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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – October 1979 (Volume 11, Number 5

“Is Heavy Metal Dead?” Creem pondered on the cover of their October 1979 issue. One is reminded that the definition of “heavy metal” was much broader during this era, as Queen, Boston, and Heart were featured as representative metal acts. The concept allowed Rick Johnson to take aim at a variety of acts in his inimitable way.  For example, on Led Zeppelin, “Old Crisco lungs sounds like he’s singing through a fish tank filter.” Boston – “What they really need to install is at least one more chord progression.” Ted Nugent – “As formulaic as a meat processing plant.” Thin Lizzy – “I’m not sure whether to go fluff up the pillows on their deathbed.” Rush – “The voice of Geddy Lee sounds like snip ‘n’ fix time at the kennel.” The Runaways – “The band’s entire catalogue is currently being played to apes in the San Diego zoo to teach them to writhe in pain.” 

In “Rock ‘n’ Roll News,” it was reported that Chuck Berry was sentenced to four months in prison and required to give 1,000 hours of benefit concerts as punishment for tax evasion. Chuck gigs would become an all cash proposition after this point. It was also noted that Lowell George of Little Feat had passed away from a heart attack.  

Devo took some time out for fun to be the “Creem’s Profiles” act, while Cheap Trick emphasized their cool/nerd vibe in the calendar “Poster” photo. 

Features: 

“Todd Rundgren: Video-Tripping with the Perfect Master,” by Toby Goldstein 

“(Song) Birds of a Feather Invade Their Homeland” – Susan Whitall and Linda Barber on Lene Lovich and Penny Valentine on Rachel Sweet 

“Yummy Yummy, Chewy Chewy: A Bubblegum Yarn,” by Robot A. Hull, Dr. Oldie, and “Big” Al Pavlow 

“Talking Heads: More Songs About Typing and Vacuuming,” by Barbara Cherone 

Todd Rundgren philosophized about production work, ranted about rock critics, and was exploring a new venture called a “video disc” in an entertaining interview with Toby Goldstein.  

Lene Lovich was literally at home in suburban Detroit, her mother lived there. Meanwhile, a teenage Rachel Sweet reminded author Penny Valentine of Brenda Lee (coming on strong), Patsy Cline, and Janis Joplin.  

Robot A. Hull traced the history of bubblegum music from the girl group era to the Archies to 1970’s disco. Like his pieces on “punk”/garage rock, these are the type of history projects where Mr A. Hull truly shined.  

Barbara Cherone chatted with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads. Tina praised the work of producer Brian Eno (“Eno is the only person who understands David (Byrne’s) guitar playing”) and struggled with image issues as a female rocker (“I don’t want to distract the music with designer clothes”). 

Nick Tosches penned one of his best “Unsung Heroes of Rock ‘n’ Roll” columns on Louis Jordan, the pride of Brinkley, Arkansas.  

Quotable Quotes:   

Penny Valentine on Rockpile, “These days, to be firmly in the rock ‘n’ roll tradition seems so innocent I suppose. It doesn’t seem like quite enough anymore.” 

Todd Rundgren, “Rock criticism is the easiest thing to write because it requires no skill at all!…So many magazines got all these names you never heard of, y’know, Robot A. Hull and all these other weird fictitious rock critics – the Christgau record report, which is like the cornflakes of record reviews.” 

Rachel Sweet, “I don’t object to that kind of Broadway singer stuff, but you can’t do that and get 15,000 kids excited, which is what I want to do.” 

Chris Frantz, “We broke the ice for a lot of bands. We were the first of the new wave bands to make the charts.” 

Tina Weymouth, “I haven’t exploited being female ‘cause it’s better to save those things.” 

Nick Tosches on Louis Jordan and Race Records from the 1940s, “Although he is largely forgotten today, Jordan did more to define Hep and to prepare white folks for the coming of rock ‘n’ roll than any other man of that era.” 

Rick Johnson, “Heavy metal is rock ‘n’ roll that gives your ears the urge to make voodoo dolls of your stereo speakers.” 

Billy Altman on the debut album by The B-52’s, “An album of faith, of faith in that old axiom, ‘Rock ‘n’ roll can’t change the world, but it can change your life.’ There is heart and soul abounding here.” 

Mitch Cohen on The Cars’ “Candy-O” album, “The Cars are very much in our time, have achieved an absolute pop-electrosynthesis with a motor that is indisputably (but not overtly) rock ‘n’ roll.” 

Summary: A potent mix of Louis Jordan, bubblegum, and heavy metal. 

Grade: A 

Latest price on eBay: $12.99 to “Buy It Now.”

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