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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – August 1973 (Volume 5, Number 3)  

“Mirror image, see no damage/See no evil at all/Kewpie dolls and urine stalls will be laughed at/The way you’re laughed at now,” “Androgynous,” by the Replacements  

The cover story of the August 1973 issue of Creem is a look at “Androgyny in Rock,” from 1950s rockers like Elvis, Jerry Lee, and Little Richard through the glam era of David Bowie, Marc Bolan, and Lou Reed. While American audiences have always looked sideways at rockers with feminine characteristics (before Elvis found fame, one of my father’s friends saw him in a small club and suggested that he should be beaten for “shaking like a queer” onstage), wearing make-up and cross dressing where part of a larger theatrical tradition in the U.K. The content of the cover story on androgyny seems somewhat slapped together, as though the editors that the concept alone was enough to carry the day.  Still, the visibility of these gender issues most likely served as a source of comfort for the outsider kids growing up in small town U.S.A. (Also, although you don’t care, the picture that accompanies a blurb on professional wrestler Gorgeous George looks like it may actually be U.K. wrestling legend Adrian Street).  

In the mail section, Doctor Hook and the Medecine (sic) Show responded to a negative review: “Please ask Mr. Bangs if he would consider writing some songs for our next album…We like his style and imagination…He probably had a lot of your readers believing that the review was written by some uptight mother**ker who hasn’t gotten laid in months!” Also, future dB/Continental Drifter Peter Holsapple mailed in an appreciation of Greg Shaw. In Rock ‘n’ Roll News, it is revealed that Alice Cooper’s real name, as first reported by “Newsweek,” is Vincent Furnier. Imagine trying to keep a pop star identity secret for years in the modern era.  

In the staff housekeeping department, Georgia Christgau, Robert’s sister, is now part of the Creem team, as well as frequent contributor Wayne Robins.  

Features:
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins & The Monster by Nick Tosches  

The Androgyny Hall of Fame (uncredited)  

Words of Wisdom from Jeff Beck (uncredited)  

Notes from a Doug Sahm Journal by Chet Flippo  

David Bowie: Best Dressed Mainman at the Twilight Zone Ball by Nick Kent

 

The feature on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins is a classic, with the artist having a meltdown fight with his wife over song lyrics, then voicing his frustration with being trapped in a gimmick, frustration with not being taken seriously as a singer, frustration with being a black man in a white man’s world. The articles on Doug Sahm and Bowie are thoughtful and well-written. Nick Kent, unsurprisingly, pulls no punches on Bowie, concluding that he is “studiedly inhuman on the most pretentious and superficial level.” That Bowie character certainly was talented at button pushing.  

Quotable Quotes:   

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, “I come along and get a little weird and all of a sudden I’m a monster or something, people won’t listen to me as a singer. I’m some kind of monster. I don’t wanna be a black Vincent Price. I’m sick of it! I hate it! I wanna do goddam opera! I wanna SING! I wanna do ‘Figaro’! I wanna do ‘Le Sacre du Printemps’! ‘Ave Maria’! ‘The Lord’s Prayer’! I wanna do real SINGING. I’m sick of being a monster.”  

Jeff Beck, “Really, the Yardbirds were just a bunch of randy bastards. I was eighteen at the time. It was really nice; instead of going out and kicking someone’s head in, you could work it out through your music.”  

Nick Kent on David Bowie, “Bowie is very talented, you see, possessing an interesting ability for creating grandiose, thoroughly vacuous images utilized in everything from his songs to his public persona. Without actually transforming them into anything tangible, he simply endows those images with layer-upon-layer of synthetic sheen, so that one rarely questions their credibility, having been bamboozled by the sheer scope of their superficiality.”  

Ken Emerson, “Thom Bell is, and I’ll defend this statement to the death, the finest arranger in black music today…What Bell achieves is elegance which never becomes effete, splendor which never becomes bloated, beauty which never becomes drippy.”  

Grade: A-  

Latest price on eBay: Starting bid at $34.99, but “best offer” accepted.  

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