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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – March 1981 (Volume 12, Number 10) 

When it’s March in Creemland, it’s time for an Annual Readers’ Poll. Longtime Creem faves the Stones, the Who, Led Zep, and Springsteen appeared on the cover alongside younger acts including Van Halen, the Clash, Pat Benatar, and the Pretenders. The biggest surprise may have been The Clash winning the “Best Group of the Year.” Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” won Top Album ahead of AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” a band that had been generally ignored or panned by Creem up to this point. Devo’s “Whip It” was the Top Single. The Rolling Stones, as always, won all the R&B categories. The Blues Brothers were voted the second-best R&B group. Kiss continued to dominate the “Worst Group” category but were replaced by David Lee Roth as “The Most Pathetic of the Year.” Rick Johnson won a case of “Boy Howdy!” as the top “Rock Critic of the Year.” 

The opening page of the issue contains John Kordosh’s obituary/essay regarding the assassination of John Lennon. Kordosh noted, “The Beatles’ overwhelming commercial and aesthetic success has stalked them all – particularly Lennon and McCartney – as solo artists, and undoubtedly led to Lennon’s death. To a world with an insatiable appetite for celebreties, John Lennon was still ‘Beatle John Lennon.’ In America, usually only former presidents are accorded the deference of their title.” 

In Unsung Heroes of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Nick Tosches remembered Arkansas hillbilly artist Skeets McDonald, who is buried in the same graveyard as my paternal grandfather in Greenway, Arkansas.  

Features: 

“Don’t Sit on that Porcupine Fence: Captain Beefheart’s Grown the Best Batch Yet,” by Dave DiMartino 

“The Bus Boys Equal Opportunity Interview,” by John Kordosh 

“The Jam’s Jam: Or, How to Not Break in America (Because You Don’t Want To),” by Chris Saleswicz 

“Iggy Pop: World’s Most Forgotten Boyo Discovered Performing Alternative Service for the Bourgeoisie,” by Richard Riegel 

“Fear of Normalcy: Talking Heads Get Funked (And Like It),” by Toby Goldstein 

“Jim Carroll’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Heart-On,” by Mark Norton 

“Nina Hage’s Guide to Fascinating Womanhood,” by Toby Goldstein 

Dave DiMartino’s piece on Captain Beefheart is interesting, because of his long personal history with the man and his music (“When you’re young you have heroes. Captain Beefheart was mine.”). DiMartino knew as well as anyone the influence Beefheart had on the “new wave” music of the late 1970s.  

John Kordosh interviewed the Bus Boys, who appeared to be on the verge of major success but never made it. After doing a quick Google search, I was surprised to learn that the BusBoys, as they are now called, released new music in 2022.  

The Jam sounded like a band who knew the door was quickly closing for a chance to be successful in the U.S.  

Richard Riegel penned a sharp historical overview/think piece/concert review on Iggy Pop. David Byrne seemed to be still in his quirky, weirdo phase in his interview with Toby Goldstein (“I’m optimistic about the potential of humans”).  

Jim Carroll didn’t come across as a poet/writer dabbling in rock ‘n’ roll in his interview with Mark Norton. Unfortunately, his dedication to the form didn’t result in any sustained success.

Quotable Quotes:   

Rick Johnson reviewing Blondie, “Plainly speaking, ‘Autoamerican’ is indisputedly the biggest bomb by a major act since Christianity.” 

Captain Beefheart, “I don’t do BUM-BUM-BUM – you know, mama heartbeat drums. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to put that much emphasis on a heartbeat, because a heartbeat…well, I don’t want my heart to attack ME so I don’t do that. I won’t.” 

Bryan O’Neal of the Bus Boys, talking about the Talking Heads and auditioning to be a rock critic, “Especially their current album (‘Remain in Light’), it’s a totally unique synthesis of different black and Anglo influences…there’s a culmination of both ethnic and thematic influences that creates a unique entity and therefore revolutionary music.” 

Paul Weller, “It Seems like we’ve just wasted a lot of time (in America) when we could have been playing to a much more positive response to audiences elsewhere.” 

Iggy Pop, “If you’re so dumb as to come up with an idea, you’ll be crushed to mush!” 

Richard Riegel on Iggy Pop, “I’m certain that the hyperbolic guy who graced Bogart’s stage tonight really is the true rock ‘n’ roll archetype most people seem to find in Bruce Springsteen.”  

David Byrne, “I never thought most of new wave music was revolutionary. I think most new wave music is – crap.”  

Jim Caroll, “In the neighborhood where I grew up, being a poet meant you were a wimp or some sissy or a fag.” 

Michael Davis, “Motorhead is one of the most powerful, bonebruising units in the current heavy metal minefield. I mean it: wind ‘em up and watch ‘em roll over the heaviest of the new generation of metal bands – Def Leppard, Tygers of Pain, Saxon, Iron Maiden – without even taking a breather.” 

Summary: For over four decades, that Rick Johnson line about Blondie has never failed in cracking me up. 

Grade: A- 

Latest price on eBay: $14.00 to “Buy It Now.” 

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