Wheels of Fire

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Wheels of Fire
Studio album / Live album by
Released9 August 1968 (1968-08-09)
VenueWinterland & The Fillmore, San Francisco, California
ProducerFelix Pappalardi
Cream chronology
Disraeli Gears
Wheels of Fire
Singles from Wheels of Fire
  1. "White Room"
    Released: November 1968
  2. "Crossroads"
    Released: January 1969
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[2]
About.com5/5 stars[3]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[4]
MusicHound5/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone(Positive)[6]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[7]
The Daily VaultA[9]

Wheels of Fire is the third album by the British rock band Cream. It was released in August 1968 as a two-disc vinyl LP, with one disc recorded in the studio and the other recorded live. It reached number three in the United Kingdom and number one in the United States, Canada and Australia, becoming the world's first platinum-selling double album.[10][11][user-generated source?] In May 2012, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at number 205 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[12]

It was voted number 757 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).[13]

It was also released as two single LPs, Wheels of Fire (In the Studio) and Wheels of Fire (Live at the Fillmore), released together with similar cover art. In the UK the studio album art was black print on aluminium foil while the live album art was a negative image of the studio cover. In Japan, the studio album art was black on gold foil, while the live album art was black on aluminium foil. In Australia, both covers were laminated copies of the Japanese releases.


Cream's third album was planned to be a double album on which Atco Records' producer Felix Pappalardi and the group would include several live performances.[14] Unlike Disraeli Gears, which had been recorded in a matter of days, the Wheels of Fire sessions took place in small bursts over a large number of months. The group and Pappalardi had, in July and August 1967, recorded studio material at IBC Studios in London.[1] Recordings continued with short sessions at Atlantic Studios in September, October, and December 1967. Further work took place at Atlantic in February 1968, during a break from the band's heavy tour schedule.[1][14] The following month,[1] Pappalardi ordered that a mobile recording studio in Los Angeles be shipped to the Fillmore Auditorium and the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.[14] Six shows were recorded in San Francisco by Pappalardi and recording engineer Bill Halverson,[1] and extra performances not included on Wheels of Fire ended up on Live Cream and Live Cream Volume II.[14] Studio recordings and mixing for the album were completed in June 1968, nearly a year after they had started.

Production and artwork[edit]

The recording engineers on disc one were Tom Dowd and Adrian Barber, the songs on disc two were recorded by Bill Halverson, and the performances on the second disc were mixed by Adrian Barber. The artwork for the album was by Martin Sharp[1] who had also done the artwork for Disraeli Gears. The photography was by Jim Marshall.[1]


The band's drummer Ginger Baker co-wrote three songs for the album with pianist Mike Taylor. Bassist Jack Bruce, meanwhile, co-wrote four songs with poet Pete Brown. Guitarist Eric Clapton contributed to the album by choosing two blues songs to cover.

For the second disc, Felix Pappalardi chose "Traintime" because it featured Jack Bruce's singing and harmonica playing, and "Toad" because it featured Ginger Baker's lengthy drum solo, while "Spoonful" and "Crossroads" were used to showcase Eric Clapton's guitar playing.[14]

Track listing[edit]

Disc one: In the Studio

Side one
1."White Room" (Jack Bruce, Pete Brown 3)4:58
2."Sitting on Top of the World" (Walter Vinson, Lonnie Chatmon; arr. Chester Burnett)4:58
3."Passing the Time" (Ginger Baker, Mike Taylor 1 3)4:31
4."As You Said" (Bruce, Brown)4:20
Total length:18:47
Side two
1."Pressed Rat and Warthog" (Baker, Taylor)3:13
2."Politician" (Bruce, Brown 3)4:12
3."Those Were the Days" (3 Baker, Taylor)2:53
4."Born Under a Bad Sign" (Booker T. Jones, William Bell 3)3:09
5."Deserted Cities of the Heart" (Bruce, Brown 2 3)3:38
Total length:17:05

Disc two: Live at the Fillmore

Side three
No.TitleRecording dateLength
1."Crossroads" (Robert Johnson, arr. Clapton)10 March 1968 at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA (1st show)4:13
2."Spoonful" (Willie Dixon)10 March 1968 at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA (1st show)16:43
Total length:20:56
Side four
No.TitleRecording dateLength
1."Traintime" (Bruce 4)8 March 1968 at Winterland, San Francisco, CA (1st show)7:01
2."Toad" (Baker)7 March 1968 at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA (2nd show)16:15
Total length:23:16

Performers on disc one are "the Cream quartet" consisting of Clapton, Baker, and Bruce together with Felix Pappalardi, who plays many different instruments and is also credited with production.

^Note 1: Some pressings of this album contain a longer version of "Passing the Time". The "long version" is extended by one minute and 13 seconds, and was included on the gold CD issued by DCC Compact Classics. An "extended version" included on Those Were the Days is an additional seven seconds longer.

^Note 2: Original U.S. pressings of Wheels of Fire incorrectly listed the running time of "Deserted Cities of the Heart" at 4:36.

^Note 3: Some songs on the studio album were processed with the Haeco-CSG system. Also processed was "Anyone for Tennis", which was released as a single. Haeco-CSG was intended to make stereo recordings that were compatible with mono playback but has the unfortunate side effect of "blurring" the phantom centre channel. On Wheels of Fire this side effect is particularly noticeable during Eric Clapton's guitar solo on "Deserted Cities of the Heart".

^Note 4: Original album pressings list "John Group" as the author of "Traintime". The "John Group" appellation dates back to Jack Bruce's tenure with the Graham Bond Organisation (with whom Bruce originally recorded the song in 1965) and was used by that band to ensure that members other than Bond received songwriting royalties.[15] The song is based on a vintage blues by Peter Chatman.

While the disc is labelled Live at the Fillmore, "Traintime" was recorded at Winterland. The other tracks were recorded live at the Winterland Ballroom.[16]

In 2014, Japan Polydor released a two-disc limited edition SHM-CD (UICY-76024/5) with four bonus tracks: two on the studio disc, and two on the live one.

2014 Japan Polydor 2-disc Limited Edition bonus tracks[edit]

Disc one[edit]

  1. "Anyone For Tennis" (Eric Clapton, Martin Sharp)
  2. "Falstaff Beer Commercial" (Clapton, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce)

Disc two[edit]

  1. "Sunshine of Your Love" (Clapton, Bruce, Pete Brown)
  2. "N.S.U." (Bruce)


Per liner notes[1]

Personnel and information for the studio sessions[edit]

"White Room" Recorded at IBC Studios, July and August 1967; Atlantic Studios, September, 9–10 October, and 12–15 December 1967; 13–22 February and 12–13 June 1968[17][18]

"Sitting on Top of the World" Recorded at IBC Studios, July 1967; Atlantic Studios, September 1967

  • Eric Clapton – lead and rhythm guitars
  • Jack Bruce – vocals, bass
  • Ginger Baker – drums

"Born Under a Bad Sign" Recorded at IBC Studios, July and August 1967; Atlantic Studios, September 1967

  • Eric Clapton - lead and rhythm guitars
  • Jack Bruce - vocals, bass
  • Ginger Baker – drums, tambourine

"Pressed Rat and Warthog" Recorded at Atlantic Studios, 9–10 October and 12–15 December 1967; 13–22 February 1968

  • Eric Clapton – lead and rhythm guitars
  • Jack Bruce – basses, recorder
  • Ginger Baker – spoken-word vocals, drums
  • Felix Pappalardi – trumpet, tonette

"Anyone For Tennis" Recorded at Atlantic Studios, 9–10 October and 12–15 December 1967; 13–22 February 1968

  • Eric Clapton - vocals, acoustic guitar, slide guitar
  • Jack Bruce - bass, recorder
  • Ginger Baker - congas
  • Felix Pappalardi - viola

"Passing the Time" Recorded at Atlantic Studios, 13–22 February and 12–13 June 1968

  • Eric Clapton – backing vocals, lead and rhythm guitars
  • Jack Bruce – lead vocals, bass, cello, calliope
  • Ginger Baker – backing vocals, drums, glockenspiel
  • Felix Pappalardi – organ pedals

"As You Said" Recorded at Atlantic Studios, 13–22 February and 12–13 June 1968

  • Jack Bruce – vocals, acoustic guitars, cello
  • Ginger Baker – hi-hat

"Politician" Recorded at Atlantic Studios, 13–22 February and 12–13 June 1968

  • Eric Clapton – lead and rhythm guitars
  • Jack Bruce – vocals, bass
  • Ginger Baker – drums

"Deserted Cities of the Heart" Recorded at Atlantic Studios, 13–22 February and 12–13 June 1968

  • Eric Clapton – lead and rhythm guitar
  • Jack Bruce – vocals, bass, cello, acoustic guitar
  • Ginger Baker – drums, tambourine
  • Felix Pappalardi – viola

"Those Were the Days" Recorded at Atlantic Studios, 12–13 June 1968

  • Eric Clapton – backing vocals, lead and rhythm guitars
  • Jack Bruce – lead vocals, bass
  • Ginger Baker – drums, marimba, tubular bells
  • Felix Pappalardi – Swiss hand bells

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Wheels of Fire (Billboard 6 July 1968). Cream. United States: Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1968.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ "Wheels of Fire". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  3. ^ "History of Cream". about.com. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2013). "Cream: Albums". The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Random House. eBook. ISBN 978-1448132744.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 January 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone.
  7. ^ "It's A Roller-coaster Career From Blues To Pop And Back".
  8. ^ "Wheels of Fire - Product Reviews - Musician". cduniverse.com. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  9. ^ Bowling, David (2019). "The Daily Vault Music Reviews: Wheels of Fire". dailyvault.com. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  10. ^ Shirese Franklin (6 October 2019). "Cream - British Rock Group". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Cream – the Band". h2g2. 20 September 2000.
  12. ^ "News". Rolling Stone.
  13. ^ Colin Larkin (2006). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 240. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  14. ^ a b c d e Schumacher, Michael (1995). "Chapter 4: Power Trio (1966–68)". Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton (1st ed.). New York City: Hyperion. pp. 96–100, 102. ISBN 0-7868-6074-X.
  15. ^ Liner notes to the CD version of the Graham Bond Organisation's The Sound of '65/There's a Bond Between Us, BGO Records, catalogue no. BGOCD500, released in the UK 1999.
  16. ^ The Very Best of Cream (liner notes).
  17. ^ "Recording Sessions (1966-1993)". Jack Bruce.com.
  18. ^ "Gig List". Jack Bruce.com.
  19. ^ Kent, David. Australian Chart Book 1940–1969. ISBN 0-646-44439-5.
  20. ^ "RPM – Item Display: Top Albums/CDs – Volume 10, No. 7, October 14, 1968". Library and Archives Canada. 31 March 2004. Archived from the original (.Php) on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Top Stranih [Top Foreign]" (in Croatian). Top Foreign Albums. Hrvatska diskografska udruga. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  22. ^ "Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > "Cream" > "Ok". InfoDisc.fr. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  24. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Cream – Wheels of Fire". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  25. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive: 14th September 1968". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  26. ^ "Top LP's". Billboard Magazine: 57. 10 August 1968.
  27. ^ "Wheels of Fire – Cream – Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  28. ^ "Australian Fun Countdowns: Accreditation Awards". Warner Music Sales International. BMI Music International. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  29. ^ Made A Rock Culture. Billboard Magazine. 16 November 1968. p. 1. Retrieved 19 September 2015. Cream Gold Records.
  30. ^ "Facebook Pictures for Cream – Band". Facebook. Retrieved 15 July 2015. It was the first platinum selling double album, and worthy of its inclusion in uDiscover's list of their favourite double albums.

External links[edit]