" / "SWLABR"
    Released: December 1967

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.[5]

Original album

The album was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York during May 1967, following the band's nine shows as part of Murray the K's "Music in the 5th Dimension" concert series. Cream's American label, ATCO, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlantic Records.[6][7]

The sessions were produced by future Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi – who co-wrote the tracks "Strange Brew" and "World of Pain" with wife Gail Collins – and were engineered by Tom Dowd – who would later work with Clapton on projects such as Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and 461 Ocean Boulevard. Atlantic Records owner Ahmet Ertegun was also present during the sessions.[8]

According to Dowd the recording sessions took only three and a half days, a feat considering the length of the album. The band's visas expired on the very last day of recording.[9]

The original 11-track album was remastered by Joseph M. Palmaccio at PolyGram Studios[1] for a 1998 release, including bonus photographs accompanying the original album artwork.

Deluxe Edition

The "Disraeli Gears Deluxe Edition" includes the complete album in both mono and stereo, demos, alternative takes and tracks taken from the band's live sessions on BBC radio. Included is an outtake of "Blue Condition" with Eric Clapton on lead vocals and demos of the songs "Weird of Hermiston" and "The Clearout" which were not released until Jack Bruce's first solo album "Songs for a Tailor".


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 moustache.

The front cover consists of a psychedelic collage with the title centred and band name below, surrounded by a floral arrangement. Martin Sharp was attempting to capture the sound of the music in the cover, which he describes as a "warm fluorescent sound":[10]

I got hold of a publicity shot and cut it up, along with cutouts from various books, laid the pieces out and stuck them together as a collage on a 12-inch square. I did some drawing outlines, and then painted all over it with fluorescent inks and paints of the time. I really wanted to capture that warm, electric sound of their music in the colours and expression of the cover. On my way to England, I'd gone [to Cambodia]. And in one of the towns I visited, there were these amazing sculptures with faces on each side, and huge trees growing out on top… Over the years, these great trees had taken root and grown. I suppose I thought that was a bit like the band: where you could see three faces, and the music coming out of their heads.[11]

The cover art was later used for the compilation Those Were the Days.

Musical style

Disraeli Gears features the group veering away, quite heavily, from their blues roots and indulging in more psychedelic sounds, in particular on tracks such as "Tales of Brave Ulysses," "SWLABR," "World of Pain," and "Dance the Night Away," the latter of which features a 12-string guitar (the only time the instrument would be used on a Cream recording). The most blues-like tunes on the album are Clapton's arrangement of "Outside Woman Blues", the Bruce-Brown composition "Take it Back" which had been inspired by the contemporary media images of American students burning their draft cards which featured harmonica work by Jack Bruce,[12] and the opening track "Strange Brew" which was based on a 12-bar blues song called "Lawdy Mama" and featured an Albert King guitar solo, copied note for note.[8]

Unlike the previous Fresh Cream, which was vocally dominated by Bruce, the vocals on Disraeli Gears were a more democratic affair. Clapton sings lead on "Strange Brew" and "Outside Woman Blues" and co-lead on "World of Pain," "Dance the Night Away," and "Sunshine of Your Love." Baker, meanwhile, performs lead vocals on his composition "Blue Condition." All three band members sing together on "Mother's Lament."

In contrast to much of the band's other work, Disraeli Gears is composed mainly of short, self-contained songs, with none of the improvisation and jamming the band was known for onstage.


Professional ratings
Review scores
BBC MusicPositive[14]
Chicago Tribune[15]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[16]
Great Rock Discography[17]
Music Story[17]

Writing for the BBC, Chris Jones described the album as "a perfect encapsulation of the point where the blues got psychedelic and in turn got heavy".[14] Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic describes the album as "a quintessential heavy rock album of the '60s".[13] Dave Swanson of Ultimate Classic Rock believes the album to be "their masterpiece".[20]

In 1999, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[21]

It was voted number 182 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).[22] In 2003 the album was ranked No. 114 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[23] maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list.[24] VH1 also named it their 87th greatest album of all time in 2001.[25] In 2008, the album won a Classic Rock Roll of Honours Award for Classic Album.[26]

Track listing

Original album

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Strange Brew"Eric Clapton2:46
2."Sunshine of Your Love"Jack Bruce, with Clapton4:10
3."World of Pain"
  • Pappalardi
  • Collins
Clapton and Bruce3:03
4."Dance the Night Away"
  • Bruce
  • Brown
Clapton and Bruce3:34
5."Blue Condition"Ginger BakerGinger Baker3:29
Total length:17:02
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Tales of Brave Ulysses"
  • Bruce
  • Brown
3."We're Going Wrong"BruceBruce3:26
4."Outside Woman Blues"Arthur Reynolds, arr. ClaptonClapton2:24
5."Take It Back"
  • Bruce
  • Brown
6."Mother's Lament"Traditional, arr. Bruce, Clapton, BakerBaker, Clapton, and Bruce1:47
Total length:16:00

Disraeli Gears – deluxe edition (2004)

Disc one (stereo)

Original album
Tracks 1–11
  1. "Lawdy Mama" – version 1 3 (Traditional, arr. Clapton) – 2:00
Recorded 3 April 1967 at Atlantic Studios
Recorded by Ahmet Ertegun[8]
  1. "Blue Condition" – alternate version (Baker) – 3:13
Eric Clapton vocal, previously unreleased
Demos 3
  1. "We're Going Wrong" (Bruce) – 3:49
  2. "Hey Now, Princess" (Bruce, Brown) – 3:31
  3. "SWLABR" (Bruce, Brown) – 4:30
  4. "Weird of Hermiston" (Bruce, Brown) – 3:12
  5. "The Clearout" (Bruce, Brown) – 3:58
Recorded 15 March 1967 at Ryemuse Studios, London

Disc two (mono)

Original album and out-takes
Tracks 1–13
BBC recordings 4
  1. "Strange Brew" (Clapton, Pappalardi, Collins) – 3:00
  2. "Tales of Brave Ulysses" (Clapton, Sharp) – 2:55
  3. "We're Going Wrong" (Bruce) – 3:25
Recorded 30 May 1967, broadcast 3 June on BBC Light Programme
  1. "Born Under a Bad Sign" (Booker T. Jones, William Bell) – 3:03
  2. "Outside Woman Blues" (Reynolds) – 3:18
  3. "Take It Back" (Bruce, Brown) – 2:17
Recorded 24 October 1967, broadcast 29 October on BBC Radio 1
  1. "Politician" (Bruce, Brown) – 3:59
  2. "SWLABR" (Bruce, Brown) – 2:32
  3. "Steppin' Out" (James Bracken) – 3:37
Recorded 9 January 1968, broadcast 14 January on BBC Radio 1
  1. ^ Tracks previously released on the Those Were the Days box set.
  2. ^ Tracks previously released on the BBC Sessions compilation album.






Chart (1967) Peak
Finland (Finnish Albums Chart) 1
UK (Top 40 Albums)[2] 5
Norway (Top 40 Albums)[27] 16
Chart (1968) Peak
US Billboard 200[3] 4
US Cash Box Top 100 Pop Albums Year-End Chart[4] 1
Australia Australian Albums Chart (Kent Music Report) 1
Canada (Top 50 Albums)[28] 10
Chart (2010) Peak
Greece (Top 50 Albums)[29] 29


Year Single Position
Billboard Hot 100 UK Top 40[2]
June 1967 "Strange Brew"/"Tales of Brave Ulysses" - No. 17
October 1967 "Sunshine of Your Love"/"SWLABR" No. 5 No. 25


Region CertificationCertified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[30] Platinum 70,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[32] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history

Region Date Label Format Catalogue
United Kingdom November 1967 Reaction Records mono LP 593 003
stereo LP 594 003
United States November 1967 Atco Records mono LP 33-232
stereo LP SD 33-232
Germany November 1967 Polydor Records stereo LP 184 105
Japan May 1968 Polydor Records stereo LP MP-1390
United States 1977 RSO Records LP RS 1–3010
United States 1986 Polydor Records CD 823 636-2
United States 2004 Polydor Records/Chronciles Deluxe Edition CD B0003331-02
United Kingdom 2004 Polydor Records Deluxe Edition CD 0602498193129


  1. Disraeli Gears (CD liner). Cream. USA: Polydor Records. 1967. p. 2. 31453 1811-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. "UK Top 40 Hit Database". EveryHit.com. Search "Cream" in Name of Artist
  3. "Cream – Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  4. "Cashbox Countdowns". Cashboxcountdowns.com.
  5. "Disraeli Gears - a derailleur collection". Disraeligears.co.uk. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  6. "First US show for Cream and The Who that most fans don't know about." Songheads. 1 August 2009.
  7. "Eric Clapton Interview," on YouTube HOEPLA Television Show, VPRO Television, The Netherlands, 28 July 1967.
  8. Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 November 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. Platt, John (1998). Cream-Disraeli Gears : Classic Rock Albums. Schirmer Books. pp. 92–93. ISBN 0-8256-7176-0.
  11. "Sleevenotes – the inside story of a classic album cover", Classic Rock #56, August 2003, p8
  12. "Cream: Disraeli Gears", Classic Albums on VH1, 3 November 2006
  13. Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Disraeli Gears – Cream (Review)". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  14. Jones, Chris. "BBC - Music - Review of Cream - Disraeli Gears". Bbc.co.uk.
  15. "It's A Roller-coaster Career From Blues To Pop And Back". Articles.chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  16. "Acclaimed Music - Disraeli Gears". 8 June 2017. Archived from the original on 8 June 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  17. "Acclaimed Music". Acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  18. Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 288. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. "Review: Cream - Disraeli Gears - Sputnikmusic". Sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  20. "50 Years Ago: Cream Release Their Masterpiece, 'Disraeli Gears'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  21. "Eric Clapton". gRammy.com. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  22. Colin Larkin (2006). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 96. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  23. "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 18 November 2003. Retrieved 19 March 2009.
  24. "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  25. "Rock On The Net: VH1: 100 Greatest Albums". Rockonthenet.com. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. Steffen Hung. "Cream – Disraeli Gears". Norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  28. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  29. Steffen Hung. "Cream – Disraeli Gears". Greekcharts.com. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  30. "Australian Fun Countdowns: Accreditation Awards". Warner Music Sales International. BMI Music International. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  31. "British album certifications – Cream". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 17 September 2015. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Cream in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  32. "American album certifications – Cream". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 17 September 2015. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 


  • Cream, Disraeli Gears (1967)
  • Cream, Disraeli Gears – Deluxe Edition (2004)
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