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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – June 1978 (Volume 10, Number 1) 

Jethro Tull was still considered a big enough AOR act to merit Ian Anderson being on the cover of the June 1978 issue of Creem. Although the band hadn’t had a Top 40 hit since 1974’s “Bungle in the Jungle” (which was all right by me), their 1977 album “Songs from the Wood” reached the Top Ten in the U.S. and was certified Gold. Author Simon Frith found Jethro Tull’s appeal beyond his capacity to understand, and Ian Anderson found Jethro Tull’s appeal beyond his capacity to verbally express (“I’ve really no idea what they like about us”). Still, Anderson remained an interest interview subject, discussing the pop culture scene and how Tull needed to differentiate themselves from arena acts such as the Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd, since they couldn’t compete with them in their respect areas of expertise.  

Features: 

“Sea Level: Allman Joy or Raisinettes,” by Tom Dupree 

“Confessions of a Bee Gees Fan,” by Simon Frith 

“Wrap Your Lips Around My Tailpipe: A Guide to Detroit Rock,” by Susan Whitall and Cathy Gisi 

“Ian Anderson: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Squire,” by Simon Frith 

“Still Faithfull After All These Years,” by Penny Valentine 

“Two Days with the Ramones and I Don’t Want to Make it Home Tonight or A Fan’s Notes,” by Billy Altman 

Tom Dupree interviewed Chuck Leavell of Sea Level, an Allman Brothers offshoot act that tried to nail that Southern funk jam band market with little success (their moniker was a pun on Chuck’s name – C. Leavell). Leavell started working as a session man/touring musician with the Rolling Stones in the 1980s and now serves as that band’s “music director.” Sea Level pretty quickly lost its battle against the new wave tide. 

Simon Frith contributed an entertaining think piece on the Bee Gees, an act he considered entertaining and completely buffoonish at the same time. Susan Whitall and Cathy Gisi covered old school and new wave acts (Mitch Ryder, the Rockets, MC-5, the Romantics, etc.) on their feature on Detroit rock. The section on local legends The Mutants contains probably the first reference to future Creem scribe John Kordosh in the magazine. At that point, he was billed as John Amore.  

Marianne Faithfull went into significant depth on overcoming addiction and her relationship with Mick Jagger in her interview with Penny Valentine. Covering a distinctly different sound, Billy Altman tracked down the Ramones in Texas, capturing a successful club gig in Austin. His summary after the excursion, “Christ, I like this band.” 

Quotable Quotes:   

Robert Christgau on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, “The Bee Gees side is pop music at a new peak of irresistible silliness, with the former Beatles clones singing like mechanical mice with an unnatural sense of rhythm.” 

Pete Townshend on touring, “We don’t want to play anymore. We’ve been doing the same live act for such a long time now. The act we were acclaimed for was a celebration of our history. I’m fed up with doing it.” Perhaps Pete should have considered a farewell tour. 

Simon Frith on the Bee Gees, “The essence of beegeeness, the reason why I love them so, is that they’re so astonishingly unhip; everything they touch turns to slop.” 

Ian Anderson,  “Punk rock is just another time for the same old tired and tested elementary rock riff, same old electric guitar, same old drum kit set up the same old way.” 

Penny Valentine on Marianne Faithfull, “Today there’s a battered beauty about her and a lack of self-pity that’s remarkable. The only things that haven’t changed are the famous bird and flower tattoo on her hand, and the tremulous singing voice which retains its insidious strength.” 

Marianne Faithfull on drug addiction, “I used to think it was like deep sea diving, the whole thing. That I’d touch the bottom and when I came up again, everything would be exactly the same. And, of course, it isn’t.” 

Ramones road manager Monte Melnick remembering a stop in San Antonio, “This middle aged woman is looking at all of them (the band) and then she comes over to me and says, ‘Are you the gentleman that takes care of these retarded boys? I think that’s real nice.’ Then she smiles and walks away.” 

Joey Ramone, “We’ve been hitting all these great record stores around the country. We all run in and start tearin’ apart the bins. Whoever finds the best stuff wins and everybody else gets pissed off. It’s great.” 

Joe Fernbacher on Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle,” “As perfect an album as you’ll ever want to hear.” 

Richard Riegal on Van Halen’s debut album (titled, doncha know, “Van Halen”), “This band has all the late-psychedelia/early-metal pyrotechnics down solid, especially in Edward Van Halen’s snarling-Dutchman solos. Sure, they’re barband veterans, more accomplished musically than many punk upstarts, but STYLE is essential to slicing the mustards these days.” 

Rick Johnson on Wire’s “Pink Flag” album, “Wire isn’t just another crew of Limey gearhogs dropping empty black paint cans down the trash chute of some hovel skyscraper. Besides reducing punk noise to a drone essence not unlike stripped-down Ramones, they’ve left incriminating thought-prints all over their lyrics, suggesting a deadly I-beam intelligence pure enough to measure red shifts in the reflection off a greasy urinal handle.”  

Summary:  Yet another consistently engaging issue. 

Grade: A- 

Latest price on eBay: $12.00 to “Buy It Now.” 

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