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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – Creem Close Up Presents: The Best of Creem (Volume 1, Number 2; January 1988)

In January of 1988 Creem published another “Best Of” magazine edition, this one admittedly covering only the past “41 months” of the magazine’s history. This overview provides us a good opportunity to look at the evolution of Creem under publisher Arnold Levitt. Although there were features/reviews/columns that still provoked outrage from readers, the overall tone of the magazine became much less confrontational under Levitt. There were markedly less, if any, publicity photos of scantily clad female rockers. “F bombs” were no longer in usage, being edited out of Christgau reviews and formatted as “f_ _ _ _ _ _ _” in a recent quote from John Mellencamp. As far as I can tell, the “n” word hadn’t been published since an early 1980’s quote from John Cougar, as he was known at the time. There was less humor based on sexual orientation or stereotypes. Unlike the early 1980s, Creem was now a safe space for Canadians.  

Features: 

This issue is largely a compilation of features on platinum selling artists, with the Replacements being the exception to that rule. I wouldn’t argue that this is the best content from this era of Creem, the editor notes that Motley Crue is included “since they sell magazines almost as good as they sell records.” In any event, the featured artists are David Lee Roth, the Replacements, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Motley Crue, Bruce Springsteen, Run-D.M.C., Los Lobos, the Cure, R.E.M., and the Beastie Boys. There is also a fun “Best of Creem’s Record Reviews,” which fills up the “Quotable Quotes” section. 

Quotable Quotes:   

John Kordosh on Jefferson Starship, “This record has precious little to do with life, or even the tobacco mosaic virus.” 

Craig Zeller on Julian Lennon, “Julie, if your dad hadn’t been in the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time, you wouldn’t have a recording contract and I wouldn’t be sitting here trying to think of a decent way to tell you your new album is a piece of junk.” 

Rick Johnson on David Lee Roth, “There should be a sticker on the back saying, ‘Listeners are urged to bring lawn chairs.’” 

Richard Riegel on Bryan Adams, “Bryan’s many fans seem to love their obviousness obvious.” 

Summary: The pieces on the Replacements (by Bill Holdship), Pink Floyd (by Dave DiMartino) and the Beastie Boys (by Chuck Eddy) are truly first rate. Most of the rest are typical Creem features of that era on highly successful acts. 

Grade: B+ 

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