Cream documentaries: Beware of Mr. Baker and Jack Bruce: The Man Behind the Bass.

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Once upon a time there was a band called The Cream, so named because the trio’s members considered themselves the “cream” of the crop.

Of course, Eric Clapton has enjoyed a long career in the public eye. Far less Jack Bruce, Cream’s bassist and singer, and drummer Ginger Baker. By the time Richard Nixon took office, Cream was finished. The last reunion came in 2005, with shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall and Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Bruce died in 2014, and as Jay Bulger’s incredible documentary (above) attests, the fact that Baker is closing in on 80 years of age probably is more of a miracle than Keith Richards nearing 75.

‘Beware of Mr. Baker’: A Documentary about the Genius and Terror of Drummer Ginger Baker, by David Fricke (Rolling Stone; December 4, 2012)

The second-best rock documentary of the year, after the poignant comeback story Searching for Sugar Man, is that film’s wild opposite: a stranger-than-fiction portrait of the heroically talented, thoroughly misanthropic drummer Ginger Baker. Beware of Mr. Baker – directed by Jay Bulger and now playing at Film Forum in New York – covers the genius, terror and improbably long life of a man who hit the jackpot early, with Cream and Blind Faith, then repeatedly sabotaged his success, reputation and personal life with a hair-trigger temper, poor financial choices and a preference for drugs and exile over attachment and responsibility. The consequences dog him to this day.

For more on Bruce:

Jack Bruce: The Man Behind the Bass (BBC Two – ArtWorks Scotland)

The late Jack Bruce fronted the 1960s supergroup Cream alongside Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker and has played with everyone from Marvin Gaye to Jimi Hendrix and from Lulu to Lou Reed. ArtWorks Scotland tells the story of his life, from childhood in Scotland to global superstardom, through some of Jack’s favourite songs and with contributions from Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Flea of Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Adam Clayton of U2.

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