Almost Infamous – Robert Matheu and the Big Book of Creem, Part I.

Matheu snaps Hynde through the mirror, darkly.

Robert Matheu is pretty excited about his book release, CREEM: America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine. In fact it’s all he can talk, or e-mail, about. It isn’t a session with one of the hundreds of musicians he’s photographed before. No, this time it’s all about the book he just finished with a little help from some of his old, and new, friends.

Starting out like many of his Creem compatriots, an impressionable young music enthusiast from Michigan, Matheu instead used photos for words, providing the visuals for many an infamous caption. While Creem was known for using many photographers, it was he who remained most affixed to the magazine, later being a guiding force in the 1980s after his move to the West coast. Leafing through back pages (often literally), it can be great fun to try to spot all the photos. This game will be slightly easier with the book.

AR: What was your first introduction to Creem?

RM: In my early teens, growing up on the West side of Detroit – and that was actually the hard part when I was writing the outro to the book – remembering the bookstore at the corner of my street. Thankfully, my brother didn’t do as many drugs as I did over the years and he actually remembered. I didn’t really start reading it until ’71. I had a lot of friends, older friends, but I think of our lot, I was the first to discover Creem. They sold it at the corner store on my street and at that time had an adult section. It was displayed right on the rack next to Al Goldstein’s legendary Screw Magazine because the name had the weird spelling with the double e; it was kind of misconstrued as being some sort of soft core porn magazine.

Richard Siegel, who is what I refer to as on of the founding fathers, actually used that to their advantage in the early days because from what I understand of all the stories I heard from Rick and Charlie Auringer, they pretty much when they got the paper done, when it was still the double-fold newspaper, everyone had had their duties – almost like a paper route – taking it around to different stores that they actually went to.

Creem was like the only one that appealed to our sensibilities because even though Rolling Stone was around it was very much, you know, they wrote about the Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead, which wasn’t necessarily the stuff we were seeing in Detroit. It was much more originally a local magazine. I think that’s what Tony Reay meant, when we first hooked up and started talking about the website, he said that was his original vision; we were supposed to be about the local scene. It was such a beautiful time and Detroit was such a different city, but it was like CKLW being what it was and WKNR, it was all about Motown, which is why I could never relate to Rolling Stone.

Continue reading “Almost Infamous – Robert Matheu and the Big Book of Creem, Part I.”

EXTRA: Music Criticism Thriving!

Lately, it seems that many of the pieces that get linked to around here are about how dismal are the prospects of music criticism. The equation regarding criticism that is more than “consumer advocacy” seems to be: readers don’t want to read it, publishers don’t want to publish it, writers thus slouch in their duties to provide it. But are there counter-examples to this mentality … Continue reading EXTRA: Music Criticism Thriving!

Death Becomes Us?

Clouds and Clocks, the brainchild of Italian correspondent Beppe Colli (and a great site for interviews with well known experimental artists as well as with various music critics) , recently celebrated its fifth year of existence with some interesting thoughts on the health of music criticism, etc. The comment that most caught my eye, of course, was this one: “To repeat: preconditions don’t look too … Continue reading Death Becomes Us?

Bomp! Saving The World One Record At A Time…

Mark Boudreau in the Rock and Roll Report reviews a brand new Bomp! anthology: “I can distinctly trace my introduction to rock and roll like it was yesterday. From my first pre-pubescent exposure to a live Beach Boys record in Grade 5 followed quickly thereafter by the hard rock blast of Cold Gin by KISS, what has stuck with me almost as much as the … Continue reading Bomp! Saving The World One Record At A Time…

Beyond and Back: The Punk Turns 30 Exhibit

Although the verdict is still out as to whether 2007 was a complete bust, a bright spot was veteran punk rock photojournalist Theresa Kereakes’ celebrating three decades of punk rock’s uppers and downers with her moving art show, Punk Turns 30. Working the West coast circuit since she was a teen, and later going bicoastal, she amassed a cache of visually explosive iconography, including signature … Continue reading Beyond and Back: The Punk Turns 30 Exhibit