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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – July 1983 (Volume 15, Number 2)

Tough gurl Joan Jett shared the cover of the July 1983 issue of Creem with pretty boys Duran Duran. Jett was in the unenviable position of trying to follow the success of the “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” single and LP. I’m not sure that naming her 1983 album “Album” was the most inspired idea of her career, but it was certified gold, nonetheless. Jett, “I don’t go, ‘Oh man, I’m a fucking star,’ because you gotta do this for several albums to prove that you’re worth staying around.” Jett discussed the grueling nature of touring and the need for privacy (“You have to be semi-defensive all the time, I think”) in her interview with Toby Goldstein. She seemed a tad more guarded than she did in her pre-fame era. 

The death of pop culture pioneer Gloria Stavers and the bankruptcy (financial, not artistic) of Meat Loaf were reported in “Rock ‘n’ Roll News.” 

With this issue, John Mendelssohn began writing the “Eleganza” column, much to the delight of the late teens/early twenties version of myself. Never shying away from controversy, in this issue John wrote, “Freddie Mercury’s always wanted us to wonder about his sexuality. Toward this end, he used to dress up like a raging drag queen in the mid-70’s, and comes on now, in his very short hair and moustache and leather trousers, like someone who’s too butch to be straight. He continues to grimace and pose as he always has, making every line seem an expression of boundless inner torment. He continues to be the most repulsive man in rock ‘n’ roll.” 

Lita Ford looked primed for an MTV spotlight as “The Creem Dreem.” 


“Rockin’ to New Orleans: Red Rockers vs. The Domino Theory!,” by Richard Grabel 

“Just Another Band from L.A.? The Dream Syndicate’s Heavenly Feedback from Hell!,” by Bill Holdship 

“The Half-Dozen or So Moods of Ultravox,” by John Kordosh 

“Treading Her Turf: Joan Jett Gets Some Respect (Finally!),” by Toby Goldstein 

“The Fabulous Thunderbirds: They’re Tearing It Up Again,” by Iman Lababedi 

“Putting on the Atomic Dog: George Clinton Cries ‘Woof’,” by John Morthland 

“The man from D.U.R.A.N. D.U.R.A.N.,” by Annene Kaye 

If you’ve forgotten the Red Rockers, a 1980’s new wave act that had a minor hit with the watered down U2 meets Missing Persons single “China,” you are in good company.  

Ultravox slagged several acts, everything from Adam Ant to Styx, in their interview with John Kordosh. Midge Ure had kind words regarding working with producer George Martin.  

Bill Holdship was a big fan of the Dream Syndicate’s Velvet Underground inspired1982 album “The Days of Wine and Roses” and band frontman Steve Wynn talked with the passion of Bruce Springsteen about the power of music (“The best music I’ve ever heard is the music you hear when it’s real dark and you’re alone. Suddenly, you hear something like ‘Going Home’ by the Stones – under your pillow on a transistor radio – and you listen to it, and you say, ‘Yeah! That’s better than anything I’ve ever heard!’”). 

Iman Lababedi raved about the Fabulous Thunderbirds, both in terms of their live performance and their records. At the time the article was printed, Jimmy Vaughn’s little brother Stevie Ray wasn’t even worth being mentioned.  

Former Creem staff member John Morthland contributed his first piece since 1977, an interview with George Clinton that went in-depth on the legal issues the Funkmeister had experienced for several years with Warner Brothers. Other subjects discussed were Clinton’s fondness for video games, his upcoming single “Atomic Dog” (“I forget WHY I named it the dog”), and his admiration of the Culture Club. This is a really good piece. 

Annene Kaye interviewed Andy Taylor during the timeframe when Duran Duran’s “Rio” album was moving toward multi-platinum success. Taylor sounded much more like a businessman than a musician, discussing chart success, the importance of radio/MTV, and discussing the band’s image. The musician’s ending query, “Does CREEM still do stars and their cars?” 

Quotable Quotes:   

Chris Stamey, “When I’m listening (to music), I really like a quick response to something that seems wonderful in it. Full of WONDER in it…I think this is not going to be right for CREEM.” 

Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate, “If we were just trying to be the Velvets, we could stand there and play ‘Sister Ray’ and ‘I Heard Her Call My Name,’ and be happy with that. But we’re not a tribute to the Velvets, and, hopefully, the more people see us, the more they’ll realize that.” 

John Kordosh on Ultravox, “Onstage, they’re inhumanly dour, while on record they’re merely thoughtfully despondent.” 

Chriss Chross (Jump! Jump!) of Ultravox, “Duran Duran – they’re really big now, but in six months they’ll be dead as a doornail.” 

Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, “We’re a party band, we’re a dance band. When people come and see us we don’t care what they do. They can crawl on the floor.” 

John Morthland, “(George) Clinton is the man who spent the last decade revolutionizing black popular music as surely as Ray Charles, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Motown, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone did before him – and unlike most of them, he did it without benefit of white radio airplay.” 

John Taylor of Duran Duran, “We always knew we had a ‘product’ that we could sell, but nobody knew what the hell it sounded like.” 

John Taylor, “I think we’ve got integrity in this country, which is more than we’ve got in Britain.” 

Jim Farber on Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut” album, “Welcome back my friends to the neuroses that never ends.” 

Summary: It was a welcome surprise to see John Morthland back in the pages of Creem. In addition to the Clinton piece, he contributed a fine review of R.E.M.’s “Murmur” LP (referred to as “Murmurs” in the magazine, perhaps as an unknowing nod to Fleetwood Mac). 

Grade: A- 

Latest price on eBay: $15.00 to “Buy It Now.” 

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