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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – May 1973 (Volume 4, Number 12)

We make a leap of six months forward in our latest review of Creem magazine, from the November 1972 issue to the May 1973 issue. My collection of the early years of Boy Howdy! is rather paltry – this is my fourth issue and it is the four-year anniversary of the magazine. Dave Marsh estimates that 100,000 people are regularly reading the magazine at this point. In terms of design and content, Creem has settled into the feisty rag that hurls opinions about popular culture like pipe bombs, yet still has room for pieces about blues legends and forays into hardware, such as the latest developments in stereos and synthesizers. In terms of staff changes, the former Connie Warren is now Connie Kramer, having married publisher Barry Kramer. Also, former mailroom employee Jaan Uhelszki has been promoted to a staff position and the staff has been expanded to include the names Iris Charmer and Linda Pravel. Although 1970s rock magazines were generally thought of as boys’ clubs, during this timeframe, one third of the staff were female employees.

We learn in Rock ‘n’ Roll News that Keith Moon has purchased a $35,000 Rolls Royce. Using an inflation calculator, $35,000 in 1973 is the equivalent of approximately $225,000 in 2022. I hope it’s still in the family.

Features:
Roxy Music: Terror in the Rue Morgue by Lisa Robinson

Jethro Tull in Vietnam by Lester Bangs

Travel Around the Country Playing Music by the Hour by Ed Ward (a piece on Asleep at the Wheel prior to the release of their debut album)

The Man Who Tried to See the Groundhogs by T.S. McPhee

The features represent a broad swath of popular/semi-popular music during timeframe. Lester Bangs uses Jethro Tull as a platform to examine rock music as theatrical concert spectacle with typical, almost offhand, brilliance. Lisa Robinson catches a somewhat nervous Roxy Music, who had a Top Five U.K. hit in 1972 with “Virginia Plain,” but are virtually unknown in the U.S. Ed Ward does a deep dive on the origins of Asleep at the Wheel, at a time when covering Ernest Tubb and playing Western swing music was a radical musical path. You can still catch these three acts on tour in 2022.

There is a piece on reissued blues albums from Michael Goodwin that includes Elmore James, Professor Longhair, John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, etc. One of the artists included is Johnny Shines, who I knew absolutely nothing about until yesterday. Courtesy of my friend Tom Trusnovic’s “Buncombe Shinola” YouTube channel, I learned that Shines was a Delta blues artist who played with Robert Johnson in the 1930s. Somehow, he landed a spot in Roger Corman’s 1971 horror flick “The Velvet Vampire” and in 1974 he recorded with Dave Bromberg’s band, that included Mark Bell (a.k.a, Marky Ramone) on drums. From Robert Johnson to the Ramones – what a life!

Quotable Quotes:

Mick Jagger asked about the whereabouts of Bianca while in Australia, “You don’t take your wife to work with you do you?”

Unknown staff member, “Richard Carpenter, of The Carpenters, was involved in an Ontario, Ca. motorcycle accident which left him with a broken right leg and two broken left wrists (which were pretty limp already).”

Lisa Robinson, “Onstage, lead singer Bryan Ferry seemed like a perfect rock star sex symbol. There was something about the way he stood and slithered around the stage, the sly, slightly malevolent posing and humor – all of it seemed to contain a promise of danger and romance.”

Lester Bangs on Jethro Tull, “You can reach a point in the creation of something when the trappings and the tinsel and the construction become so important that it really doesn’t matter what’s inside. The whole show can be a total contrivance: ultra-formulaic music, jive bits of business for punctuation, cabooses loaded with props, choreographed postures and preenings, even the audience enlisted to give it right back on cue, educated in the process through past concerts and festival movies. The whole thing can be just that vacuous and, because someone has taken the trouble to entertain them, everybody still goes away happy. Showbiz is funny that way.”

Vince Aletti, “Stevie Wonder has almost singlehandedly dragged Motown back into the avant garde of black popular music.”

Ed Ward, “(Asleep at) The Wheel backed Stoney (Edwards) at the 1971 Country Deejay’s Convention in Nashville, and then went off on a thirty-day tour with him in a Winnebago camper that had such a low ceiling that 6’10’’ Ray (Benson) couldn’t stand up in it. Part of the tour was a package deal, and (the band) not only got to back up Stoney, but also artists as Freddie Hart, Connie Smith, Dickey Lee and LaWanda Lindsay. ‘We worked hard on that tour, says Ray, ‘sometimes six hours a day, and we didn’t get paid a cent.’”

Ben Edmonds on Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies” album, “Much of the horror-show material threatens to become almost a parody of Alice’s trademark menace, dull musical frames on which are hung self-consciously ghoulish sentiments. Yet even these relative failures will be openly embraced by Alice’s audience, simply because ghoulishness, no matter how one-dimensional, is what the audience expects of Alice Cooper. And, perhaps, more than anything else, Alice Cooper in 1973 is about giving the audience exactly what it wants. Nothing more, nothing less. With ‘Billion Dollar Babies,’ as with so many albums lately, the proof is not in the pudding at all, but in the number of spoons in the pudding.”

Dave Marsh on Bruce Springsteen, “Springsteen is possibly the only man in America who could out talk a rock critic, even if he spotted the rock critic a hit of speed, and he could do it because he doesn’t give a shit how big a fool he makes of himself, he don’t spend his time making up all kinds of fancy-ass phrases, he couldn’t pronounce Roget if you stuck a .38 in his mouth and threatened to pull the trigger.”

Lester Bangs on the Blue Oyster Cult’s “Tyranny and Mutation” LP, “’Tyranny and Mutation’ will blow you over like no record in recent memory. The BOC are often verbally obtuse and the words themselves indistinct, but they succeed regularly in flashing some chrome Orwellian/sleaze tabloid image at you and then whirling away.”

Rock-A-Rama review of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Woooooooooo, Zeeeeepraaahh mmmmmmmmmmmmmmssic bluuuuuuuuusctch quaaaaaaalooooooood faaaaaaaaaaar ooouuuuttt (to be read in quadrophonic sound).”

Grade: Really solid issue with first rate contributions from Lester Bangs and Ed Ward. Grade: A

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