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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – May 1975 (Volume 6, Number 12

The May 1975 issue of Creem includes lengthy features on two of the defining musical acts of that decade – Led Zeppelin and Elton John. Lisa Robinson did a superb job documenting the Led Zeppelin touring circus, replete with private plane shenanigans, desperate fans, Robert Plant’s wit, Jimmy Page’s moodiness, and the larger-than-life character that was manager Peter Grant.

Elton John came across as completely engaging in his Q and A with Jaan Uhelzski and Lester Bangs, discussing his interests and opinions without ever getting defensive. In fact, he commented that he got a big kick out of a negative album review from the magazine. On a side note, the excellent cover illustration of Elton was the handiwork of Dearborn, Michigan based artist Gary Ciccarelli. Ciccarelli has done art projects for various business for decades and even designed a series of U.S. treasury bonds in the late 1990s.

In the budding rock critics category, there is a letter and a “Rock-A-Rama” album review from Mark Jenkins, most likely the same person who later worked for NPR, the Washington Post, USA Today, etc. As a reflection of how serious albums were treated at the time, Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks,” which had been negatively reviewed in the previous issue, gets two rebuttals in the form of reviews by Kit Rachlis and Paul Nelson. Elsewhere, Ed Ward raved about the Greil Marcus book “Mystery Train,” Jaan Uhelzski penned one of her best reviews on Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti,” and Robot A. Hull contributed a wonderfully droll review of Olivia Newton-John’s “Have You Never Been Mellow” album.

Features:

Dr. John: Witch Doctor Makes a House Call by Patrick Goldstein

Led Zeppelin Dances on Air and It Ain’t the Quaalude Shuffle by Lisa Robinson

The Faces: Who Are Still Kicking by Lester Bangs

Steve Marriott’s Bad Old Days by Jim Esposito

The Elton John Interview by Jaan Uhelszki and Lester Bangs

The Dr. John piece is a fascinating look at New Orleans’ culture and Dr. John’s coming of age experiences in the local juke joints. Lester Bangs caught the Faces toward the end of what seemed to be their perpetual holding period after Rod Stewart became a famous solo act. They disbanded later that year.

Quotable Quotes:

Lester Bangs nailing the personality of future shock jock Don Imus, “His specialty: creative scatological ethnic baiting.”

Dr. John, “Don’t you go and think that we’re some glitter-rock sandbox band. We’re just in keeping with an old line New Orleans tradition. Music was always part of the celebration – either a funeral or a house party. So it was just natural for us to dress up for our end of the festivities.”

John Bonham, “I’d like to have it publicized that I came in AFTER Karen Carpenter in the ‘Playboy’ drummer poll. She couldn’t last ten minutes with Led Zeppelin.”

Robert Plant on potentially attending a Leonard Cohen party, “Well, I suppose we could rush about tossing quaaludes around to lift everybody’s spirits.”

Robert Plant, “It’s not just that we think we’re the best group in the world, it’s just that we think we are so much better than whoever is Number Two.”

Lester Bangs on the Faces, “I like them because they have the most perfect balance of sloppiness and discipline I have ever seen in a working band.”

Elton John, “I used to have pictures of Dusty (Springfield) stuck on my wall…about 400 of them. She was my idol. Dusty had a desperate desire to be needed.”

Jaan Uhelski on Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to My Nightmare” album, “The party’s over…Alice has been defanged and dethroned. Even Helen Reddy’s ‘Angie Baby’ has more shock appeal.”

Robot A. Hull on Olivia Newton-John, “You can just feel her eyes sparkling, her soft lips caressing, and her hair swinging freely to the bounce of the melody. That’s one helluva cliché, but that’s Olivia Newton-John, a pop beauty queen absolutely coated in Pristeen.”

Summary: Everything works in this issue, even Creem Dream

Grade: A

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