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Re: Creem Documentary

Creem Documentary
August 10, 2020 09:17AM
My wife was enthusing over the Creem documentary that just came out Friday for streaming, so we watched it last night. She was a Creem reader eager to revisit the 70s. I was most definitely not. I remember seeing Creem in the convenience store racks as a youth and was put off by what seemed to be the preponderance of Hard Rock/Metal acts on the covers and the vaguely porn-like vibe it wallowed in. Seeing the docu was informative. Kramer was quite a piece of work to begin with without Lester Bangs to act as a volatile catalyst. And I had no idea that Dave Marsh started his career there. Always thought of him as only a Rolling Stone guy. Frankly shocked that Wenner would hire him, though I did like the digs in the film at Wenner's aspirational, upper-middle class train-jumping. Always hated that guy!

I probably understood the early period of the mag run in the Detroit inner city, but was flabbergasted at the "bucolic commune years" of the mag. Also surprised at the successful "suburban years." The False Creem of the 80s isn't even in the crosshairs here, since Kramer's son was the producer. As it should be. I may not have gravitated to the original Creem as it was not for me, but at least it was an unbowed, and idiosyncratic voice in the rock press in its heyday.

Lots of snippets of rock stars effusing over Creem, but hats off to Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers for taking the cake as a vivacious fan who grew up with the mag and certainly grooved on it. The look on his face where he related his discovery that the mag had relocated to his neighborhood in the suburbs and biked over there to arrive at the offices when Alice Cooper was stepping out was priceless. As was his air of regret that he joined the Chili Peppers just too late in the game to ever get coverage as a rock musician himself in the pages. As for actor Jeff Daniels, I still can't figure out why he got screen time in this film.

I did notice that the docu uses the now mandatory Rock docu trope where someone's reminisces are [crudely] animated to depict said outrageous events in the film itself. I first saw this a couple of years ago and now every rock documentary I see has this in it! Did they pass a law or something?

Any Creem fans with this in their sights?

Former TP subscriber [81, 82, 83, 84]

For further rumination on the Fresh New Sound of Yesterday®
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Re: Creem Documentary
August 10, 2020 10:14PM
I read Creem right along with Trouser Press very regularly in the early 80’s. (Like 79-82). I never picked up on any ‘porn-like vibe’ but it’s possible I was too young, dumb and naive. They absolutely gave good coverage of the post punk / new wave bands that I craved. But a teardrop explodes article might very well be followed by Van Halen.

They could have a totally ridiculous sense of humor which I liked, but could maybe be off-putting to some. Rick Johnson wrote for them and he was nuts. “This album is slightly less exciting than seeing bob barker nude”. “If you took the active ingredient out of sleeping on the garage floor and set it to music, you’d get Triumph.” ...this kind of stuff.

I must’ve read j kordosh’s rundown of all the kinks albums about 80 times. I love that article. It’s amazing. I may dig the issue out right now and read it again.

I was unaware of this documentary. Thanks for bringing it up!
Re: Creem Documentary
August 11, 2020 10:47AM
I've not seen the documentary, but I was a dedicated Creem reader. Although the magazine was never as eye-and-ear-opening as TP, it was an essential purchase for me each month, along with Musician and Rolling Stone. (The first interview with Gazza that I ever read was Dave DiMartino's June 1980 article, and the "Gary Numan: Is He Human?" test that that the magazine administered to the Tube in the January 1981 number was pretty funny.) Creem published top-notch writers, from Billy Altman and Nick Tosches to Robert Hull and his mysterious alter-ego Robot A. Hull. Robot's essay on "The Sound and Vision of Psychedelia" is a classic. I also loved Eduoard Dauphin's "Drive-In Saturday" psychotronica reviews. And, of course, the numerous photo captions were always good for cheap laffs. One in particular stands out in my memory: underneath a photo of the Lounge Lizards (the picture was taken from the cover of their excellent debut album), someone--DiMartino, perhaps?--had written, "Eventually they kicked a guy out and became Van Halen!"
Re: Creem Documentary
August 11, 2020 12:47PM
Yeah, Creem could include some pretty funny captions. I remember one of Joan Jett onstage, with a somewhat dumbfounded, vacant expression on her face as she played her guitar. The caption: "Only Joan noticed the anvil plummeting from the helicopter."

Another showed the members of Devo, with Mark front and center with a wide-eyed, somewhat astounded-looking expression. The caption: "Really? L. Ron Hubbard? Where is he?"
Re: Creem Documentary
August 11, 2020 12:49PM
Trouser Press also did similar captions. My favorite was "Peter Wolf demonstrating the dangers of the ungrounded microphone".
Re: Creem Documentary
August 11, 2020 01:48PM
Mr. Robbins made me laugh like hell in the October 1982 number of TP, which featured Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull autodiscography. Anderson recollected “find[ing] the four ugliest women” string players he could get his hands on for the band’s Minstrel in the Gallery tour, and “put[ting] them in horrendous wigs and velvet dresses.” Anderson noted that “the odds were about 3 to 1 that at any time at least one of them would be having her period and be in a foul mood and aggravating the others,” to which Mr. Robbins interjected, “Sorry, girls, Ian’s married!”

Also amusing was the sardonic observation in the July 1983 “Fax ‘n’ Rumors” column that “Another Pretender done gone.” The “Don’t Believe a Word!” feature in the same issue helpfully noted that “Pete Farndon died even though he had already left the Pretenders!!”
Re: Creem Documentary
August 12, 2020 09:48AM
To be fair on two accounts, we totally swiped the impulse for snarky captions from Creem and the NME, and the master of sardonic asides (probably including the Anderson one) was far and away the incomparable Scott Isler, who may well be the most innately sardonic person I have ever known. (My collection of birthday and holiday cards from him is beyond compare.) I appreciate the thought, but I'm just not that funny.
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