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  • It is difficult some thirty years later to explain to younger listeners just how well this album articulated the sense of desperation and rage at the social system so prevalent among the sixties generation. Steppenwolf lead singer John Kay managed to provocatively employ the “Monster” analogy to perfection in explaining the terrifying existential dilemma the sixties generation found itself in, trapped by the injustice and stupidity of the military draft on one side, and the unknowing, uncaring, and patently dysfunctional material machinations of mainstream American culture on the other. All that said, this particular worldview informs one of the most outrageously brilliant song cycles in modern rock. Monster is a work of musical genius by John Kay, and is an under appreciated masterwork in that sense. The singularity of the lyrics, arrangements, and musicianship of this smash best-selling album is apparent from the opening bars of the trilogy of Monster/Suicide/America. It is highly political, but at the same time really rocks. By the way, although the lyrics may seem a bit stylized and anachronistic now, any one who lived through those years recognizes the predominating perceptions behind it, as well as the conviction many of us had regarding the patent evil that surrounded us. Moreover, the indictment of materialism and its woes is strangely still quite accurate and relevant, a cautionary tale one can easily apply to the problems still confronting America, a country that often seems for sale to the highest bidder. That itself is amazing, given all the changes that have occurred. But for simply stunning rock music, it is hard to beat songs like “Draft Resister” (my personal favorite), “Move Over”, and the Monster trilogy. Sit back, turn up the volume, and trip back with Steppenwolf to that super-charged political environment of the late sixties, and take your mind for a ride. Enjoy!

    Posted on February 13, 2010