Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf

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by Steppenwolf
     
 

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"Born to be Wild," the anthemic single that leapt off this album in the summer of '68 (heavy-metal thunder, indeed), is one of the most overexposed songs in rock history, famous as much for its inclusion on the soundtrack of the hippie epic "Easy Rider" as for its inclusion on the soundtrack to that film's parodic Yuppie twin "Lost in America." So you may have to take

Overview

"Born to be Wild," the anthemic single that leapt off this album in the summer of '68 (heavy-metal thunder, indeed), is one of the most overexposed songs in rock history, famous as much for its inclusion on the soundtrack of the hippie epic "Easy Rider" as for its inclusion on the soundtrack to that film's parodic Yuppie twin "Lost in America." So you may have to take it on faith that both single and album were among the year's biggest breaths of fresh air. The first roots-rock, neo-classic signs -- before Dylan's NASHVILLE SKYLINE or the Beatles' WHITE ALBUM -- that psychedelia might be choking on its own whimsy and pretension, STEPPENWOLF proved that three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust verities might be the way to go instead. A first-rate blues band gone Hollywood hard rock, Steppenwolf (fronted by perpetually sunglassed singer-guitarist John Kay) were capable of revving up Chuck Berry to alarming speeds, delivering convincing Muddy Waters covers, and writing concise dollops of what we would now call power pop -- which is in fact the mix you find on this still highly exciting debut album. Ignore those who claim these guys invented the phrase "heavy-metal thunder," however -- as usual, William S. Burroughs did it first. -- Steve Simels

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Bruce Eder
Steppenwolf entered the studio for their recording debut with a lot of confidence -- based on a heavy rehearsal schedule before they ever got signed -- and it shows on this album, a surprisingly strong debut album from a tight hard rock outfit who was obviously searching for a hook to hang their sound on. The playing is about as loud and powerful as anything being put out by a major record label in 1968, though John Kay's songwriting needed some development before their in-house repertory would catch up with their sound and musicianship. On this album, the best material came from outside the ranks of the active bandmembers: "Born to Be Wild" by ex-member Mars Bonfire, which became not only a chart-topping high-energy anthem for the counterculture (a status solidified by its use in Dennis Hopper's movie Easy Rider the following year), but coined the phrase heavy metal, thus giving a genre-specific name to the brand of music that the band played (and which was already manifesting itself in the work of bands like Vanilla Fudge and the just-emerging Led Zeppelin); the Don Covay soul cover "Sookie, Sookie," which, as a single by the new group, actually got played on some soul stations until they found out that Steppenwolf was white; two superb homages to Chess Records, in the guise of "Berry Rides Again," written (though "adapted" might be a better word) by Kay based on the work of Chuck Berry, and the Willie Dixon cover "Hoochie Coochie Man"; and Hoyt Axton's "The Pusher," an anti-drug song turned into a pounding six-minute tour de force by the band. The rest, apart from the surprisingly lyrical rock ballad "A Girl I Knew," is by-the-numbers hard rock that lacked much except a framework for their playing; only "The Ostrich" ever comes fully to life among the other originals, but the songs would catch up with the musicianship the next time out.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/25/1990
Label:
Mca
UPC:
0076731102023
catalogNumber:
31020
Rank:
12304

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Steppenwolf 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago