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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – July 1988 (Volume 19, Number 10)

Steve Winwood, who released his double platinum “Roll With It” album in 1988, was featured on the cover of the July 1988 of Creem. In terms of layout and colors, one would be hard pressed to find a less attractive cover. Winwood spoke with pride about his commercial success, somewhat downplayed the success of the Spencer Davis Group (saying the band basically copied “old blues songs”), and discussed being more interested in music than the concept of stardom. Sylvie Simmons worked really hard to get a decent interview out of Winwood. You can practically see her pulling his teeth out as the interview progresses. 

In “Rock ‘n’ Roll News,” we learned that the Cars and Husker Du had disbanded.  

Features: 

“Robyn Hitchcock Gets Rational,” by Steve Hochman 

“Anthrax: Better Than Death,” by Deb Sprague 

“The Smithereens, Five Years After,” by Harold DeMuir 

“Ig, Lou and Icehouse,” by Vicki Arnoff 

“Frank Zappa: The Blunt Way,” by Michael Davis 

“The Talking T-Bone,” by Sharon Liveton 

“Firehose, If’n You Don’t Know By Now,” by Steve Peters 

Creem magazine’s enthusiastic support of Robyn Hitchcock helped the eccentric English songwriter get a major label deal with his 1988 “Globe of Frogs” album. Hitchcock spoke in riddles and deflections in his interview with Steve Hochman. Regarding the new album, he said, “You know what the themes are anyway: sex, death, and food.” 

Harold DeMuir wrote about the long path to relative success for the Smithereens and noted that Elton John was a fan of the band.  

Frank Zappa wrote about the business side of the industry, bemoaned the fashion driven acts of the 1980s (“What the f— ever happened to A Flock of Seagulls”), and talked about being requested by the Libertarian Party to run for President (“There’s no way I could stand up there and adhere to their platform with a straight face because when you stick that close to what’s on paper, it eliminates the ability to seek new solutions to problems”). 

Quotable Quotes:   

Billy Altman on The Pogues’ “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” album, “The Pogues aren’t simply coming OUT of any old traditions or new movements anymore. With this record, they have succeeded in becoming a viable part of both.” 

Sylvie Simmons, “If you were in the mood for hanging someone, you could string up Steve Winwood solely on the grounds that he’s probably personally responsible for adult contemporary rock in all its slippery writhing abominations, if you weren’t already frying him for inventing supergroups.” 

Frank Zappa, “The most valuable commodity in American life today is unbridled bluntness.” 

Summary: As someone who never had any real interest in reading about Anthrax, Firehose, T-Bone Burnett, and Icehouse, this is one of the blandest issues in the history of the magazine. Once again reflecting the instability of Creem at this time, no issue was published for the following month. 

Grade: C+  Latest price on eBay: $23.18 to “Buy It Now.” 

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