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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – January 1980 (Volume 11, Number 8)

Creem magazine kicked off the 1980s with a number of “new wave” acts featured on the cover, to include Joe Jackson, the Knack, Bram Tchaikovsky, Blondie, and the Police. Joe Jackson’s receding hairline captured the primary cover photo, although the Knack, Fleetwood Mac, and Hunter & Ronson got cover pics also. Joe Jackson complained about fan interaction offstage and was bewildered by the politics of American radio, but otherwise came off as an agreeable lad in his interview with Susan Whitall and Linda Barber.  

In one of my favorite letters to the editor, Robert Hull playfully threatened Todd Rundgren with a libel lawsuit since he was “neither weird, nor, ahem, fictitious.” (Rundgren had ranted about rock critics in a previous issue). Hull, “Certainly the fiction of ‘Robot’ is harmless compared to the fiction which Mr. Rundgren foists upon his many fans – that he still possesses a rock & roll sensibility.” 

In “Rock ‘n’ Roll News” it was reported that Joe Perry had left Aerosmith. A corresponding photo caption noted, “If I gotta play ‘Dream On’ one more time, I’m LEAVIN’!” 

Features: 

“The A-s: Stuck Inside of Philly with the Show-Biz Blues Again,” by Toby Goldstein 

“Bram Tchaikovsky’s 1980 Overture,” by Billy Altman 

“Max Knack Attack Packs Few Facts, Jack (But Stacks of Tracks Put the Pax on Flacks’ Yaks), by Richard Riegel  

“Destruction Through Motion: Life After Glitter with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson,” by Jeffrey Morgan 

“Fleetwood Mac: Lord of the Big Mac Manor, Mick Fleetwood Delivers the Words,” by Patrick Goldstein 

Toby Goldstein interviewed the plucky Philly band the A’s, who I remembered nothing about. I just did a quick listen to the 1981 single “A Woman’s Got the Power” and I hope I can forget that quickly, too. Bram Tchaikovsky, another commercial casualty from that era, was an entertaining interview subject (see quotes below). 

Richard Riegel penned a defense of the Knack, which he put in the context of the history of the magazine as being similar to advocating for Grand Funk Railroad, the Stooges, Alice Cooper, and KISS – bands that had all at one point been critical punching bags. Riegel, “If the Knack happen to fit into these NOW kids’ make-it-right-tonight dreams of rock ‘n’ roll exploration, who are we pompous old farts to tell ‘em what they can or can’t like?” 

Ian Hunter and Mick Fleetwood were fine interview subjects, although neither piece broke any groundbreaking news.  

Quotable Quotes:   

Bram Tchaikovsky, “We were all Mods…We used to get a lot of stabbings, fingers chopped off; if you went to a fight, you went with motorcycle chains, axes and hammers.” 

Tchaikovsky on playing the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” “People ask me why we do that song. I think it’s a great song. You know, one thing I hated about the late 60’s and 70’s was that musical snobbery – that some bands were hip and others just had no chance no matter what kind of songs they did.” 

Richard Riegel, “The Knack are agitating the rock ‘n’ roll class wars more violently than practically any other band this year.” 

Ian Hunter on Mott the Hoople, “There was a lot of weight on me shoulders – especially after Mick Ralphs left, anyway, because then I became responsible, really, for all the music that Mott did…I was the only silly bugger that WROTE 24 hours a day.” 

Peter Goldstein, “Fleetwood Mac is perhaps rock ‘n’ roll’s last true royal family.” 

Mick Fleetwood on the cost of the “Tusk” album, “Our accountants couldn’t believe the money we spent.”

Joe Jackson, “I still think that the average American bloke just wants to take as many drugs as possible and go and sit in a place where the music is as loud as possible and just go, ‘YEAH! ALL RIGHT!’ all the way through.” 


Dave DiMartino on the David Marsh book, “Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story,” “Whoever proofread this ditty either hates Bruce or loves hallucinogenic drugs, or both.” 

Richard Riegel on Blondie’s “Eat to the Beat” album, “The music still FEELS like rock, but incorporates even more widely-eclectic pop references than the transcendent sleaze, junk culture songs on the early Blondie records…The Blondies are reaching up from their punk origins toward a Gershwinesque urban vision; in their hearts, they’ve always been as unabashedly romantic for their Manhattan as Woody Allen is in his rock-hating way.” 

Summary: Richard Riegel is way too often forgotten as one of the best writers in Creem history. Let’s all face Cincinnati and do a quick, but not ostentatious, bow. 

Grade: A- 

Latest price on eBay: $11.99 to “Buy It Now.” 

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