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  • Although the quality of Steppenwolf’s output is a bit uneven, the group created a monster (yuk, yuk) in 1969. If we wanted to take a look at just one rock masterpiece, the title cut would surely make a deeply rewarding study. On many levels, it qualifies as one of the greatest rock tunes ever written. I’m not mincing words when I say that this song, after 33 years, can still put a lump in my throat. I’m not going to feed you any lines about this being a typical antiestablishment hippy tune from the 60s. No, this song is far deeper than that! The title cut is as glaringly apropos today as it was in 1969 – probably even more so. The music admirably supports the lyrics. The song builds tremendous tension and momentum so that when the first “America, where are you now…” chorus hits, it’s…well, breathtaking! Folks, this song qualifies as one of the greats of all time – not a dated artifact, but a timeless classic. The album continues with two more great songs (yes, they too make statements).This band could lay down a groove like no other. Part of it was the drummer, part of it was everyone else interacting both with and around the drummer. They’re smooth and sophisticated, sensual and alluring. The guitar work is ever so tasteful, often far more so than that of “name” players.”Move Over,” like the title piece, was a hit in ‘69 and I’m perplexed that this powerful gem is largely forgotten today. You never hear it on radio anymore, but that doesn’t surprise me: they’re too busy playing the same song over and over again. Anyway, “Move Over” doesn’t merely knock my socks off, it trounces me! For nearly three minutes, the song maintains the most throbbing, ecstatic energy you’re likely to hear – an electrified frenzy of an astonishing nature. This tune is so stimulating it’s dangerous. (And with today’s preoccupation with being overly safe, I might suggest wearing a helmet.) This album includes one instrumental. I’m often impatient with instrumentals, especially those that offer little in the way of impressive improvisation – which is most often the case in the world of rock. But this is a pleasant ditty that doesn’t overstay its welcome. A piano line rocks back and forth whilst a bluesy guitar croons about. It’s fine within the context of the album. (Actually, we need this break after the orgasmic “Move Over.”) “From Here To There Eventually” is another thought-provoking masterpiece – much overlooked. It’s about how many folks feel, still today, about the need for spirituality while being repulsed by church hypocrisy. I love this song. And it’s got one of those signature Steppenwolf “spaced-out” grooves toward the end. A fantastic finish to a fantastic record.Despite a very strong first album, I always thought – and still do – that this is their best work. All the great things that made this band unmistakable are here in abundance. Still today, it is pure ecstasy from start to finish. A powerful album, the impact of which never seems to wear off.

    Posted on February 12, 2010