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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – May 1982 (Volume 13, Number 12) 

The Cars, an act popular on both AOR and Top 40 formats, were enjoying their biggest selling single to date with the title track from their 1981 “Shake It Up” album. All five band members looked like they’d rather model Victorian era bloomers than smile as the cover subjects of the May 1982 issue of Creem. Elliot Easton described the mood of the band, “We frown our way to the bank.” (As a side note, the Cars were the most uninspired live act I’ve ever witnessed, and Ric Ocasek noted in this piece that his goal was to perform a “show anti-show.” They would been better as a “no show”). Toby Goldstein penned as good as piece as possible considering the band members were somewhat instinctively defensive and, besides learning about Ric Ocasek’s various side projects, there was nothing newsworthy to be discussed.

The deaths of Alex Harvey, Thelonious Monk, and Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins were noted in “Rock ‘n’ Roll News.” In additional sad news, the passing of John Belushi was noted with a special tribute page in the back of the magazine. A music biz related casualty was the closing of Max’s Kansas City bar in New York.

I believe this is the first Creem to include contributions from Sylvie Simmons. Sylvie wrote often for the magazine for the rest of its existence and is now noted as both a singer/songwriter and as a preeminent expert on the life and music of Leonard Cohen.

This issue also contains an excerpt from the Nick Tosches book “Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story.” I consider this to be one of the best books ever about a rock ‘n’ roll star.

Features:

“The Fleshtones: Primal Rock,” by Michael Goldberg

‘Beyond Revivalism’ Revival: The Blasters’ American Music!,” by Sylvie Simmons

“The Line Forms on the Right, Babe: Ol’ Nick the Knife is Back in Town,” by Bill Holdship

“A View from the Edge: The Cars Don’t Get Easily Amused,” by Toby Goldstein

“The Lamentations of Jerry Lee,” by Nick Tosches

“AC/DC: Death Pooches Lick the Cosmic Bone,” by Sylvie Simmons

Michael Goldberg raved about the garage rock inspired band The Fleshtones, who were not well received as an opening act for the Police in San Francisco’s Cow Palace. Richard Riegel also weighed in on the Fleshtones, noting that their “Roman Gods” album “makes my feet come.”

Sylvie Simmons wrote a very good piece on the Blasters and Dave Alvin carried his load as an articulate interview subject. In the “bands that deserved a bigger audience” sweepstakes, the Blasters would be near the top of that list. On the other end of the spectrum, Sylvie conducted extremely entertaining interviews with Brian Johnson and Angus Young of AC/DC, who were at the height of their arena rock success.

Bill Holdship briefly described Nick Lowe’s achievements and current live show (“The best rock performance I’ve seen in a long, long time”). Nick was always a fantastic interview and he discussed working with Elvis Costello, modern pop music, and his production work in a wide-ranging interview.

Quotable Quotes:

Andy Kaufman on Albert Goldman, “He’s a wimp, he’s a chicken, and he just likes to write bad things about dead people who can’t defend themselves.”

Iman Lababedi on the Au Paurs, “It’s a neat trick: a sexual approach to an anti-sexist subject working from a solidly commercial framework that neither devalues the questions of feminism but seldom hits you over the head with it.”

Michael Goldberg, “The Fleshtones are every garage band that ever burned bright for a moment in the mid-to-late 60’s, from the Standells to the Shadows of Knight, Count 5 to the Seeds.”

Sylvie Simmons on the Blasters, “The Blasters look like five men on parole. Their music is purist but it isn’t pure. It’s punchy, mean and muscular, filthy, raw and fun. It’s indigenous American music – blues, rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, boogie-woogie, r&b and devil rhythms.”

Dave Alvin on Queen, “We didn’t even know who they were – I had a vague idea. I’d seen a tape on ‘Midnight Special’ of ‘We Will Rock You.’ I couldn’t believe people listened to that! It was like being at a high-school football game or something.”

Bill Holdship, “In the background, the Cars are playing ‘Shake It Up’ for their soundcheck, and the modernistic hybrid of Buddy Holly meets Roxy Music once again reaffirms my belief that the best pop music is still being created by those who adhere to Nick Lowe’s philosophy: building on the best and most basic rock elements.”

Nick Lowe, “Rockpile was conceived overnight. We were formed overnight, and we broke up exactly the same way.”

Nick Lowe, “George Jones is tougher than most rockers. He can break your heart, he can rock out, and he’s also lived it which is a damn sight more than a lot of those wimps who are supposedly rock ‘n’ roll.”

Cars drummer David Robinson, “I almost hoped it would fail, so I would have to get a regular job. I figured I was getting old, better learn how to do something new.”

Elliot Easton, “When you’re in Bumfuck, Mississippi, and people are throwing beer bottles at you ,it’s not fun.”

Sylvie Simmons, “AC/DC is still the best hard rock band in the world, and if you’re going to fight about it at least they’re the hardest working.”

Brian Johnson (who sounded like he’d been reading Rick Johnson), “The lads say to me ‘Just fucking ignore them’ when they say he sounds like a xerox of his predecessor.”

Angus Young, “We’re not black magic Satanists or whatever you call it. I don’t drink blood. I may wear black underwear now and again but that’s it.”

Rick Johnson on David Byrne producing the B-52’s, “There are some extra percussion sounds and special effects, but not enough to make you feel like you’re at a pygmy acid-head reunion.”

Summary: How do you make a really good magazine even better? Add Sylvie Simmons

Grade: A-

Latest price on eBay: $9.95 to “Buy It Now.”

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