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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1986 (Volume 18, Number 3)

A somewhat bushy looking R.E.M. were featured on the cover of the November 1986 issue of Creem (drummer Bill Berry had a very impressive unibrow at the time). The band was nipping at the edges of mainstream success with “Lifes Rich Pageant” peaking at #21 on the album charts and “Fall on Me” being a Top Five hit on Billboard’s “Mainstream Rock Tracks.” John Kordosh interviewed the band, who were coming off the relative artistic disappointment of the “Fables of the Reconstruction” album. Regarding “Lifes Rich Pageant,” their cover of the obscure garage rock number “Superman” was a matter of significant discussion and celebration. The concept of rock criticism still mattered enough that Peter Buck commented, “I think Robert Christgau has been very fair to us.” When pondering critics at daily newspapers, Buck asked, “Do you think it’s a mired cesspool of no-talent hacks just kissing ass for career advancement?” Kordosh’s response, “It’s a good question.” The band also knocked the concept of music videos and the heavy metal scene. Buck on Motley Crue, “We can play ‘Smokin’ in the Boys Room’ better than they do. We have, as a matter of fact.” Peter Buck wasn’t the human hot dog that David Lee Roth was, but he still seemed to enjoy the attention he was getting.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll News” reported that Wal-Mart had removed “32 rock and teen magazines from their shelves, including, of course, Creem. A spokesperson for the company said, “We are trying to project an image to the public that we are a family retail outlet.” This decision came shortly after legendary non-sinner Jimmy Swaggart railed against a piece in “Hit Parader” “that was very graphic in its sexual detail.” I’m sure ol’ Jimmy just hated that. Also, in the truth is stranger than fiction dept., Tipper Gore sent in a letter, complimenting John Mendelssohn.

The long absent Rick Johnson returned to review David Lee Roth’s “Eat ‘Em and Smile” album, stating the cover of “Tobacco Road” was “about as big a deal as the SECOND worst chuckwagon crash in Calgary rodeo history.”

I believe this is the first issue I’ve seen to include music journalist Chuck Eddy, who contributed a “Rock-a-Rama” review on Austin’s Scratch Acid.

Features:

“R.E.M. – Notes from Near Normaltown,” by John Kordosh

“The George Clinton Interview: Think, It Ain’t Illegal, Yet,” by Iman Lababedi

“The Mechanics of Genesis (In the Non-Biblical Sense),” by Sylvie Simmons

“Peter Gabriel and the Politics of Amnesty,” by Daniel Brogan

“Trick or Treat: Celluloid’s Metal Nightmare,” by Bill Holdship

“Tangerine Dream: And You Don’t!,” by Dave DiMartino

“The Meat Puppets Be Hep!,” by Richard Grabel

Iman Lababedi returned after a long absence, interviewing an extremely talkative George Clinton. Clinton gabbed about Reagan, anti-Semitism, and using humor as a weapon in a thought-provoking interview.

Sylvie Simmons interviewed Mike Rutherford who I’m guessing was the third least interesting person in Genesis.

A short piece on Peter Gabriel talked about his work with Amnesty International and his thoughts on issues such as nuclear power. There was no mention of his #1 pop hit “Sledgehammer.”

Space rocker Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream discussed being influenced by Pink Floyd, Steve Reich, and Phillip Glass, as well as classical music, in a left-of-the-dial piece by Dave DiMartino.

Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets sounded like a man on a regular mushroom diet. The band’s inspiration? “The reason we got together was to be as stupid and imbecilic as possible.”

Quotable Quotes:

Peter Buck, “I hate those people like the Eagles – ‘The Long Run,’ did you ever hear that? Three-and-a-half years, seven fucking songs and Joe Walsh co-wrote one of them. Now THAT’S my idea of lazy.”

Rick Johnson, “I always hated Sammy Hagar. I mean, the guy looks like a dust mop that accidentally went through a creosote pole treatment plant.”

George Clinton, “Society spends millions on human behavior, they’ll sell you anything, but they don’t figure out what it’ll do to you. They just punish you if you go too far.”

Clinton, “We don’t want to be slick, we can go to Motown for that, we don’t want to be correct. We want to be as psychedelic as possible.”

Peter Gabriel, “As a consumer, I don’t want to be lectured.”

Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream, “Germans have no roots in rock music.”

Dave DiMartino on Tangerine Dream’s live show, “There were a lot of bald guys at their concert who probably smoked pipes and read lots of science fiction.”

Curt Kirkwood, “I’ve got stuff that rivals Culture Club in its, I don’t know…in its affinity to style. We haven’t done our Led Zeppelin imitation yet.”

Summary: Excellent pieces on R.E.M. and George Clinton

Grade: A-

Latest price on eBay: $20.00 to “Buy It Now.”

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