State Fair Music Hall 1968 (Speak-Ezy SPE-33068)
State Fair Music Hall, Dallas, TX, USA – March 30, 1968
Original Mix Remaster
Disc 1 (56:45) Sunshine Of Your Love, I’m So Glad, Sitting On Top Of The World, Steppin’ Out, Train Time, Toad
Disc 2 (56:45) Sunshine Of Your Love, I’m So Glad, Sitting On Top Of The World, Steppin’ Out, Train Time, Toad
In their search for long lost live recordings of Led Zeppelin, the collective known as The Dogs Of Doom unearthed a previously unknown recording of Cream from Dallas, Texas on March 30, 1968. There is little information about the tape or the person who recorded it, just that the master reel was used for the transfer. An unknown Cream recording is certainly welcomed by the collectors community and there soon was three ways to add this recording to your collection, State Fair In Texas 1968 (Breakdown-808) is a CD-R title, Texas 1968 The Legendary Supergroup (Moonchild Records), and this release by the Speak-Ezy label.
The sound is good yet the volume of the band overloads the tape machine and thus leads to distortion. That being said the vocals and instruments can be easily distinguished in the soundscape, although the vocals are just a tad low. The overloading and distortion does actually add to the power of the performances in a weird way. If the distortion was a little bit less, this recording would easily fall into the very good range. There was a tape cut after Steppin’ Out and the quality drops a tad for Traintime and Toad, it has a more distant yet less distorted sound. The Speak-Ezy has opted to release a two disc version of this recording, the first disc is based upon the original recording. The only real work was to bring up the sound volume a little during Traintime. The second disc has the label trying to better the stereo separation and make for more even sound. I must confess I find the second disc a bit hard on the ears and in my opinion the first disc is the better of the two.
This recording is certainly not the complete show, based upon setlists of known recordings from March 1968 Tales Of Brave Ulysses was the opening number. Sunshine Of Your Love is tremendous, they lock in and just play the hell out of this song, this first nine minutes is exasperatingly great. The furious playing continues with an incredibly rousing version of I’m So Glad, 18 minutes into this recording is more powerful than most everything on the entire Goodbye Tour 1968 official box set. The three musicians are completely locked in, Ginger Baker is just incredibly powerful, he cannot be touched.
The distortion is lessened just a tad for Sitting On Top Of The World and Steppin’ Out, the former is a rather compact version clocking in at just under six minutes, I liken it to the calm between storms. Steppin’ Out is just a full on jam with Mr. Clapton gushing out a steady fury of leads while Ginger keeps up with a marching beat that keeps all in step. It’s amazing to listen to Clapton endlessly solo for near twelve minutes never losing his inspiration yet it does get a tad self indulgent, it is this indulgence that is the true flavour of the Cream, without it they would have been just another band.
After a brief tape cut the band plays Traintime, the Jack Bruce jam is in contrast to Clapton’s lead guitar filled excess, this is Bruce’s harmonica drum jam that gives light to his talents, he blows some serious uptempo harp. The Ginger Baker fueled song Toad takes up the last fourteen minutes of the recording. As soon as Bruce and Clapton finish their parts and the spotlight is solely on Baker there is a huge ovation for the drummer, obviously the audience know what to expect from the Wheels Of Fire live disc and they are not disappointed, in fact they are totally into it. They follow Ginger at every turn and can be heard clapping and cheering him on, the master percussionist has no problem keeping the audience’s attention, or listener to that fact. When the others join back in at the end the ovation is so loud it nearly overtakes the music, a rousing end to a brilliantly played concert.
The packaging is typical for Speak-Ezy, inserts with live shots of Cream, pictures on the CDs as well. This is an excellent performance by Cream, full of fire and fury but the sound quality will keep this away from the casual collector. I was able to buy this title at a reasonable price, that being said the second disc remaster is not needed, if you are going to remaster the tape it should be better and to my ears it is not. If this was a single CD it would be a much stronger release.