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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – January 1988 (Volume 19, Number 5)

Ric Ocasek of the Cars, promoting the 1987 album “Door to Door”, which was somewhat of a commercial flop compared to 1984’s multi-platinum “Heartbeat City,” was featured on the January 1988 cover of Creem. George Harrison, a much more interesting interview subject, received a small inset pic. Author Roy Trakin quickly covered the history of the Cars, then interviewed a prickly Elliot Easton and Ric Ocasek. Ocasek pontificated on the band’s sound, “There’s definitely a subliminal edge going through the music which pulls you in. It’s like hypnosis. I also like melodies which counter the emotion of a song.” Ocasek somewhat sound like a mad scientist whose field of study just happened to be popular music. 

In “Rock ‘n’ Roll News,” we learned that Paul McCartney had been writing with Elvis Costello, that MTV Europe had declared an International Lemmy Day, and that Clem Burke’s tenure in the Ramones lasted as long as a “mayfly’s lifespan.” In sadder news, the murder of Peter Tosh was also reported.  


“The BoDeans’ Bubbling Crude,” by Moira McCormick 

“Hide the Purina! It’s the Pet Shop Boys,” by Sylvie Simmons 

“The Cars: The 50,000 Mile Tune-Up,” by Roy Trakin 

“Metallica: Back to the Garage,” by Judy Wieder 

“The Ramones: Halfway to Sanity…And Back Again!,” by Kris Needs 

“Tom Waits: Town Crier,” by Bill Holdship 

“Fabber Than Before…The George Harrison Interview, Part Two,” by John Kordosh 

The BoDeans, a roots rocking act from suburban Milwaukee, were enjoying a substantial critical buzz in the late 1980s. Sam Llanas on the band’s career goals, “We want to be successful some day – have a big song now and then – and be comfortable.” The BoDeans scored a Top 40 hit in 1993 with “Closer to Free,” which became the theme song to the television series “Party of Five.” Llanas left the band in 2011 after he was accused by lead guitarist Kurt Neumann of sexually abusing Neumann’s daughter. 

The Pet Shop Boys were enjoying international success in the late 1980s with the hit singles “It’s a Sin” and “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” from their 1987 album “Actually.” Neil Tennant talked about wanting to be in the Beatles as a child and that the Pet Shop Boys wrote the kind of pop music that they personally enjoyed. Chris Lowe’s major pop star inspiration was U.K. legend Cliff Richards. Tennant on their cover of “Always on My Mind,” “It’s a disco version. It’s really, really fab. You’re going to hate it!” Neil Tennant was really enjoying himself in this interview. 

Lars Ulrich talked about the death of Cliff Burton, adding Jason Newsted into the Metallica camp, and being monogamous in a short piece with Judy Wieder. Author Wieder has quite a resume, including being a Grammy award winning songwriter and serving as Editor for “The Advocate.” 

Joey Ramone talked about the drummer drama that resulted in Richie Ramone (Richard Reinhardt) leaving, Clem Burke playing one gig and Marky Ramone (Marc Bell) rejoining the band. He also hyped the “Halfway to Sanity” album, describing the effort as “REAL raw, REAL exciting.” He was in a very talkative mood in this piece, making for a very good interview. 

Tom Waits seemed pretty cynical about being interviewed for Creem magazine (“Who’s on the cover this week? AC/DC?”). He later warmed up a bit, describing his love for the Pogues and the Replacements.  

George Harrison discussed coping with fame, his spirituality, playing bass on a few Beatles songs, and his history with LSD in an excellent interview with John Kordosh.  

Quotable Quotes:   

Sylvie Simmons, “Neil Tennant laughs, like a seaside monkey imitating Dylan.” 

Jon Young on the Cars “Door to Door” album, “Anyone who’s ever seen the fellas live knows it’d be hard to find a stiffer, more unrockin’ collection of folks…Ocasek’s inconsistent songwriting nearly scrapes bottom here. Most of ‘Door to Door’ is shockingly forgettable.” 

Chuck Eddy on Pink Floyd’s “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” album, “If it’s pinkness you crave, you’d be better off with any of the following: the Band’s ‘Music from Big Pink,’ Wire’s ‘Pink Flag,’ AC/DC’s “Sink the Pink,” Husker Du’s “Pink Turns to Blue,” Pere Ubu’s “Rhapsody in Pink,” Robert Plant’s “Pink and Black,” John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses,” the Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty in Pink” (original version only), Henry Mancini’s “The Pink Panther Theme,” or anything by the Pink Fairies. Or for that matter I guess you could just go out and purchase some Pepto-Bismol.” 

Roy Trakin, “The Cars don’t exactly ooze personality.” 

Elliot Easton, “Buddy Holly has just one song, Bo Diddley’s got one song, Chuck Berry’s got one song, right?…There are some great guitarists who do nothing but play the same solos their whole lives.” 

Ric Ocasek, “I don’t get absorbed in the successes, so I won’t have to crawl with the failures.” 

Joey Ramone, “We really changed the course of rock history and revolutionized rock ‘n’ roll.”

Joey Ramone, “We have a trademark sound. That’s something that everyone tries to achieve, but few do. Since the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll, there’s only been about 10 or 15 bands that had definite sounds that everyone tries to emulate – like Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, the Who…THE RAMONES! We stand alone, even though all these scenes and movements have come out surrounding us. They come and go – we MAINTAIN.” 

George Harrison, “I don’t go around thinking I’m a Beatle…I tend to live now, here, this day.” 

George Harrison on Madonna, who he had worked with on the film “Shanghai Surprise,” “She doesn’t have a sense of humor, which is unfortunate. ‘Cause it was a comedy…What she needs is just 500 milligrams of LSD.” 

Harrison on his experiences with LSD, “It just opened the door and I experienced really good things. I mean, I never doubted God after that. Before, I was a cynic. I didn’t even say the word God; I thought ‘bullshit to all that stuff.’ But after that, I KNEW. It was not even a question of ‘Is there possibly a God?’ – I knew absolutely. It’s just that big light that goes off in your head.” 

Summary: I love the George Harrison interview and it was fun to hear Joey Ramone discuss his band in terms of their place in rock ‘n’ roll history. 

Grade: A 

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