Merry Christmas, all. The kids and wife have gone down south and I'm up here in LA, lonely so I did something I hadn't done in a long time: Listened to the rock favorites of my youth, on my best Audio Note UK system. I felt like hearing some Cream and when I do, I always pull out this old CD that probably is out there for 50 cents now. It's called "CREAM: The Very Best Of Cream" on the label and on the spine it's called "STRANGE BREW - THE very BEST of CREAM." Of course this was an early 1980s LP comp. that was converted to CD in the late 1980's I guess. It's Polydor Made in USA 811639-2. I bought it at CD Banzi in LA back in the day. It was the first "natural" sounding Cream CD out there. Mastered by our old "good sound buddy" Dennis Drake. And here is the kicker, Bill Levenson told me that Dennis did what I would have done, go back to the original album tracks instead of using a tape Greatest Hits dub. It has NO actual mastering compression, just correct levels, correct playback bandwidth. Really, the sound will never win any awards but you can (on a really good system) clearly hear what is meant to be heard and you don't need a pair of old Altecs either. Now, I'm sure these songs have been remastered many times since then (some even by me) but the tricky 150-400 cycle range of Jack Bruce's bass is left "as is" here and now I find that pleasing, since I have a system that can truly play it back with total accuracy. I find the sound charming, dated but never harsh but almost lush on some songs. One thing I can clearly here on this disk, is that Jack Bruce's bass sound, which I used to find so annoying, is actually pleasing. His bass is NEVER going to sound deep or rich but it can be heard clearly and his weird (used to hate it) out of tune up the neck playing I really dig now. In fact, Old Jack seems to be playing slightly sharp on every song here. Listen to Sunshine or Badge. Yikes, SOOOO SHARPPPP! Nonetheless, I bet this is a used CD that NO ONE wants anymore so spend a few dollars and here these songs the way the tapes actually sound. If it drives you crazy, just EQ 'em up a bit. But I really dig this now. Remember, this is just sort of a sampler, it's missing several crucial songs (like STRANGE BREW, THOSE WERE THE DAYS, etc.) Track listing: BADGE SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE (full length album version) CROSSROADS (live, 4:13 concert length, same as the alt. takes) WHITE ROOM (Full length album version) BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN SWLABR STRANGE BREW SAVAGE SEVEN THEME (Anyone For Tennis) I FEEL FREE POLITICIAN TALES OF BRAVE ULYSEES SPOONFUL (Studio version). All songs stereo, mastered post "discovery" of original US Atlantic tapes so it's good to go. Grab a copy of this, make sure it's the DENNIS DRAKE mastered version. Don't get the GERMAN Polydor version or the RSO version by mistake. There is only one, this is it, from the right tapes, mastered (for me and other weirdos) the right way. Report back.