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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – July 1976 (Volume 8, Number 2) 

The cover photo of the 1976 issue of Creem is the famous bicentennial picture of KISS, taken by Barry Levine, that would become one of the most popular posters of its era. I’m pretty sure I had the poster, with Peter Criss wearing a “blood” stained headband, on my wall as a teenager. The corresponding article is complete fluff (“in the future, all rock bands will be geek shows with rubber chickens”), supposedly penned by Gerald L.K. Smite. In terms of timing, religious entrepreneur and former white supremacist politician Gerald L.K. Smith passed away in April of 1976. His influence still looms large in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

As the staff turns: by this issue, longtime Creem employee Jaan Uhelszki had left her editorial position and Bill Gubbins (not the guy from ZZ Top) was now in the “Managing Editor” slot. According to his current biography, Mr. Gubbins also served as the editor of “Country Weekly,” “Moviegoer,” “Travel Life,” and “Women’s Health Advisor” magazine during his career. Publisher Barry Kramer also listed his newborn son and current Creem owner J.J. Kramer as being in charge of “New Products.”

Features:

“Patti Smith: In Her Own Lights,” by Charlotte Pressler and Miriam Linna

“Innocents in Babylon: A Search for Jamaica with Bob Marley, Part II,” by Lester Bangs

“Robin Trower: Prince of the Power Wah,” by Susan Whitall

“The Shape of KISS to Come,” by Gerald L.K. Smite

“Aerosmith’s Fight for Life,” by Dave Hickey

The Patti Smith article was penned by Charlotte Pressler, who once married to musician/rock critic Peter Laughner and recorded under the name Stella Rayon, and drummer Miriam Linna was a founding member of the Cramps. They captured Patti Smith’s odd charisma as she was transitioning from a club act to a larger stage.

Lester Bangs attended recording sessions in Jamaica, as well as having an interesting night at a reggae music/religious event (“It was like a cross between a Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting and a very local garage gig”). Lester’s painted a vivid picture of the dangers and customs of Jamaican society. He also enjoyed making fun of Peter Simon (a photographer who was the brother of Carly Simon), who seemed…let’s say…a bit Simple.

Dave Hickey took a positive tone towards Aerosmith’s dedication to “adolescent sex.” He later wrote, “I went along on Aerosmith’s first major headline tour. All the things they had always wanted to do they did, and I helped. I’m still ashamed.” Susan Whitall caught a surprisingly relaxed Robin Trower at what was probably his height as an arena rock attraction. It seems that often the female writers (Whitall, Lisa Robinson, Jaan Uhelzski) got the hard rock musicians to relax more and therefore have more amicable conversations.

Poor correspondents/wimp rockers America look like they know they’ve reached their apex of hipdom moment as the subject of the “Creem’s Profiles.”

Quotable Quotes:

Rinus Gerritsen of Golden Earring, “Don’t say we’re the best thing from Holland since tulips.”

Florida DJ to Bruce Springsteen, “What’s it like to be the new Bob Dylan?” Bruce Springsteen, “What’s it like to be punched in the face?”

Peter Frampton on guitar playing, “There is nothing new. It’s all been done before, in a different way. I mean, there are only so many notes.”

Charlotte Pressler and Miriam Linna on Patti Smith, “She’s changed her stage act since New York, it’s now more rock ‘n’ roll oriented instead of the hesitant stiff gestures. There’s a wild woman who crawls around in classic Iggy Pop postures grinding her crotch against Lenny Kaye’s guitar back, almost touching the floor doing the Rimbaud limbo, stirring up lust juices in the audience on both sides of the gender divide.”

Lester Bangs on Lee Perry, “I can’t say exactly how or why, but merely to meet and watch him work for a few minutes is to be irrevocably impressed, to know you are in the presence of genius.”

Robin Trower, “I find early James Brown records psychedelic, because they expand my mind. I think our music is mind-expanding in the same way.”

Dave Hickey on Aerosmith, “A lot of people have compared (Steven) Tyler onstage to Jagger, but the difference is telling because Jagger is the master of his own words, he uses them like ammunition, and Tyler is a slave to his words, a puppet.”

Joe Perry, “(Steven Tyler) hasn’t changed anything but his clothes since we started this band.”

Rick Johnson, “As the prime purveyors of desensitized stupidity in the twilight of behavioral sink, Kiss could not be matched. Their 70s treatments of Chuck Berry succeeded where others of the same ‘mentality’ fell short because they alone had a true insight into the realities of day-to-day teenage dumbness not unlike a latter day Beach Boys.”

Summary: Fun, fun, fun ‘til your mama takes your Boy Howdy! Away. Plus a gratuitous Paul McCartney picture because…

Grade: A-

Latest price on eBay: $49.99 or “Best Offer” (Kiss fans are kompulsive kollectors)

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