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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – October 1988 (Volume 19, Number 12)

With Creem winding down production, it was fitting for Jimmy Page to return to the cover for the October 1988 issue. While not always the most fascinating interview subject, Led Zeppelin was championed within America’s Only consistently and Page never escaped the massive shadow of that band. Page was promoting his solo album “The Outrider” in this interview. Years later he described the LP as “demo-like compared with those overproduced albums that came out at that time.” Page on his work, “The guitar is great therapy for me. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I’d lived without the guitar.” Regarding music during the 1980s, Page said, “In England there has been a steady flow of what is more image-pop bands coming now. But that’s all reflected through media, you see. It’s more image than music because it’s more producers’ records than musicians’ records…It almost comes to a point where one is very disposable.”   

The passing of Nico (whose real name was Christa Päffgen) at the age of 49 was reported in “Rock ‘n’ Roll News.” The news item noted, “She was an ethereal presence, a unique voice, and she wil be missed.” 

As of this issue, the Editorial Staff was: Deb Sprague (Editor), Steve Peters (Senior Editor), and Harold DeMuir (Associate Editor).  

Features: 

“Camper Van Beethoven: Surfin’ L.S.D.,” by Deb Sprague 

“Brian Setzer: A Mighty Sailin’ Man,” by Sharon Liveton 

“Crowded House: With Three You Get Egg Roll,” by Deb Sprague 

“Jimmy Page: Gibsons, Groundhogs, and Gin,” by Elianne Halbersberg 

“Midnight Oil: Twelve O’Clock High,” by Michael Davis 

“The Moody Blues Get Rhythm,” by Hank Bordowitz 

“Don’t Try to Lay No Boogie-Woogie On Prefab Sprout,” by Karen Schoemer 

Deb Sprague penned an excellent feature on Camper Van Beethoven. Lead singer David Lowery was an interesting mix of serious and comical as the band was promoting their major label debut, 1988’s “Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart.” 

Brian Setzer was experiencing the solo career blues, which he blamed on his record label. Shortly after this interview was published, the Stray Cats reunited. 

Tim Finn seemed like an unblinking realist in his interview with Deb Sprague. Finn, “I really have no delusions. I know what business I’m in and I know it’s not particularly savory.” 

Michael Davis interviewed Jim Hirst of Midnight Oil and wrote a fine history of the band, from the members discovering each other as “schoolkids” to the international success of “Beds Are Burning.”

The Moody Blues released their final Top 40 U.S. single in 1988 (“I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”). Hank Bordowitz interviewed John Lodge, who defended the idealism of the 1960s, talked about creating the band’s own record label, and discussed the logistics of a large scale touring operation.  

Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout discussed his admiration for Burt Bacharach, Broadway music, and his evolution as a songwriter in his interview with Karen Schoemer.

 

Outside of the features, there are a few solid contributions from Holly Gleason, a “New Beats” piece on Webb Wilder and a fun look at Nashville’s “Fan Fair Celebration.” 

Quotable Quotes:   

Chuck Eddy, “Because I was hatched in 1960, not 1950, I’ve been able to experience rock as a (‘mere’) product from the gitgo. Grow up surrounded by Beatles and Stones and Motown, and that stuff’s bound to sound not so magnificent to you – ‘Satisfaction’ to me is mainly just a catchy song I’ve heard on the radio a lot.” 

Chuck Eddy, “In rock criticism, there’s this recurring theme where a singer or band or movement comes along and miraculously saves the world, and keeps saving the world over and over again, but the idea contradicts the anyone-can-do-it democracy at the music’s core. Rock critics trying to justify their questionable career-choice by shrouding music in mystique, and that’s why imperfect-but-‘important’ concept-works like ‘Sgt. Pepper’s,’ ‘Never Mind the Bollocks,’ ‘The Message,’ ‘Thriller,’ and ‘Sun City” are so overvalued. The implication is that rock should somehow make you a more well-rounded person, but of course that’s baloney.” 

David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven, “It’s very tempting to try to get a big audience reaction by playing everything they want to hear. It makes you feel good, but I think we’d rather show our (laughs) depth…and artistic sensitivity…”. 

Brian Setzer, “Everybody knows who I am. If I walk into a gas station the guy pumping gas knows my name. But when I walk into EMI, they call me Brian Seltzer.” 

Setzer, “There will probably be another Stray Cats record. I miss playing that stuff, with a real slap bass. We were the best in the world at that.” 


Tim Finn on the Crowded House ‘Temple of Low Men’ album, “I suppose we were trying consciously to break out of the role of ‘Those happy-go-lucky wacky Antipodeans.’” 

Deb Sprague on Pere Ubu’s “The Tenement Year” album, “These soundtrackers of Cleveland are further ahead of their time than ever.” 

Michael Davis, “What Midnight Oil have done is to re-invent folk-rock on their own continent.” 

Summary: There isn’t a single article in this issue that you can’t live without and there also isn’t a single article that isn’t very good. 

Grade: A- 

Latest price on eBay: $19.99 or “Best Offer.” 

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