Category: Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf – At Your Birthday Party

ARTIST: Steppenwolf  220px-SteppenwolfAtYourBirthdayParty

TITLE: At Your Birthday Party



SINGLES: Rock Me (#10), It’s Never Too Late (#51)


LINEUP: John Kay, Michael Monarch, Goldy McJohn, Nick St. Nicholas, Jerry Edmonton

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The gas had run out of the Steppenwolf engine at this time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Rock Me”, an all-time classic, was released on the Candy soundtrack, and became a big hit with a great B-side in “Jupiter’s Child”. But when it came time to create a new album, John Kay was almost tapped out of tunes. Kay only wrote or co-wrote two other tracks (which are the best of the rest) and the others came from producer Gabriel Mekler and other band members.

Kay didn’t even sing on some of the tracks. Bassist Nick St. Nicholas and guitarist Michael Monarch had their turns at the mic, and, well, Kay was much missed. There were a couple of throw away short trackss, a country spoof, a couple of horrible ballads, and basic tomfoolery in the studio.

The band regrouped a bit the next year, with a great single and a good protest record, but this killed the momentum of the band for the most part. It was half-crap and the fans knew it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Monarch left the band a few months after this came out.


GRADE C-: Had “Rock Me” and “Jupiter’s Child” not been here, it definitely would have been a “D”…

Steppenwolf – Steppenwolf the Second

ARTIST: Steppenwolf                        220px-SteppenwolfTheSecond

TITLE: The Second



SINGLES: Magic Carpet Ride (#3)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Radio stayed away from the rest, and still does.

LINEUP: John Kay, Michael Monarch, Goldie McJohn, Rushton Moreve, Jerry Edmonton.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Steppenwolf’s second (hence the title) is lighter at times, more psychedelic, more political, and more of a hodge-podge (and strained through a Leslie, as it were).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Magic Carpet Ride” was a monster hit, of that there is no question, and is one of the best hard psychedelic songs from the era. And at first listen, this record seems like it will be a worthy successor to their first album.

Yet upon more listens, it seems weaker and more unfocused.

The band does try to mix up their sound, getting quieter at times and diminishing the hard sound of the first album. But many of those quieter songs don’t really stand up to scrutiny, with only “28” really being outstanding, while “Tighten Up Your Wig” sounds nice but is a blatant rip of “Messin’ with the Kid”.

The sides end with lengthy tracks. “Don’t Step on the Grass, Sam” is a ham-fisted pro-pot song, while the end of Side Two is a long suite with five tracks that range from hard rockin’ to scarily political. There’s some duds in there which dilute the quality of the suite.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Jerry Edmonton sings two tracks, the openers to each side.


 GRADE B: There’s enough good stuff in here to have it over a greatest hits album, but it’s not as good as I thought it was when I was young.

Steppenwolf – Steppenwolf

ARTIST: Steppenwolf SteppenwolfAlbum
TITLE: Steppenwolf
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.


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.