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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – January 1976 (Volume 7, Number 8)

As of this issue, Wayne Robins is no longer the editor of Creem. Lester Bangs sits atop the masthead as “Senior Editor,” Robert Duncan is “Managing Editor,” Jaan Uhelszki is “Features Editor,” and Susan Whitall comprised the “Editorial Staff.” In this “Special Christmas Issue,” a proclamation is made that “John Denver Is God” and “Bruce Springsteen Is Not God.” They were half right. Gary Ciccarelli’s cover illustration is quite humorous, with a chubby John Denver serving as baby Jesus and being eyed reverently by Bob Dylan, Elton John, and a less instantly recognizable rock star (Carly Simon? Steven Tyler? Todd Rundgren? Definitely not Charlie Rich). 

A few “Rock ‘N’ Roll News” notes. In the previous issue, it had been speculated that Ringo Starr was “broke” due to bad investments and poor financial management. In this issue, it’s reported that Ringo signed a “five and a half million” dollar record deal.  FIVE AND A HALF MILLION FOR RINGO. There must have been a special suicide hotline established in the U.K. just for Pete Best. Also, it was reported that a Bruce Springsteen bio penned by Dave Marsh would be released in February of 1976. Some level of sanity kicked in and Marsh’s “Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story” was delayed until September of 1979.  

Features: 

Penguins in Bondage: Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart by Robot A. Hull 

Jethro Tull: Naked Came the Codpiece by Mongo Genheimer 

John Denver Is God by Lester Bangs 

Bruce Springsteen Isn’t God (And Doesn’t Want to Be) by Robert Duncan 

Patti Smith: Howling Sweet Fire by Tony Glover 

Lisztomania: Kiss Me Where the Sun Shines by Jaan Uhelszki 

Whorin’ and Scorin’ with ZZ Top by Rick Johnson 

Bluckdoosa Flamoo, My Darling: The Bay City Rollers Papers by Cameron Crowe 

Robert Hull attended a radio interview with Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. Zappa was predictably smug and Beefheart sounded like an alien. Lester Bangs ruminated that John Denver should be celebrated, based upon the culture at the time, for being disgusting/cowardly/sleazy. Bangs, “With the collapse of our national ideals, it seems only fitting that we have one bespectacled avatar to ram them down our throats one last time, along with all that hippie peace and love crap, to make double damn sure that we avoid nostalgia for lost innocence and squandered glory at all costs.” It’s an interesting piece.  

Bruce Springsteen and Robert Duncan bonded over their New Jersey/New York heritages while Bruce recounted the painstaking process of recording the “Born to Run” album. Blues historian/musician Tony Glover did a fine history piece on Patti Smith, as well as an interview on the classic “Horses” album. The Rick Johnson article on ZZ Top is more fun than looting a taco truck.  Also, Gilda Radner appeared as a model to sell subscriptions to the magazine.

Quotable Quotes:   

Frank Zappa, “I can’t understand why anybody would want to devote their life to a cause like dope. That’s the most boring pastime I can think of. It ranks a close second to television.”

Ian Anderson, “In terms of self-indulgence, pretentiousness…jazz falls into these traps all too easily. John Coltrane – how do I know this man isn’t just masturbating for all to see?” 

Lester Bangs, “John Denver has only finished the demolition job on our national cultural chauvinism which (the band) America began. There is nothing so destructive to any piety as making it the object of kitsch, and John Denver is kitsch at apogee.” 

Bruce Springsteen, “People would come up to us and say, ‘Hey, I really dig you guys! Where do ya come from?’ And I’d say, ‘New Jersey.’ And they’d just go ‘Yecch! Ecch!’” 

Springsteen, “After I finished (the) ‘Born to Run’ (album), I thought it was the worst garbage I’d ever heard.” 

Tony Glover, “(Patti Smith) worked for ‘Rock’ magazine till she went to interview Eric Clapton, dressed all in black with a T-shirt that said ‘Twist’ on it – showed up at the hotel, plugged in her tape recorder, asked him his five favorite words, he mumbled a few, she said thanks and split, stomping off down the hall, leaving him in the doorway, scratching his head.” 

Patti Smith on her “Horses” album, “We didn’t sit around and say we were gonna create a new form – new forms just happen, like sacred accidents.” 

Rick Johnson, “(ZZ Top) are now being patted on the wallet as an overnight phenomenon after five long years of road sleaze and playing to zoned-out cowboys with branding irons in their eyes.” 

Leslie McKeown of the Bay City Rollers, “Weir noormal geeze, just like yew.” 

Summary: Everybody does their job here – gets on base, advances the runners, plays for the team. 

Grade: A- 

and lest we forget: Gilda Radner:

Latest price on eBay: 24.99 to “Buy It Now.” 

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