5 Classic Cream Tunes Featuring and Co-Written by Late Singer/Bassist Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce, the supremely talented bassist and singer best-known as one third of the British supergroup Cream, would’ve celebrated his 81st birthday on May 14, 2024. The Scottish musician died of liver failure in October 2014 at age 71.

Videos by American Songwriter

Thanks mainly to his work with Cream, Bruce was a major influential on many other respected rock bassists, including Rush’s Geddy Lee, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, Yes’ Chris Squire, and Mountain’s Felix Pappalardi.

[RELATED: Behind the Slightly Arrogant Band Name: Cream]

Prior to Cream, Bruce played in a number of respected British blues outfits, including The Graham Bond Organization and, briefly, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. The former group also featured drummer Ginger Baker, while the latter included guitarist Eric Clapton.

In 1966, Bruce was asked to join the band Clapton and Baker were forming, although Jack and Ginger had a notoriously contentious relationship. The group was christened, a nod to the perception that its members were the cream of the U.K.’s blues and jazz scene. Bruce became the band’s principal lead singer and songwriter, frequently collaborating lyricist Pete Brown.

Cream released four albums before breaking up in 1969. Bruce’s contributions to the group remain some of the trio’s most enduring tunes. In honor of Bruce’s birthday, here are five standout Cream songs he sang and co-wrote:

“Wrapping Paper” (1966)

“Wrapping Paper” was Cream’s debut single, released in the U.K. in October 1966. The song, which Bruce co-wrote with Brown, has an old-timey jazz feel.

“Wrapping Paper” peaked at No. 34 on the U.K. charts. The track was never released on a Cream studio album. It later appeared on a number of compilations, including The Very Best of Cream (1995).

“I Feel Free” (1966)

“I Feel Free” was Cream’s second single, released in December 1966 in the U.K., where it reached No. 11. The song also was included on the U.S. version of the band’s debut album, Fresh Cream, which was issued in January 1967.

Another Bruce-Brown co-write, the song features soaring, melodic verses, and a heavier, more-aggressive chorus.

“Sunshine of Your Love” (1967)

One of Cream’s signature songs, “Sunshine of Your Love” was co-written by Bruce, Clapton, and Brown. The psychedelic-blues tune features memorable bass riff from Bruce, who shares lead vocals with Clapton.

The song was featured on Cream’s classic second studio album, Disraeli Gears. “Sunshine of Your Love” was Cream’s first and biggest hit in the U.S., peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“SWLABR” (1967)

“SWLABR” also was featured on Disraeli Gears, and was released as the B-side of the “Sunshine of Your Love” single. The song was co-written by Bruce and Brown, and its title stands for “She Was Like a Bearded Rainbow.” That phrase never appears in the song, though.

In a 2017 interview with Songfacts, Brown explained that he wrote the lyrics about a guy who had been dumped by his girlfriend and is defacing photos of her by drawing mustaches on them.

“White Room” (1968)

Another of Cream’s signature songs, “White Room” was the lead track from the group’s third album, Wheels of Fire. The heavy psychedelic tune, which was co-written by Bruce and Brown, reached No. 6 on the Hot 100. Wheels of Fire, meanwhile, topped the Billboard 200 for four weeks in August 1968.

Brown told Songfacts that the lyrics were inspired by an empty apartment where he spent time contemplating the issues he was struggling with in his life.

“It’s a place where I stopped, I gave up all drugs and alcohol at that time in 1967 as a result of being in the white room,” he explained. “So it was a kind of watershed period.”

Bruce recorded new versions of “White Room” and “Sunshine of Your Love” for his 2001 solo album, Shadows in the Air. Clapton also contributed to both tracks.

Leave a Reply

CMA Fest

CMA Fest Announces More Artists Added to Star-Studded Lineup