The first issue of Creem reviewed in this series was from November of 1971. We leap ahead almost a year now to the October 1972 issue. Comparatively, this issue looks much more like the Creem we know and love with the addition of the long-term columns “The Christgau Consumer Guide” and “Letters from Britain,” as well as a more robust “Mail” section, replete with vociferous outrage, exalting praise, and snappy editorial replies. The staff and freelance roster have expanded – becoming somewhat of who’s who of first-generation rock critics. In the November 1971 issue, future Bomp! Records owner Greg Shaw had a column titled “Juke Box Jury.” Mr. Shaw’s work has been replaced by Vince Aletti’s conversational, gossip tinged “Tighten Up” column.
Humble Pie Eat Out by Cameron “Almost Famous” Crowe
The Only Thing Missing Was Sufis by Michael Rossman (a think piece inspired by a “Conference on Consciousness”)
The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game by Emmett Grogan (a novel excerpt that screams “political favor”)
The Religious Frenzy of the Fireside Theater by John Ingham
I’m Down, I’m Really Down by Wayne Robins (a cover piece on “sopor culture”)
Editorial Staff (Titles Not Listed): Charles Auringer, Barry Kramer, Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau, Dave Marsh, Robbie Cruger, Ric Siegel, Ben Edmonds, Jaan Uhelszki, Alison Karpel, Ed Ward, Greg Karpel, Connie Warren, Gary Kenton, and Bob Wilson
This issue is a tale of two cities. The features are particularly weak with the Fireside Theater piece being comprised of printed versions of their skits, the Humble Pie piece being instantly forgettable, and the title article about Quaaludes is, I’m guessing, you-had-to-be there satire. When the drug piece gets serious in a sidebar, it goes straight into afterschool special territory: “Pharmacy spokesperson: ‘Drugs are only a side-effect. It’s a problem of youth and I’m at a loss as to what to do. Have you got any answers?’” However, one does have to give credit to photographer Tom Bert for his most eye-catching cover pic.
The album review section contains all the action with looks at Van Morrison’s “Saint Dominic’s Preview,” Rod Stewart’s “Never a Dull Moment,” Nilsson’s “Son of Schmillson,” Randy Newman’s “Sail Away,” Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon,” and Elvis’s “As Recorded at Madison Square Garden.” It’s always interesting to go back and read first blush reviews of albums that were later, in many of these cases, considered classics.
Robert Christgau on David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”: “As dull as Jefferson Starship – dumb ideas and amorphous songs.” Grade C+. (The Dean, perhaps not completely unsusceptible to peer pressure, would later write a completely different review of the album and change the grade to a B+).
Kris Kristofferson regarding his participation in a massive Billy Graham “Jesus Rally” at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, “I had no idea it would be like this. This is cuckoo, it’s just like the Isle of Wight or something. I only came because Johnny Cash asked me to. And then they wouldn’t let me sing. You got some television nut-cake screamin’ at you to wait. He was really ugly to Rita (Coolidge). So all my swell religious feelin’ flit.”
Simon Frith on the U.K. music scene, “England is a small country which is ok except London squats on us like a huge bloody leech. Ninety percent of all live rock ends up there and all the paraphernalia of the business – companies and studios and agents and radio and papers and writers. I hate them all. They can’t keep secrets in London – too knowing, too whispering (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), no desperation, no dreams.”
Vince Aletti, “I’m still into the Jackson 5 and ok I know everybody’s gonna be appalled but I had more fun at their recent Madison Square Garden concert than I did at the (Rolling) Stones’. Seriously – or unseriously. They came out ready and just give you dancing and singing calculated down to the last shoulder hunch or breathes sight and it just works.”
Greil Marcus, “(Van) Morrison has a way of making spiritual statements, that would sound either false or trite from almost anyone else, valid and refreshing. He has always, I think, dealt with a certain kind of spiritual representation, a type of self-discovery that is continually essential and essentially continuous.”
Richard Allen Pinkston IV on Michael Nesmith, “He’s not trying to be Texas’ answer to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he’s really somewhere between Will Rogers and Hank Williams.”
Ben Edmonds and Lester Bangs on Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” album: “(The title track) is an absolute masterpiece, because it promulgates the kind of anarchic response most of the rest of the album fails to incite. To hear it come on the radio is to lunge for the dial and turn it all the way up.”
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