Steppenwolf – Steppenwolf

ARTIST: Steppenwolf SteppenwolfAlbum
TITLE: Steppenwolf
YEAR RELEASED: 1968
CHART ACTION: #6 US, #59 UK
SINGLES: A Girl I Knew, Born to Be Wild (#2 US, #30 UK), The Pusher, Sookie Sookie
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That’s it for anything on the radio
LINEUP: John Kay, Rushton Moreve, Michael Monarch, Goldy McJohn, Jerry Edmonton
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Sparrows change their name after a couple of personnel tweaks, get a contract, record the battle cry of bikers and outlaws everywhere. The album is surprisingly deep and not stooped.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A classic guitar riff, an organ played through a Leslie cabinet, and lyrics loved by outlaws everywhere – that’s “Born to Be Wild”. Yet, a deeper listen into this debut album finds a band rooted in soul, early rock and the blues, as well as some thoughtful, slower tempo political ruminations. (Not dirges by any means but not fast…)

The secret weapon here was Moreve’s bass guitar, which is melodic but yet anchors the songs down. McJohn’s keyboards definitely add color as well as set the mood for some of the deeper, darker songs. Kay may not be the best blues singer in the world, but he knows how to use his voice to rock. Songs like “Everybody’s Next One”, “Desperation” and “The Ostrich” show the band are more than just a party-type band that people assume them to be.

Some say this is the dawn of heavy metal – not really. This was definitely heavy psychedelic rock, sure, and a stepping stone towards that genre, but not true metal. It’s a great album for what it is, and it does indeed get your motor running.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original album was released in a silver reflective color, and it was FAR OUT, let me tell you.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: A couple of tracks stretch them out of their comfort zone (they’re rooted in the blues but shouldn’t do straight blues) but overall this is top notch psychedelic rock.

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