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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – July 1980 (Volume 12, Number 2)

David Lee Roth, looking like a man you would want to keep far away from any teenage daughters you might have, was featured on the cover of the July 1980 issue of Creem magazine. Author Dave DiMartino described his own thorny personality (“I enjoy offending people”), then asked “Why do I LOVE Van Halen?” David Lee Roth was in his usual outlandish form, and this was from the era when he was still coherent. He explained the difference between heavy metal acts and Van Halen (“Van Halen is entertainment”), dissed the critics while discussing loving bad reviews, and overall sounded like he was having the time of his life. As a rock star should.  

Elsewhere, Cheap Trick appeared as “The Creem Dreem.” Rick Nielsen used a few awards from Boy Howdy! as “pseudo-mammary glands.” 


“The Agony of Being XTC,” by Walter Wasacz 

“Burbank Calling,” by John Kordosh 

“Squeeze: Perfecting the Fine Art of ArgyBargy,” by Rob Patterson  

“Juke Joint Jimmy in Midlife Crises: Geils-It is Still Got a Hold on Me,” by Richard Riegel 

“Tenement Steps to Glory The Motors Tune Up,” by Rob Patterson 

“Belgrade or Bust: Lene Lovich’s Eastern European Express,” by Mark J. Norton 

Walter Wasacz caught XTC when they still performed live and Andy Partridge discussed the band’s recording goals by saying, “I’ll sum it up in one word: ATMOSPHERE. If we don’t get the atmosphere of the song, we’ve failed.” 

John Kordosh’s short piece called “Burbank Calling “ examined how British musicians often repackaged/robbed material from American bluesman and sold it back to U.S. teens. 

Richard Reigel enjoyed a three-hour long J. Geils Band live set, despite Peter Wolf’s “fake spade jive talk” patter between songs. He was stiff armed on getting an interview, because the band felt his review of the “Love Stinks” album wasn’t suitably enthusiastic.  

Mark J. Norton went to Yugoslavia and Greece, catching several concerts by Lene Lovich who had a major international hit (excluding the U.S. and Canada) with “Lucky Number” in 1979. Lene seemed as low key offstage as she was eccentric while performing.  

Quotable Quotes:   

Robert Christgau on Linda Ronstadt’s new wave influenced album “Mad Love,” “This is how Ethel Merman would do Elvis Costello, only Ethel Merman has a better sense of humor.” 

Dave DiMartino on Willie Nile, “If you don’t read the papers, you probably don’t realize that Willie Nile is the new Bob Dylan & Loudon Wainwright III & John Prine & Bruce Springsteen & Steve Forbert all rolled up into one big folkie ball and waiting to eat the world raw.” I’m not sure how coincidental it is that Loudon Wainwright III later wrote, “Yeah, I got a deal and so did John Prine/Steve Forbert and Springsteen, all in a line” in his song “New Bob Dylan.”

Jools Holland on the U.S. music scene, “The sad thing is that pop music is a bit of a dirty word over here.” 

Dave DiMartino, “I’m tempted to call (Van Halen) ‘America’s Led Zeppelin’ if I thought that would be a COMPLIMENT.” 

David Lee Rother, “The reason so many critics dislike Van Halen and like Elvis Costello so much is because they all LOOK like Elvis Costello.” 

Robot A. Hull on the Peter Guralnick book “Lost Highway,” “Without a doubt, it is the most humanistic work ever written about American popular music.” 

Rick Johnson on Van Halen’s “Women and Children First Album,” “Combining as they do the most endearing musical aspects of helicopter decapitations, clothes dryers full of hunting knives and your average hailstorm of frozen aluminum dinnerware sets striking a Pepsi-Cola bottling plant, the little Dutch boys and their pals have cut through the façade of heavy metal manners and taken a bead on pure form bamalama.” 

Robot A. Hull on The Cramps’ “Songs the Lord Taught Us” album, “(It) fries the brain cells like nothing under God’s holy firmament.” 

Summary: DiMartino’s piece on Van Halen is a classic. 

Grade: A- 

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