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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1972 (Volume 4, Number 6)

The first thing you notice about the November 1972 issue of Creem is how unsightly the cover is, clearly one of the worst in the history of the magazine. The cover pic is presumably of Gregg Allman, however, his head is completely obliterated by the magazine’s logo.

Additions to the magazine’s staff include future major label publicist Ruthanne Ponnech and returning staff designee Richard Pinkston. Mr. Pinkston, who sometimes used the byline Richard Allen Pinkston IV and also worked as a deejay/freelancer using the pseudonym Rick Allen, was a black Detroit teenager when he was befriended by the Creem staff. He developed a close relationship with Lester Bangs (Bangs quoted Pinkston in his 1979 Village Voice piece “The White Noise Supremacists”) and may have contributed to the magazine longer than any other writer. Sadly, he passed away in 2018 and, as far as I know, never gave any public interviews about his history with the magazine.

In housekeeping notes, in what seems to be a planned swap, Greg Shaw’s “Juke Box Jury” column has returned and there is no contribution from Vince Aletti in this issue. In the “Mail” section, Lester Bangs is threatened with possible death for his negative thoughts regarding “Exile and Main Street” and there’s an unrelated, thoughtful letter from underground cartoonist/poster artist “The Mad Peck” (a.k.a., John Peck) about Phil Spector. Peck would later be a regularly cartoon contributor to the magazine. In Rock ‘n’ Roll News, we learn that Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and Paul Kantner were beaten and maced by Akron, Ohio police after a crowd control effort got out of hand. Insert “Don’t You Want Somebody to Shove” joke here.

Lennon as Lenin: The Christian Anti-Communist Crusade by David Batterson (a piece on “rock theology”

The Allman Brothers: Snapshots of the South by Ben Edmonds

Dust My Pumice by Richard Meltzer (a somewhat stream of consciousness or unconsciousness examination of Old Crow whiskey)

The Religious Frenzy of the Fireside Theater by John Ingham (a continuation from the October issue)

John Coltrane Lives by Lester Bangs

In the features section, David Batterson interviewed Billy James Hargis of the Tulsa, Oklahoma based Christian Crusade organization and Hargis supplied several typical anti-rock, anti-music press quotes. The article doesn’t break any new ground, but a few years later Hargis (at the age of fifty) was required to step down as president of American Christian College for allegedly having sex with a male and female student. The more things change…

Bed Edmonds conducted a deep cultural dive on “Snapshots of the South,” which is an article about Capricorn Records owner Phil Waldren and the town of Macon, Georgia, as much as it is about the Allman Brothers. It’s an excellent piece with Southern slice-of-life vignettes and details about the operational side of the music business.

“John Coltrane Lives” is my favorite fiction piece by Lester Bangs. In the story, Lester’s free jazz dreams collide with the noise pollution realities of apartment living. After a confrontation with his landlady, he winds up in the slammer. The conclusion: “I sat down and lit a cigarette, and a tough looking black dude about 30 years old bummed one from me. ‘Whut you in for?’

‘Being ahead of my time.’

He just looked at me. For a second, I thought he was going to laugh, but he didn’t. ‘Yeah, he said. ‘Me too.’”

Toward the end of the issue there is a special section on “Blues and Jazz” that seems well meaning, even if the end results are somewhat pro forma. Still, it’s good to see Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Freddie King, and Hound Dog Taylor in the pages of Creem.

Quotable Quotes:

David Bowie on Marc Bolan, “Bolan isn’t camp, he’s prissy. Prissy and fey. But that’s right for the age group he wants to appeal to, ‘cause they’re all fey.

Zelma Redding (Otis Redding’s widow): “We had an all-night barbeque out at the farm in 1967. A convention was being held in Atlanta, and we invited all the disc jockeys. There were six Greyhound busloads and all the cars could fit on the property. We had a bar set up, and to feed everybody we killed 5 hogs, 2 cows and…we just had everything. We even had a show – we had Sam and Dave, Arthur Conley, all of the artists were there. Why, everybody came! It was beautiful…”.

Label executive Phil Waldren, “Duane Allman actually gave the song ‘Hey Jude’ to Wilson Pickett. He brought it in and played it and Wilson started singing ‘hey jew’ and then said ‘I don’t think Jerry Wexler’s gonna like me singing that; running down his religion.’ “No, no’ we told him, ‘it’s hey, JUDE, the name of a person, a name of a man. ‘Shit,’ said Wilson ‘I ain’t singing no fag songs…’. He sang it though, and that established Duane as a session guitarist.”

Dave Marsh on The Band’s “Rock of Ages” album, “Indeed, there probably isn’t a group with more raw courage in all of rock ‘n’ roll. They’re still here: the Band, playing the Music. Longer than almost anyone and better, too.” This feels like an intended grand pronouncement that devolved into a popcorn fart.

Grade: Ben Edmonds and Lester Bangs carry the day; the Meltzer and Fireside Theater pieces suffer from self-indulgence. Grade: A-

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