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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – September 1981 (Volume 13, Number 4)

Journey, the musical equivalent of extended dry heaves, made the cover of the September 1981 issue, along with a smaller pic of Van Halen. Dave DiMartino’s article on the band is a case study in wry humor. Consider this: “There are many ways to conduct an interview. You can be very nice, ask questions like ‘What was it like recording your new album?’ and later be known as an ‘inoffensive’ interviewer. You can also be horrid, ask questions like ‘You realize you sound like a DUCK when you sing?’ and have lots of short interviews. By combining both approaches, you can ask, “Lots of people say you sing like a duck – what do you think about THAT?” Nice people will answer questions like that and get mad at ‘lots of people.’ But not at you, the interviewer. This interesting approach is often very fruitful.” Dave then went on to interview Steve Perry with “many people say” phrased questions. There’s no way to communicate how funny this entire piece is – a must read.  

The death of Roy Brown, of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” fame, was reported in “Rock ‘n’ Roll News” and Johnny Thunders had been busted in Los Angeles for “internal possession” of drugs. Also, check out this bit of premonition, “The Beach Boys are touring for the first time in 20 years without Carl Wilson…Since Brian and Dennis Wilson have been known to tour on and off with the band over the years, does this mean the group will become a vehicle for (God forbid!) Mike Love?” 

Features: 

“Independent Record Labels: The Good, The Small and the Persistent,” by John Kordosh 

“The Clash Face the Unruly Mobs: Bondage at Bonds,” by Michael Barnard 

“Swiss Conspiracy Continues Unabated! Krokus and the Chocolate Dilemma,” by John Kordosh 

“The Ramones Pump Iron: So This is What They Call Hard Rock,” by Toby Goldstein 

“Wendy & The Plasmatics: 1984 Will Be a Little Early,” by Edourd Dauphin 

“Robert Gordon Likes Pop! Retro Rocker Brush Cuts The 80’s!,” by Bill Holdship 

John Kordosh penned a piece on relevant independent record labels with a bit of a history lesson in his inimitable humorous style. He also interviewed Krokus, a Swiss metal band he somewhat enjoyed because of or despite their “banal and smutty lyrics.”  

Michael Barnard wrote about a series of live gigs by the Clash at Bonds, a Times Square disco. After selling tickets that doubled the capacity of the venue, a second show was cancelled by fire marshals. Still, the band ended up playing 17 gigs at the venue in May and June of that year. It had to beat Branson.  

Toby Goldstein interviewed Joey and Johnny Ramone who were still being civil to each other in public in 1981. Their tone was also much more positive about the band’s career arc than it would be later in the decade.  

Edourd Dauphins’ piece on the Plasmatics was highly entertaining, with a particularly humorous Creem style satirical intro about getting the writing assignment while staying at a nuthouse…I mean, a sanitarium. 

Bill Holdship, in his first feature of Creem, interviewed rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon and was floored by his live set, which proved “that rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form, still exists – just a bunch of crazy cats losing control at the dance hall on Saturday nights. 

Quotable Quotes:   

Toby Goldstein, learning this lesson before the rest of us did, “When Johnny Rotten sang ‘and we don’t care’ four years ago, I’d never have assumed he was referring to the way he felt about his fans and his friends.” 

John Kordosh on Chris Von Rohr of Krokus, “Astute readers will notice that I’ve written many of Von Rohr’s comments phonetically. I’ve done this for two reasons. First of all, this piece might be considered for a Pulitzer Prize next year and I don’t wanna get nailed on some trivial technicality. Secondly, he talks funnier than anything I can make up.” 

Chris Von Rohr, “Switzerland is a rich country, how can there supposed to be a punk scene?” 

Johnny Ramone on the fatigue of a Ramones performance, “You take off your jacket after ten songs – that revives you. It starts feeling like a 50 pound weight on your back.” 

Joey Ramone, “It’s been tougher for us than for anybody. I feel like the underdog. We came out first and everyone else seems to have made it.” 

Edouard Dauphin on the Plasmatics, “The most visually bizarre and exciting group since…since who? Did Jack The Ripper have a band? How about Atilla The Hun? Rasputin?” 

Wendy O. Williams, “England is run my monkey-brained Fascist farts. We don’t wanta play there.” 

Robert Gordon, “I think you have to feel the pain to convey what’s going on.” 

Rick Johnson on “The Partridge Family,” “Let us not forget Chris and Tracy, a pair of child actors so wiped out they make autism look like tap dancing.” 

Jonathan Cain on his experience as a member of the Jonathan Cain Band, “Tony Outeda from Foghat (author’s note – their manager) comes up to me and says ‘You think you’re SO COOL. And I said, ‘No, buddy, don’t COME ON TO ME like this. He says ‘Why don’t you let the OTHER guys in the band sing, why don’t you let the guy with the HIGH VOICE sing? I say ‘The guy with the high voice ain’t got the BALLS to sing. I’m the fuckin’ singer, and if wants to challenge me, he’ll go for it. He ain’t got the GUTS, he don’t wanna sing with me like THAT.’ I say ‘You think I don’t let him sing – you’re full of SHIT. He’s got no BALLS, he ain’t a rock ‘n’ roll singer. I am.” 

Rick Johnson on Kraftwerk’s “Computer World” album, “A couple of these tunes are catchy in a sticky sort of way. So is spilled coffee, and I don’t see anyone lining up to lick my desk.” 

Summary:  Creem continued to split the difference between AOR and punk, balancing the cover acts with features on the Clash, the Ramones, and the Plasmatics. And who would have guessed that the best piece was on Journey.

Grade: A  

Latest price on eBay: $7.10 or “Best Offer.” 

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