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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – December 1987 (Volume 19, Number 4)

John Cougar Mellencamp, who went the rootsy/Americana route with his 1987 album “The Lonesome Jubilee,” returned to the cover of the December 1987 issue of Creem. Mellencamp was matter of fact about his artistic growth in his interview with Bill Holdship, stating, “The critics weren’t wrong in the beginning. They were right. I WASN’T any fucking good in the beginning. But I’ve had the opportunity to evolve and to grow – to become something. I’ve had the opportunity to become the type of writer I always hoped to be. And, man, that’s the greatest thing in the world – to begin to realize your potential.” This story is a good snapshot of Mellencamp at arguably his artistic high point and includes several questions sent in by Gregg Turner and Mike Saunders, two rock critics/Angry Samoans who had been performing as “The Sons of Mellencamp.”

In “Rock ‘n’ Roll News,” it was reported that Lindsey Buckhingham had left Fleetwood Mac. Before the door shut behind him, he was replaced by Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. Also, Johnny Marr had left the Smiths, after working with Morrisey longer than any human should.

Features:

“Berets from Mars! R.E.M. Eat the Document,” by Karen Schlosberg

“Can Rich Men Sing the Blues? The Fabulous T-Birds Find Out,” by Roy Trakin

“Growing Up in Public: John Cougar Mellencamp’s Lonely Jubilee,” by Bill Holdship

“Are You X-perienced? Expansion or Exodus?,” by Conrad Heiney

“Fab! Gear! The George Harrison Interview,” by John Kordosh

“dBunking History,” by Harold DeMuir

Michael Stipe described R.E.M.’s “Document” album as “chaotic” and Peter Buck declared it was “challenging” in their interview with Karen Schlosberg. By this point, Stipe and Buck were old pros at the interview game and gave plenty of good sound bites. For example, Stipe, patting himself on the back, “It’s a very Orwell-type record.” Stipe on the hit single “The One I Love,” “It’s a very brutal song. I felt kind of bad for putting that one out.”

The Fabulous Thunderbirds short dance with fame was quickly coming to an end, but the band didn’t know that yet. Jimmy Vaughan, “We get to play music we like and get paid for it. How lucky can you get? We’re getting away with murder.” It is a shame that their cover of Bobby Patterson’s “How Do You Spell Love” (answer – “M.O.N.E.Y”) never made the pop charts.

John Doe explained to previously unknown Creem scribe Conrad Heiney that X was still around for the love of the game (“It’s a good gig, except for the fact that if we quit tomorrow, we’d have to be working stiffs again”) and complained about their inability to get airplay. He also stated, “I don’t want to be doing this when I’m 40.” Ok, to bring things into the present, how about when you’re 70?

George Harrison was fab in his interview with John Kordosh – calling Dick Clark “a twat,” explaining the intricacies of the music publishing business, and discussed an ongoing lawsuit against Capitol Records that was settled out of court a few years later.

Peter Holsapple talked about the difficult times that the dB’s had faced and their strange place in pop music, “It’s not like people to just LIKE the dB’s. They either don’t know who the hell we are or they absolutely LOVE us.”

Quotable Quotes:  

Peter Buck, “I don’t think we’re going to be Prince or Springsteen, and I don’t really want it.”

Jimmy Vaughan, “I think everything we do should be on the radio.”

Rick Johnson on Madonna, “Her collective acting performances could easily qualify her for the National Wandering Patients Registry.”

John Mellencamp, “There’s a few people in the world who rock ‘n’ roll means something to – and I guess I’m one of them.”

Bill Holdship, “Lou Reed is an artist who produces adult rock ‘n’ roll. John Cougar Mellencamp is now another.”

John Doe, “CREEM is really something special. Kind of the ‘Mad’ magazine of rock ‘n’ roll. I love it.”

George Harrison, “So what kind of readers does CREEM have? It’s not just Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, is it?”

George Harrison, “If you want to be Spinal Tap, then best of luck to you. But there’s a lot of Spinal Taps out there who obviously didn’t see the movie.”

Harrison, “There’s hundreds of thousands of albums mysteriously missing that they gave to pension funds run by the Mafia. It’s very dirty.”

Peter Holsapple of the dB’s, “We’re a lot of people’s favorite band, and that makes you feel like you must be doing something right.”

Holsapple, “When we finished ‘Love is for Lovers,’ we were all running around the studio going, ‘This is gonna be a monster hit, this is our grandchildren’s retirement fund.’ I can’t do that anymore.”

Gregg Turner on the Angry Samoans, “We’re really a bunch of miserable human beings; we all need a lot of help. What’s frightening is when you start getting weirder and you don’t realize you’re getting weirder.”

Summary: Really nice pieces on George Harrison, the dB’s, and Mellencamp.

Grade: A-

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