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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – October 1974 (Volume 6, Number 5)

From a historical perspective, the October 1974 issue of Creem is noteworthy for including pieces by Dave Marsh on the two acts he would be primarily associated with throughout his  career – Bruce Springsteen and the Who. In his short piece on Springsteen, Marsh connects Springsteen to the excitement of 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll, “The magic of Springsteen harks back to the tradition at least as old as ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘Maybelline.’ What you discover in the hundredths listening is not only music that compels you to listen that often, but a tale that deserves telling.”

As someone who is generally not a fan of Marsh’s work, this piece captured Springsteen’s larger than life spirit and how different he was from his contemporaries. In the piece on the Who, Marsh argued that the Who were better than the Stones, partly because they were “moralists.”   

If you aren’t feeling old enough these days, in the “Rock ‘n’ Roll News” section there is a note about Stevie Wonder’s celebration of his 24th birthday. Also, David Cassidy announced his retirement from concert appearances, and John Lennon had left the arms of May Pang and returned to Yoko. 

This issue includes a letter and an album review by Chicago native Cary Baker. Baker worked in music journalism in the 1970s and then had a long, successful career as a music publicist.  He remains a fountain of knowledge on blues and popular music. 

KISS is the subject of the Creem’s Profiles. This is the first time I’ve seen Jivin’ Gene and His Jokers featured in the magazine. The 1977 issues with KISS on the cover have traditionally been so expensive (KISS kollectors are kompletists) that I’ve never bought them. The “Letter from Britain” is no longer the terrain of the acerbic Simon Frith. This month’s entry was from Ian MacDonald who later authored “Revolution in the Head: The Beatle’s Records and the Sixties.”  That book was so successful that three different editions were released. However, his opinion that “Queen look all set to crumble into obscurity” may have been a tad off target. 

Features: 

C’Mon Sugar, Let’s Go All-Nite Jukin’ with Wet Willie! By Lester Bangs 

Yet Another Side of Bob Dylan by Joe Crater 

Faces, Part I: Rod Promises Some Surprises by Ben Edmonds 

Faces, Part II: …And Woody’s Got Keith Richard by Nick Kent 

Obviously Four Believers: Ten Years on with The Who by David Marsh 

Clapton: Wanted? Dead? Or Alive? By Patrick Carr 

In the first part of the Wet Willie feature, Lester Bangs raved – and I mean, RAVED – about their live show. The second part of the article is about his attempts to serve as a pimp for the band. Moral of the story – southern bands weren’t going to work to try to impress a groupie. Ben Edmonds interviewed a somewhat exasperated Rod Stewart, whose “Smiler” album was in legal limbo and was touring with the Faces, one suspects more out of obligation than choice. Nick Kent covers a practice session and gig by Ronnie Wood supporting his “I’ve Got My Own Album to Do” umm…album. Keith Richards heavy involvement in the gig is interesting, since Wood was two years shy of joining the Rolling Stones. The piece on Eric Clapton is a reprint of a Village Voice concert review and I’ll fall asleep if I have to type anything else about Clapton.

Quotable Quotes:    

Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary on her life before stardom, “I had a child, but was separated. I had no trade, but was too literate for shit work. I was a dreadful waitress.” 

Dave Marsh on seeing Springsteen live, “I expected nothing; I got everything.” 

Ben Edmonds on Rod Stewart, “He plays the Country Gentleman to the hilt, responding to questions as if you’d been granted a friendly audience with some crusty elder statesmen.” 

Keith Richards on producing, “I’m probably gonna produce some stuff for the Rastas…The only other person I’ve ever thought about working in that context was Gram Parsons. That could have been good, but if I were to do something on my own, it would just be ridiculous because it would only sound like the Rolling Stones but without Mick singing.” 

Marsh on the Who, “It would be deliberately provocative to label any band the greatest live rock act in the world, but in the Who’s case, there is truth behind the rhetoric.” 

Bangs on Brian Eno, “This guy is a real sickie, bubs, sick as Alice Copper once was sposed to be, sicker by far than David Bowie’s most scabrous dreams.” This is, of course, a compliment. 

Kathy Miller on the Sparks album “Kimono My House,” “Sparks have reduced the English language to sighs, vowels, syllables, sounds all from the voicebox of Russell, eyepoking la lingua and driving more than one tank-rocker to yank their hair follicles out in clumps. Either like it or don’t, but it works.” 

Summary: There’s a long section on equipment, but that’s in addition to all the usual stuff, so it’s easily skipped. For the rest of the issue, even if you don’t agree with the assessments in each piece, the quality of the writing is well worth the price of admission. 

Grade: A 

Latest price on eBay: $29.00 or “best offer.” 

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