18 Songs, 1 Hour, 15 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Yes, Steppenwolf had massive songs, a few of which helped truly define a generation (how would middle America have delineated an entire class of bikers had “Born to be Wild” never happened?). Beyond the hits, Steppenwolf’s brand of dirty, organ-soaked blues and dusty, guitar-rattling rock ’n’ roll were unjustly overshadowed by the hits, as were the talents of frontman John Kay. He had the kind of voice that could scare kids; it was big and dark and sometimes sounded full of menace, even in his vulnerable moments (“Tenderness”) or while taking a then-unfashionable stance against drugs (“Snowblind Friend,” “The Pusher”) and the Vietnam War (“Monster”). In other words, Kay could deliver a rock ’n’ roll tune like no other. And you can’t say enough about guitarists Michael Monarch (who was still in high school when the band recorded “Magic Carpet Ride” and “The Pusher”) and Larry Byrom, both of whom balanced wild improvisation with structure and distilled lots of grit and soul. This set handily rounds up the band’s heyday, from 1968 to 1974, ending on their final Top 40 entry: the rocking R&B gem “Straight Shootin’ Woman.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Yes, Steppenwolf had massive songs, a few of which helped truly define a generation (how would middle America have delineated an entire class of bikers had “Born to be Wild” never happened?). Beyond the hits, Steppenwolf’s brand of dirty, organ-soaked blues and dusty, guitar-rattling rock ’n’ roll were unjustly overshadowed by the hits, as were the talents of frontman John Kay. He had the kind of voice that could scare kids; it was big and dark and sometimes sounded full of menace, even in his vulnerable moments (“Tenderness”) or while taking a then-unfashionable stance against drugs (“Snowblind Friend,” “The Pusher”) and the Vietnam War (“Monster”). In other words, Kay could deliver a rock ’n’ roll tune like no other. And you can’t say enough about guitarists Michael Monarch (who was still in high school when the band recorded “Magic Carpet Ride” and “The Pusher”) and Larry Byrom, both of whom balanced wild improvisation with structure and distilled lots of grit and soul. This set handily rounds up the band’s heyday, from 1968 to 1974, ending on their final Top 40 entry: the rocking R&B gem “Straight Shootin’ Woman.”

TITLE TIME
3:30
4:27
3:15
5:42
5:49
3:39
4:04
3:25
2:57
3:54
2:53
4:55
3:00
3:25
4:15
3:18
9:16
18

About Steppenwolf

Led by John Kay (born Joachim Krauledat, April 12, 1944), Steppenwolf's blazing biker anthem "Born to Be Wild" roared out of speakers everywhere in the fiery summer of 1968, John Kay's threatening rasp sounding a mesmerizing call to arms to the counterculture movement rapidly sprouting up nationwide. German immigrant Kay got his professional start in a bluesy Toronto band called Sparrow, recording for Columbia in 1966. After Sparrow disbanded, Kay relocated to the West Coast and formed Steppenwolf, named after the Herman Hesse novel. "Born to Be Wild," their third single on ABC-Dunhill, was immortalized on the soundtrack of Dennis Hopper's underground film classic Easy Rider. The song's reference to "heavy metal thunder" finally gave an assignable name to an emerging genre. Steppenwolf's second monster hit that year, the psychedelic "Magic Carpet Ride," and the follow-ups "Rock Me," "Move Over," and "Hey Lawdy Mama" further established the band's credibility on the hard rock circuit. By the early '70s, Steppenwolf ran out of steam and disbanded. Kay continued to record solo, as other members put together ersatz versions of the band for touring purposes. During the mid-'80s Kay re-formed his own version of Steppenwolf, grinding out his hits (and some new songs) at oldies shows. Nevertheless, they'll be remembered for generations to come for creating one of the ultimate gas'n'go rock anthems of all time. ~ Bill Dahl & Cub Koda

  • ORIGIN
    Los Angeles, CA
  • GENRE
    Rock
  • FORMED
    1967

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