Musician (12/92, p.100) - "...Cream is the greatest power trio in rock history...These recordings remain the pinnacle of all three careers [Clapton, Bruce & Baker]...Finally remastered in a way that lets you hear why..."
Cream: Jack Bruce (vocals, guitar, cello, recorder, harmonica, bass, calliope); Eric Clapton (vocals, guitar); Ginger Baker (vocals, glockenspiel, marimba, drums, tympani, tubular bells).
Additional personnel: Felix Pappalardi (viola, organ pedals, trumpet, tonette, Swiss hand bells, tambourine).
Engineers: Adrian Barber, Bill Halverson, Tom Dowd.
Recorded at IBC Studios, London, England in July-August of 1967; Atlantic Studios, New York, New York from September 1967 to June 1968; The Fillmore West, San Francisco, California on March 7, 1968; Winterland, San Francisco, California on March 8-10, 1968.
Originally released as a 2-LP set, half live, half studio recordings.
When Cream released WHEELS OF FIRE, they had established themselves as the premier blues-rock band due to the success of their first two albums and the extraordinary chemistry between the band's members. As a result of this synergy, Cream also enjoyed a fiery live reputation. This double album represents both sides of Cream's musical personality. The first record is a studio job, where the band mixes originals with covers of Howlin' Wolf ("Sitting on Top of the World") and Albert King ("Born Under a Bad Sign"). The songs written by the band all contain unique touches. "As You Said" finds Jack Bruce swapping his bass for a cello, "Pressed Rat and Warthog" sounds like an English folk tale courtesy of Ginger Baker's clipped recitation and the inclusion of baroque horns, and the classic "White Room" overflows with waves of Eric Clapton's wah-wah-drenched guitar.
The second record was recorded over a four-day span at San Francisco's Winterland and Fillmore West. Extended versions of "Toad" and Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" demonstrate the band's intricate interplay, but most impressive is a blistering reading of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," in which all three members seem to be soloing simultaneously in a jaw-dropping display of fury and bravado.