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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – March 1976 (Volume 7, Number 10)

We get the chewy candy that was the 1975 Readers Poll in the March 1976 issue of Creem. Led Zep won Top Album with “Physical Graffiti.” The Rolling Stones were named Best Group and Best Live Group. Some of my favorite head scratching winners: Best R&B Album – David Bowie, “Young Americans”; Best Jazz Album, Jeff Beck, “Blow by Blow”; and Best R&B Group – The Rolling Stones. 

Two issues drew a huge amount of ire in the “Mail” Section of this issue – the cover illustration of the January 1976 issue displaying John Denver as the baby Jesus (“sacrilege”!) and a negative review of an Olivia Newton-John album (“You have no right calling her a bitch or tearing her down calling her unemotional”). The Creem letters feel somewhat like modern-day social media hysteria – after a while you begin to question the sanity of many of the participants.   

Features: 

Rush: Pebbles & Bam-Bam in Alphaville by Rick Johnson 

Peter Frampton: Once More with Feeling by Susan Whitall 

KISS: Pssst! Wanna Buy the Sistine Chapel by Robert Duncan  

Black Sabbath: Frog Princes of Daktari by Kate Phillips 

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Fifths & Fits for the Common Man by Jaan Uhelszki 

Susan Whitall captured Peter Frampton’s polite English charm (and ruminated about his good looks). Jaan Uhelszki interviewed a contemplative Ronnie Van Zant, who was already planning a life that didn’t involve Lynyrd Skynyrd. Otherwise, the features were not particularly strong. The best pieces in the issue were Lou Reed album reviews – Peter Laughner’s punk take on “Coney Island Baby” and Lester’s long, playful look at “Metal Machine Music.” 

Quotable Quotes:   

Roger Daltrey, “Tell Lester (Bangs) if I’m a schmuch, he’s a schmuck too. Takes one to know one.” (I feel as though this quote was captured during a grade school recess). 

Rick Johnson, “Canuck rockers do seem to have some uglier-than-thou competition going among themselves along with a tendency to pounce on unsuspecting ears like a carnivorous dumptruck.” 

Geddy Lee, “Robert Plant and I both have high voices so they expect us to play ‘Whole Lotta Love.’” 

Susan Whitall, “(Peter) Frampton is a direct lineal descendent of every pretty boy rock ‘n’ roller from Ricky Nelson to Fabian to Paul McCartney.” 

Robert Duncan on Kiss, “They represent the most spectacular and the most spectacularly successful marketing achievement in the music division of Business Art school….Me, I hate their music. I hate their make-up. I hate their clothes. I hate their stage show. Have I left anything out? If they own pet ducks, I hate pet ducks.” 

Gary Rossington, “I just grew my hair long so it would cover my red neck.” 

Ronnie Van Zant, “I don’t expect to live very long, because I’m living too fast.” 

Peter Laughner on Lou Reed’s “Coney Island Baby” album, “This album made me so morose and depressed when I got the advance copy that I stayed drunk for three days. I didn’t go to work. I had a horrible physical fight with my wife over a stupid bottle of 10 mg. Valiums (She threw an ashtray, a brick, and a five foot candelabra at me, but I got her down and sat on her chest and beat her head on the wooden floor). I called up the editor of this magazine (on my bill) and did virtually nothing but cough up phlegm in an alcoholic stupor for three hours…”. 

Former Creem writer Patti Smith dubbed a slut…

Summary: Laughner’s review on “Coney Island Baby” is a classic, made more poignant by knowing the self-destruction reflected in the review was not a stage show. 

Grade: B+ 

Latest price on eBay: 17.99 to “Buy It Now.” 

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