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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – April 1976 (Volume 7, Number 11) 

Lester Bangs interviewed Jimi Hendrix from the afterworld in the April 1976 issue of Creem. Lester was having fun with the concept (“Jimi” on Janis Joplin, “I was hoping you weren’t going to ask me that. Jeez, you fucking journalists, always looking for the next lurid headline”). Primarily, the intent of the piece is demythification, with “Jimi” criticizing his the “coldness” of his albums and making statements like, “The songs I wrote that had actual melodies, that you could hum or have a real zinger cover, can be counted on one hand.”  

Bangs also wrote an extended piece on Bob Dylan, criticizing his “protest” songs as being calculated socially conscious opportunism and he was particularly disturbed by the song “Joey” from the 1976 “Desire” album. In short, Lester felt that it was inexcusable (“One of the most mindlessly amoral pieces of repellently romanticist bullshit ever recorded”) to write such a sympathetic song about mobster/probable murderer Joe Gallo. Dylan would later distance himself from the lyrics, stating they were written by Jacques Levy. Plausible deniability can be your best friend in any moral tight spot. 

Features: 

“Death May Be Your Santa Claus,” by Lester Bangs (a posthumous “interview” with Jimi Hendrix) 

“Leslie West on Stickballs, Gutterballs, Jackie Kennedy, Amos ‘n’ Andy and Torch Guitar,” by Clyde Hadlock 

“EltonSchaung: Computer Readout? A View from the Sidelines,” by Ed Ward 

“Beatles Confidential,” by Tony Tyler 

“BTO: Band for a Bland New World,” by Dave Hickey 

“Bob Dylan’s Dalliance with Mafia Chic,” by Lester Bangs 

As far as I can recall, this is the first issue of Creem to include a piece by Dave Hickey. Hickey worked in rock criticism in the 1970s, was later name checked in a Terry Allen song “Amarillo Highway (for Dave Hickey),” and became a significant voice in art criticism while working in academia. Hickey’s take on Bachman-Turner Overdrive was that they had perfected the art of not being abnormal.  

Tony Tyler’s cover story on the Beatles is a series of small anecdotes about the band before they became famous. Many of them involve John Lennon behaving badly. Ed Ward examined his personal history with Elton John’s music, which he categorized as having “neutered passion.”

Additionally, Stevie Nicks looks somewhat unrecognizable as the Creem Dreem with red, unpermed hair. Based upon the typo in the magazine, it might have actually been her twin sister “Stevie Nix.”  

Quotable Quotes:   

Patti Smith on Bruce Springsteen, “He came from North Jersey and I came from the ghetto part (South Jersey) and we were a LOT tougher than Bruce. I had my own gang of guys and we used to eat guys like HIM for breakfast.” 

Lester Bangs as Jimi Hendrix, “My music was at least 70% white, if I’d played what black people wanted to hear at that time I’d been spectacularly unsuccessful in the hip rock superstar world, and if I’d gone down to the Apollo Theatre and played what I played at the Fillmore I probably woulda been laughed off the stage.” 

Ed Ward, “You will, I believe, never hear an Elton John song whose words and music blend together into something extraordinarily more beautiful than the sum of its parts, something so perfectly whole and immediate and expressive that it remains with you forever…If Elton John is the best thing on the radio, maybe you stop listening to the radio.” 

Dave Hickey on BTO, “These guys like to sit around and shoot the breeze, drink Coke and Fresca and play rock and roll. They’re so fucking obvious you’d be better off analyzing a stop sign.” 

Lester Bangs on David Bowie’s “Station to Station” album, “I think that Bowie has finally produced his (first) masterpiece…Bowie has dropped his pretentions, or most of them at any rate, and in doing that I believe he’s finally become an artist instead of a poseur.” 

Summary: The Lester Bangs piece is unusually long and almost serves as a condensed biography of Joey Gallo. I’ve never really wanted to read a condensed biography about Joey Gallo, but that’s still preferable to an eleven-minute song about the man. 

Grade: B 

Latest price on eBay: 16.00 to “Buy It Now.” 

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