While their first album, Fresh Cream, delighted critics and the select few who were in rock’s then-vanguard, it was Cream’s second album, Disraeli Gears, that really propelled them to worldwide fame. Backed by the powerhouse single, “Sunshine of Your Love,” the album reached the Top 10 in the band’s native UK, the US, Australia, Finland and other countries. It sold so well that Cashbox magazine named it the top-selling LP of 1968.
It didn’t hurt that the psychedelic artwork and hot day-glo pink cover caught record-buyers’ eyes rather easily in those days.
The album was recorded in the US After the band had wrapped up their first American tour. They used Felix Pappalardi, who also contributed two songs he had written with his wife: “Strange Brew” and “World of Pain.” Atlantic Records president, Ahmet Ertegun was also in attendance for the sessions which took a mere three days! There’s a reason the band laid down those tracks so quickly. Their U.S. visas expired the same day they wrapped up production.
Besides the hit single, “Strange Brew,” “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” “SWLABR” (which co-composer & band member Jack Bruce says stands for “She Was Like a Bearded Rainbow”) and most of the other tracks got significant airplay on the then-emerging FM ‘underground’ rock stations that were springing up in America’s major radio markets.
If you’ve always wondered what the title meant, drummer Ginger Baker says it came from one of their roadies who was talking about buying a racing bike and totally mangled the phrase for a part of the bike: derailleur gears in front of Baker and fellow band member Eric Clapton. The two thought it was hilarious and that’s how it became the name of one of rock’s greatest albums. In 1999, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.