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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – March 1974 (Volume 5, Number 10) 

For our latest issue in this series, we jump forward four months to March of 1974. This is the first issue I’ve reviewed that includes the infamous “Creem’s Profiles,” comprised of a band/artist drinking “Boy Howdy!” beer accompanied by wry editorial comments on the subject’s background. The members of Slade appear to be suitably wasted for their day in court. The listed “Hobbies” for the act are “Inciting mob violence in delirious English pubs. Trying to export same.”

In the Beat Goes On section, Jim Esposito (presumably not the man with that name who is currently one of the top executives at Goldman Sachs) explains the concept of Mardi Gras. The popular New Orleans tradition had been occurring for over a century when this piece was published, but perhaps it was still only a local celebration.

Cruisin’ with the Guru: The Backseat Revelations of Carlos Santana & Mahavishnu John McLaughlin by David Rensin

The Who: Quadrophenia Reconsidered by Dave Marsh

Godhead Hi-Jinx: Starring the Guru Maharaj Ji by Richard Elman

Blood Feast of Reddy Killowatt: Emerson, Lake and Palmer without Insulation by Lester Bangs

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Killer Staggers On by John Morthland

Guitarists Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin mainly discussed their admiration for Indian spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy in their lengthy feature. Their record labels must have been thrilled with that content. Dave Marsh proclaimed that “Quadrophenia” was the most important album of 1973 yet was disappointed by the relative commercial failure of the outing. In the cover feature, Lester Bangs bantered with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer about technology and incorporating classical themes into rock music. Lester’s conclusion, “The most insufferable snob, the most hateful patronization, is the one that’s unaware, the guileless shiv.” (Note – Keith Emerson was so offended by a previous ELP album review in Creem that he refused to be interviewed).

John Morthland had the best feature in the issue, penned after he spent three days watching Jerry Lee Lewis record in Memphis. Morthland chronicled a chaotic studio environment with dozers of hangers on, Lewis learning songs five minutes before recording them, and booze flowing the entire time. Lewis, perhaps explaining why he never worked with Fleetwood Mac, “I can cut something I never heard before and after two or three takes, it’s a HIT, Killer, it’s ALWAYS a hit.”

Quotable Quotes:

Carlos Santana, “When I looked into (Mick Jagger’s) eyes, I saw myself a year ago – a prisoner of the system, playing what the people wanted, not what the people needed. I felt it would be wrong to offend him because there’s a soul inside that body that wants to be free.”

Dave Marsh, “Pete Townshend is the very model of the 1960s pop star. He is self-conscious, but in control. Dylan’s smarter, Jagger more charismatic, Rod Stewart is sexier, but Townshend has it all under his thumb…The guitar smashing was inspired. Not only did it make the Who famous, it was better than any of the stage-play which has followed. Townshend does more with his guitar than Alice Cooper with an electric chair, gallows, and a guillotine.”

Lester Bangs on ELP, “If there is an energy crisis, these guys amount to war criminals.”

John Morthland on Jerry Lee Lewis, “Last week he was out in California taping a ‘Sonny and Cher Show’ spot and a dramatic role in ‘Police Story.’ He got back in Memphis three days ago, and from all reports hasn’t been near a bed or away from a bottle since coming home.”

J.R. Young on the Carpenters, “Karen & Richard are everybody’s straight brother & sister, down to her ever growing hips (she’s always on a diet) and his search for just the right hair style. They embody America’s search for self esteem and self love, a dream as old as America itself, but a dream suddenly on the rack and being tested.”

Grace: Overall, this issue doesn’t include the expected belly laughs or gut punches of prime Creem, so I’ll go with a B.

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