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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – March 1978 (Volume 9, Number 10)

Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, and Led Zeppelin were the big winners in the 1977 Readers’ Poll, published in the March 1978 issue of Creem. Fleetwood Mac won best album and single (“Rumours”/”Dreams”), Stevie Wonder won best R&B album/R&B single (“Songs in the Key of Life”/”Sir Duke”). Led Zep took the honors for Top Group, Top Live Group and each member of the band picked up an individual category award – Best Singer/Guitarist/Bassist/Drummer. Shaun Cassidy topped my favorite category, winning “Most Pathetic” of the year and in the most ridiculous vote went for David Bowie as “Best Horn Player,” who outpaced James Pankow, Edgar Winter, Andy MacKay, and Doc Severinsen for the Boy Howdy! gold.  

In a case of legendary bad timing, Gary Valentine sent a letter noting that he was leaving Blondie “to maintain my values as a musician and composer.” In a perfect world, there would be a corresponding letter from Nigel Harrison, noting “Hey, I just won the lottery!” 

“Rock ‘n’ Roll News” reported on Elvis Costello’s infamous appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” Costello was scheduled to perform “Less Than Zero,” but stopped the song and performed “Radio Radio” instead. Looking back at the video now, it seems like the tamest possible act of defiance, but it created a big stink at the time and Elvis was banned from “SNL” for over a decade afterwards.  

Features: 

“The Starship’s Marty Balin: Hippies Have Roots, Too!,” by Patrick Goldstein 

“Fleetwood Mac Causes Brain Damage, Case No. 099: Bob Welch,” by Howard Klein 

“What, He Worry? This Iggy’s No Idiot,” by Ed Ward 

“Flying Turtles of Uranus: A Capsule Dictators History & Manifesto,” by Richard Meltzer 

“Nashville Babylon, Loud Covenants: Jerry Lee Lewis, God’s Garbage Man,” by Nick Tosches 

In his interview with Patrick Goldstein, Marty Balin discussed his empathy for Native Americans and his frustration with Jefferson Starship (“We’re a variety show. I get the crowd in my hands and then I have to go back to the congas”). Balin wasn’t kidding, he left the band later that year. Ed Ward interviewed a philosophical Iggy Pop, who was rehearsing for an overseas tour. Ward, “I walked into the warehouse defensive, ready for anything, but what I got was a polite, articulate guy who smoked Marlboros, talked about the little kids who came around his house, and sent a friend off to get his glasses fixed. GLASSES?” 

The Nick Tosches piece on Jerry Lee Lewis is an excerpt from his book “Country: The Biggest Music in America” (a later edition was titled “Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock and Roll”). Of course, Tosches later penned “Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story,” which is an essential part of any serious music fan’s library. No author ever understood an artist better than Tosches and Jerry Lee.  

Also, there’s a completely gratuitous pic of Elvis Costello with Rick Nielsen, because, in some instances, nerds rule the world.  

Quotable Quotes:   

Tom Waits on punk rock, “It may be revolting to a lot of people, but at least it’s an alternative to the garbage that’s been around for ten years. I’ve had it up to here with Crosby Steals the Cash.” 

Marty Balin, “Sometimes I hate being white.” 

Iggy Pop, “I made an honest try to get out of the music business; there just wasn’t anything else I was skilled for.” 

Iggy, “Be sure to say hi to George Clinton. He was a big inspiration to me.” 

Nick Tosches on Jerry Lee Lewis, “He is the heart of redneck rock-and-roll and, maybe, the greatest country singer alive.” 

Summary:  Nick Tosches, who had largely been absent from Creem for the previous two years, returned to save the day. 

Grade: B+ 

Latest price on eBay: $12.00 or “Best Offer.” 

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