Wheels of Fire
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Wheels of Fire

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, becoming the world's first platinum-selling double album.[10][user-generated source?] In May 2012, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 205 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[11]

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 aluminum 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 aluminum foil. In Australia, both covers were laminated copies of the Japanese releases (the double album was never released in Australia).


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.[12] The group and Pappalardi had, in July and August 1967, recorded studio material at IBC Studios in London, and at Atlantic Studios in New York City during September and October of the same year.[1] Additional studio material was recorded at Atlantic Studios in January and February 1968, during a break from the band's heavy tour schedule.[1][12] The following month,[1] Pappalardi ordered for a mobile recording studio in Los Angeles to be shipped to the Fillmore Auditorium and the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.[12] 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.[12]

Production and artwork

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 co-wrote four songs with poet Pete Brown. Guitarist Eric Clapton contributed to the album by choosing two older blues songs.

For the second disc, Felix Pappalardi chose "Traintime" because it featured Jack Bruce performing a harmonica solo, and "Toad" because it features Ginger Baker's drumming while "Spoonful" and "Crossroads" were used to showcase Eric Clapton's guitar playing.[12]

Track listing

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 13)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 23)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 Winterland, San Francisco, CA. (1st show)4:13
2."Spoonful" (Willie Dixon)10 March 1968 at Winterland, 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 a 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 7 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 center channel.

^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.[13] The song is based on a vintage blues by Peter Chatman.

While the disc is labeled Live at the Fillmore, only "Toad" was recorded at The Fillmore. The other tracks were recorded live at the Winterland Ballroom.[14]

In 2014 Japan Polydor released a 2-disc Limited Edition SHM-CD (UICY-76024/5) with 4 Bonus tracks - Two each on the Studio and Live discs.

2014 Japan Polydor 2-disc Limited Edition bonus tracks

Disc one

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

Disc two

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


Per liner notes[1]

Personnel for the studio recordings

"White Room"

"Sitting on Top of the World"

  • Clapton - Gibson SG Standard "the Fool" for both backing tracks and lead guitar (riffs and solo)
  • Bruce - bass, vocals
  • Baker - drums

"Passing the Time"

"As You Said"

  • Bruce - acoustic guitar, vocals, cello
  • Baker - hi-hat

"Pressed Rat and Warthog"


  • Clapton - guitars (Gibson SG Standard Fool & Gibson Reverse Firebird) backing track, three lead guitars including overdubs
  • Bruce - bass, vocals
  • Baker - drums

"Those Were the Days"

  • Clapton - guitars, Gibson SG standard ("Fool") & Gibson backing track, lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Bruce - bass, lead vocals
  • Baker - drums, marimba, tubular bells, backing vocals
  • Pappalardi - Swiss hand bells

"Born Under a Bad Sign"

  • Bruce - bass, vocals
  • Clapton - guitars (Gibson SG standard ("Fool") backing track and lead guitar
  • Baker - drums, tambourine

"Deserted Cities of the Heart"

  • Clapton - guitars Gibson Reverse Firebird & Gibson SG Standard ("Fool") backing track and lead guitar
  • Bruce - bass, vocals, cello, acoustic guitar
  • Baker - drums, tambourine
  • Pappalardi - viola

Charts and certifications


  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 2013.
  3. ^ "History of Cream". about.com. Retrieved 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 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 2018.
  9. ^ Bowling, David (2019). "The Daily Vault Music Reviews : Wheels of Fire". dailyvault.com. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ "Cream - the Band". h2g2. 20 September 2000.
  11. ^ "News". Rolling Stone.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Liner notes to the CD version of the Graham Bond Organisation's The Sound of '65/There's a Bond Between Us, BGO Records, catalog no. BGOCD500, released in the UK 1999.
  14. ^ The Very Best of Cream (liner notes).
  15. ^ Kent, David. Australian Chart Book 1940-1969. ISBN 0-646-44439-5.
  16. ^ "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 2015.
  17. ^ "Top Stranih [Top Foreign]" (in Croatian). Top Foreign Albums. Hrvatska diskografska udruga. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  18. ^ "Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > "Cream" > "Ok". InfoDisc.fr. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  19. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  20. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com - Cream - Wheels of Fire". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  21. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive: 14th September 1968". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 2015.
  22. ^ "Top LP's". Billboard Magazine: 57. 10 August 1968.
  23. ^ "Wheels of Fire - Cream - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015.
  24. ^ "Australian Fun Countdowns: Accreditation Awards". Warner Music Sales International. BMI Music International. Retrieved 2015.
  25. ^ "Made A Rock Culture". Billboard Magazine. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 16 November 1968. Retrieved 2015.
  26. ^ "Facebook Pictues for Cream - Band". Facebook. Retrieved 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

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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