Sex & Drug, Love Cult Takes to Rock n’ Roll! A review of CREEM Magazine’s documentary
BY RYAN DRAG FILM · MUSIC · MUSINGSPhoto by Charlie Auringer
“Are we on? We guttah start the record.”Since the dawn of large brained mammals, a pure mixture of love and hard work will most likely produce something unforgettable, nay…timeless. This is true of CREEM Magazine — a music publication that dared to be “real”. Boastfully exclaiming itself to be: “America’s Only Rock n’ Roll Magazine.” A rag that had the audacity and gusto to propose rock n’ roll is a lifestyle, a culture, a belief in wildness, and fun! These propositions are what the latest documentary most triumphantly exposes, as well as, an America that (for a moment) had a subculture which was vibrant and united against apposing and annoying stiff, boring, fascist, pigheaded, trolls with whom we all still suffer with, making “rules” and governing a free people whom they will never fully understand or represent. As Peter Wolf states: “CREEM was street. For the People.”In fact, this film has come just in-time to entertain a generation of equally aggressive, progressive, and spirited revolutionaries taking to the streets. Hell, I give part of my time on this short trip through life writing for Alt Citizen, because the aim is also true (editors Nasa and Lauren are as rad and committed to new voices in music as anyone). The philosophies put forth by CREEM, inspired me to do so. Music will always be more important than anything besides sleep, nourishment, & love. Music reflects our culture, our inner-thoughts, suppresses stress, can define who We are, and so much more. Hmm, I digress. On to the why? Why this Rock Doc? Why expel more energy into a defunct publication from a few decades back?
Well, CREEM was and is the only music magazine that exemplified Rock. The doc reels expose just how passionate the writers and publishers were (and still are). The organization wasn’t interested in what degree you held (if any) or what extracurricular in-take you enjoyed. They exploited the industry for what it truly is…chaos. You know…drugs, sex, & Rock n Roll! Boy Howdy!
The magazine was laid out like some twisted teen beat, mad, 70s smut, rail-train magazine, and it was beautiful. The words inside where insightful and borderline poetic. Beginning in Detroit, this was a feat. As editor-in-chief, Dave Marsh explains in the film: “You understand very quickly it’s not all laid back and good vibes and groovy. It’s hard work, it’s discipline, it’s making something out of the ugliest part of the universe.”
This the original team did. Born from head shop money by Barry Kramer (the main man) & Englishman Tony Reay (who gave the magazine it’s name then walked away). CREEM went from flophouse, to weird commune (the plan of Barry & Connie Kramer), to a slick suburban office (frequently visited by many personalities), always maintaining credibility and grime.
The cast of characters in the film are as large as the Stars they wrote about, and unfortunately pass to the other side in the all too familiar way. It’s a documentary that could also be an audio book. The quotes from writer/producer Jaan Uhelszki, alone are enough to donate your cash to: “Beautiful words from 24hrs and codeine.” “Everyone was politically incorrect.”
You learn quickly that these journalists are ingrained in the world they are helping to create and their visions instilled into the lexicon (and a couple of times onto the stage). Famed wordsmith and editor Lester Bangs once exclaimed to the staff: “Let’s be in the culture!”
So yes, watch it. Is there a negative? I wanted more. I wanted to dive even deeper, but with how much fun everyone was having I’m shocked they had as much footage and salvaged pictures as they did! Plus, (as with a great Rock song or concert) always leave the audience wanting more. Fortunately this is what we’ll be getting soon. Chairman JJ Kramer (son of Barry & Connie, and the reason this film exists) is resurrecting CREEM in various forms…you dig?
So, as the days a misty plague filter through spinning time I realize, I could write for days about this film, the magazine, and my favorite music writer Lester Bangs, but I’d rather leave your curiosity foaming. Instead, I request you take a gander or two at the CREEM Documentary. There’s insight into starting something from nothing. It’s about friends and egos clashing and collaborating. It’ll be worth it. Again, Why? Because the milkman is back on your block, and we all know what rises to the top!
You should also find some old copies of CREEM because those explain it all, and as editor Dave Marsh reasons: “There’s some other person that’s going to read it and be freed by it.”You can watch CREEM: America’s Only Rock N’ Roll Magazine here until AUGUST 28th only. Don’t miss it.
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