The excellent reviews so far missed only one other redeeming part of the CD –its cover. When I bought the record album around 1970 my youngest daughter Ann said she still remembers “the scary cover.” The record also had something the CD doesn’t have —a cover photo of the Steppenwolf band celebrating someone’s birthday in a burned-out house. How’s that! The music ranges from great to filler, but I agree with others that it improves over time. Like Jupiter Child —lots of power and energy and some super drumming by the late Jerry Edmonton. And of course “Rock Me” which always gets me dancing. Buy this CD and work your way toward a complete collection of music by this super band —Steppenwolf. This band got many of us through the 1960s and early 70s. Rock on! Earl Finkler
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Of course you can never call this their best album, for it’s placed between ‘Steppenwolf The Second’ and ‘Monster’. But in my opinion, it is the middle one of their three greatest outings, and it also shows this by blending the early, light mood and born-to-be-wild-rock with ‘Monster’s more somber, dark spirit, which would dominate the next recording completely. This way, it possesses some of the lightness, that ‘Monster’ arguably needed, while appearing as more serious & more mature than their first two albums. Then why don’t I say it’s better than them… well, because I just love psychedelia, and then, how should I criticize ‘Magic Carpet Ride’?
‘Don’t Cry’ is quite simply THE BEST STEPPENWOLF SONG NEVER TO BE A SINGLE – or at least a hit, I mean, I don’t think it was a single anyway… but it certainly wasn’t a hit, though I think it’s even better than ‘Rock Me’, though that one deserved its Top Ten placing.
‘Chicken Wolf’ and ‘Lovely Meter’ are standard, above-the-rest-of-the-pack Steppenwolf songs, but the band really approaches the heights of their opening track with ‘Round And Down’, which could be said to be their second greatest not-single, though this time, I’m not so sure…
‘It’s Never Too Late’ is a wonderful anthem. At first it seems a bit bombastic, but hear it a couple of times, and you’ll also start loving it.
‘Sleeping Dreaming’ is funny, and as chaotic as the stranger outings of Jefferson Airplane (like ‘A Small Package Of Value Will Come To You, Shortly’) and The Beatles (‘Dig It’)! A kind of “song”, that only could have been made in the 60’s…
‘Jupiter Child’, the next highlight, is a great rock song with a powerful riff, while ‘She’ll Be Better’ and ‘Cat Killer’ arguably beats it. Then ‘Rock Me’ arrives, their third greatest hit, and, though many other songs surpasses it, still a marvellous gem of rock’n'roll. Even if it’s an attempt to capture the spirit of ‘Born To Be Wild’ once again, then at least it’s a great attempt!!!
‘God Fearing Man’ is a more serious creation, but one which completely dwarfs the otherwise finely crafted ‘Mango Juice’. ‘Happy Birthday’ closes the album with a mystic & brilliant invocation, childhood, the unknown, simply magic, perhaps the only track on this record to rival the splendour of ‘Don’t Cry’, but doing it with completely other means than those that Steppenwolf have become known for!
Those of us who had a copy of “Steppenwolf: 16 Greatest Hits” in high school (and who didn’t?) will be familiar with the stand-out tracks on “At Your Birthday Party”: “Rock Me” and “It’s Never Too Late”. However, the real highlights on this album are the unexpected diamonds in the rough that showcase Steppenwolf’s suprisingly diverse pallette. One track, “Cat Killer,” is a short, adrenaline-laced boogie-woogie piano workout; and another, “Mango Juice,” is a spacey, mellow jam that makes one think that John Kay might have been listening to a lot of Pink Floyd at the time of this recording. The album concludes with a simple-yet-beautiful tune entitled “Happy Birthday”. While some may regard these tracks as filler, I regard them as the “diamonds in the rough” that give the album its spark. The rest is fairly standard stuff that does not necessarily display much creativity on the band’s part–but if you’re in the mood for some straight-forward rock, then tracks like “Don’t Cry” and “Jupiter’s Child” will probably do just fine.
It’s good. In ‘76 when I was at Cornell, we were doing a deal and I put this record (which was old then) on to help test the stuff. Everyone asked, “What is this GREAT album?”. We had a GREAT time, in the spirit of 1969 to boot.
So, if you want to get wasted a la 1969, try it with this album. You won’t regret it. It invokes the feeling.
Favorite cuts: Don’t Cry, It’s Never Too Late; Rock Me; Happy Birthday. Kay’s voice is at its prime.
There are some controversial messages here that have been overlooked and over-shadowed throughout time by all the other over marketed and exploited recording artists of the late 60’s and early 70’s, while Steppenwolf remains more musically relative with emphasis on moody textures, dynamic modern day grit rock and lyrically more on the mark than a great deal of their counterparts. It’s Never Too Late is an anthem and a serious message for the breakdown and alienation between kids and parents to this day. This really is a multi faceted effort, steering away from the blues rock that links the first 2 albums underlining their roots. The rebellious rock is still adrift in Jupiter Child, radio air play syndrome in Rock Me, (I can picture Pearl Jam conceiving Don’t Cry) Mango Juice is world music in sedated acid jazz and there is also a hint of rag time jazz in Cat Killer and wit in God Fearing Man and Chicken Wolf. For a true reflection on John Kay’s soul check out the lyrics of Renegade from Steppenwolf 7 which is a self portrait of his child hood when he was carried away from enemy lines during the bombing of Germany during WWII wrapped up in his mothers arms. The Ostrich from their debut album is his epic, picking the bones of the “SYSTEM” that we still adhere to today, not to mention Monster whose lyrics politically reign supreme and true!!! Enjoy this while it continues to be pressed on plastic, for very few modern day bands are blessed with this vision or scope. Don’t hold your breath on any Hall Of Fame induction either (Rush will probably have a better chance) for if Pink Floyd or Black Sabbath are left out cold, the Wolf will not play either.