Listen – Cream – N.S.U. – MP3
Sorry for the long absence, but if you’ve stopped by Funky16Corners recently you’ll know where I’ve been (i.e. hospitalized).
Right now, it’s the day after Christmas, I’m tired as hell, and just as bored, and oddly enough feeling unproductive (when I ought to be taking a nap of some kind), so here I sit at the laptop, tap tap tapping away.
I remember buying my first Cream record, at the Englishtown flea market more than 30 years ago, using a big chunk of my daily slave wages. It was the old ATCO Best of Cream (the one with the drawings of the vegetables on the cover), and I’m pretty sure that after I got it home I played ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ no less than 20 times in a row.
It was a long time before I picked up any of the group’s full LPs (might even have been as late as the dawn of the CD era), and when I did I was blown away by the more psyched out album tracks, most of which I’d never heard before. My favorite among these was today’s selection, ‘N.S.U.’.
One of the things I always dug about Cream was their knack for taking the dramatic nature of a tune and amplifying it to the extreme, whether via Clapton’s fuzzed out lead, Ginger Baker’s Neolithic pounding or Jack Bruce’s just up to the point of being overwrought vocals (not too far off from Marty Balin’s efforts with the Jefferson Airplane).
The band’s 1966 debut ‘Fresh Cream’ is still my favorite, with a mix of Bruce’s originals and their amped up reworkings of old blues material.
‘N.S.U.’ (not sure what Bruce meant by the title, unless he’d just been to his urologist) is a wild ride, opening with an odd rhythmic counterpoint of Clapton and Baker and Bruce singing (a la Jacques Dutronc) dryly about the life of the spoiled rock star, thing take a sudden turn, sounding as if the band was recording on a roller coaster. They draw you in as you tick toward the crest of the hill, and as you go over the top, you (not surprisingly) go over the top, right under Bruce’s bugged out eyes, past his teeth and right down his windpipe in an explosion of LSD, Nut Brown Ale and his own unique brand of musical hysteria. It’s worth hanging on until the end.
I’ll be back for New Years with the year-end wrap up.