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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – September 1974 (Volume 6, Number 4) 

Hey, kids!  Wanna learn about the spooky “drug culture” of the 1970s!  The September 1974 issue of Creem is doing a public service for you with “A Luridly Complete Compendium of Drugs and What They Can Do to You.” I was hoping “luridly” would mean a marijuana leaf with a hefty bosom or a Quaalude wearing a hooker skirt, but more on that later.  

This is the first issue in this series that includes a contribution from future Creem editorial staff member Robert Duncan (Robert sent in a Van Morrison concert review included in “The Beat Goes on” section). Duncan had a successful career in advertising after leaving the rock writing world and released “Loudmouth,” a highly acclaimed novel based upon his life experiences in 2020.  

In “Rock ‘N’ Roll News” we learn that a St. Louis attendance record at Kiel Auditorium had been bested by a major act of the early 1970s?  Elton John? Led Zep? Alice Cooper? Nope. Bachman-Turner Overdrive! Those Canadians are never pumping irony when it came to taking care of business.  

Proof that the 70s were different times: Lester Bangs on attending a Barry Manilow concert, “I didn’t know how many faggots were at the Bottom Line that night; I didn’t take a poll of the audience.” I have it on good authority that Manilow was upset at Creem for years based on the determination by Bangs that Barry was “not just a putz but mildly unsettling as a symptom of one of the major viruses of our time.” “Putz” was reportedly an inflaming term for the Copacabana documentarian.  

Features:
Elton John’s DREEM Band  

“I Ain’t No Dylan You Know…”: Steve Stills Interview by Cameron Crowe (Crowe’s first name is spelled as “Camerow” in the piece)  

Stonewall Jackson Ain’t No Nazi: Primevil Career of the Blue Oyster Cult by Lester Bangs

 

Working for Peanuts: Rick Wakeman’s Final Days with Yes, by Gordon Fletcher  

Smack as Catch Can: The Shape of Dope Today by Lester Bangs  

Bryan Ferry Blindfold Test by David Marsh & Jim Miller  

In the Stephen Stills interview, the outspoken guitarist mused that marital bliss is bad for songwriting. He also shared interesting stories/opinions about the CSN&Y album “4 Way Street” (he hated it), Hendrix, Neil Young, the New York Dolls, Bowie, and Alice Cooper. Seems like the guy wanted to be a rock critic! Lester Bangs delved into the history of Blue Oyster Cult, even documenting a time in the late 1960s when Richard Meltzer was the band’s…um…vocalist (Alan Bouchard – “We knew we needed a real lead singer”). Lots of colorful coming of age road stories in this piece.  

In the cover story, Lester Bangs ruminated that drug use had become more ingrained into functional society and then provided commentary of pot, alcohol, “downs,” speed, etc. There’s no significant conclusion to his piece, it’s more of a PSA to educate people on the intended and unintended effects of escaping reality through different substances.  I did laugh out loud at this sentence: “Junkies do lack a certain joie de vivre.” Elsewhere, Bryan Ferry was played “a selection of vintage pop cuts” and provided his thoughts on same. Ferry complimented Frank Sinatra on his phrasing, Elvis for his “magic” voice, and James Brown for providing visual inspiration.  

Quotable Quotes:     

Stephen Stills, “As far as this tour, we did one for the art and music, one for the chicks. This one’s for the cash.”  

Stills, “All of this mascara-rock, creep-rock, whatever you want to call it…it just turns my stomach.”  

Bangs on Blue Oyster Cult, “I love the Blue Oyster Cult, because I have seen and heard them transcend all their absurd and involuted trappings. They are simply a monster band…”.  

Eric Bloom of BOC, “’OD’d on Life Itself’ is funny – a totally bullshit song. Sandy (Pearlman) saw this chick who was totally out of it, a real asshole; she’d OD’d on life. We cracked up. Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn’t; but it’s funny and I sing it with a smile on my face.”  

Gordon Fletcher, “Chances are that (Rick) Wakeman’s exit won’t disturb the band’s balance nearly as much as one might think. Yes has never had to depend on personality in the traditional rock & roll sense. Their collective identity is defined by the proportions of their show.”  

Bangs, “Of all the drugs slavered over here, grass (marijuana) may well be the most insidious because it breeds the most pernicious form of mindless complacency known to man.”  

Bryan Ferry on Frank Sinatra, “One of the great white singers, he would be on my list of top singers. Most of them would be black: Billie Holiday, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding. And one European, Lotte Lenya.”  

Jim Miller on Queen, “Queen’s forte lies in fusing fuzzy sonics with gauzy group harmonies. Led Zeppelin meets the Bee Gees.”  

Buck Sanders, “Bob Wills was the 40’s version of rock and roll.”  

Grade: A (although it’s too bad Lester Bangs never interviewed Barry Manilow)  

Latest price on eBay: $74.99 or “best offer.”  

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