Fresh Cream and the Top 10 Power Trios of All Time

Fresh Cream and the Top 10 Power Trios of All Time

Forty-six years ago this week, British blues-rockers Cream unveiled their debut album, Fresh Cream, one of the most deeply influential rock and roll records of all time.

The original supergroup, the band was intended to unite the "cream" of the late-'60s British blues scene, featuring Eric Clapton on guitar, Ginger Baker on drums and Jack Bruce on bass. Each was already a rock star in his own right across the pond, and the release of Fresh Cream helped mightily to shove the genre in a thunderous new direction.

Though thoroughly steeped in the blues, Fresh Cream (and the material that would follow) was heavier and more psychedelic than Robert Johnson's most hellish nightmares. Powered by Baker's explosive pounding and the most deafening amplifiers of the day, Cream pioneered a stomping, virtuosic and unabashedly loud version of rock that would go on to inform the histrionic wailing of early metal bands including Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

It wasn't just volume that set Fresh Cream apart, though. Cream was envisioned as an egalitarian collaboration, and the band's inventiveness was nonetheless fueled in large part by the spirit of competition between its members -- not to mention the endless quarreling between Baker and Bruce.

With each musician apparently convinced he was the band's leader (and star), Cream proved that three guys could produce an electric sound powerful enough to blow away practically everything that had come before. A new term -- "power trio" -- had to be coined to capture the triangulated crunch.

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The first imitators appeared in a matter of months -- some of whom are rightly considered among the greatest rock bands of all time to this day. One guitar, one bass and one set of drums: Suddenly, musicians realized that was all that was needed to produce ear-shattering rock and roll. The same instrumentation that Cream deployed during its brief two-year run is still in use by leading practitioners of the genre, nearly 50 years later.

In honor of the original power trio's recorded debut, Rocks Off has compiled a comprehensive list of the most earth-shaking three-pieces ever to blow out an amp. Crack those knuckles and tease out that perm, because it's about to get loud in here.


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