Herman Hesse - KICKIN' ASS!!!
*special introductory paragraph!
*Early Steppenwolf
*The Second
*At Your Birthday Party
*For Ladies Only
*Slow Flux
*Hour Of The Wolf
*Rock & Roll Rebels
*Rise & Shine

Steppenwolf formed in Canada, moved to San Francisco, and began their recording career with a couple of fantastic albums full of raw, melodic material like the legendary classics "Born To Be Wild" and "Magic Carpet Ride."

Unfortunately, things don't always work out over the long-term.

Early Steppenwolf - ABC Dunhill 1969
Rating = 5

This is actually Sparrow, a pre-Steppenwolf band featuring singer John Kay, keyboardist Goldy McJohn, drummer Jerry Edmonton, bassist Nick St. Nicholas and guitarist Dennis "Mars Bonfire" Edmonton. After Steppenwolf hit it large with three albums and a couple of hit singles, the greedy record company businessmen in their three-piece suits twirling their fancy little watches on a chain and peering through their monocles at the hundred dollar bills they were using to light their fancy cigars decided to FUCK the American public IN THE ASS OF LIFE by putting this old tape out with the name 'Steppenwolf' on it. Some of you might say, "Well Mark, by that point Steppenwolf was 4/5ths identical to Sparrow anyway, and the sole ex-member was still contributing material, including their biggest hit 'Born To Be Wild'." And perhaps you would be right. In fact, chances are good that you are exactly right. At the same time,

I'm sick of writing reviews 7 days a week. I just don't have it in me to write a decent, well-written musiqual critike every single day of my life. Let me rush through this one so I can go listen to another Steppenwolf album and continue this madness - this insane, endless, pointless vicious circle of destruction in which I've imprisoned my writing glands.

Fantastic recording, especially considering how old the tapes are. All the instruments are loud and boastful, and the performances are quite strong. The band was essentially a straight-up blues-rock band at this point though, covering John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf and Trad. Arr. with 12-bar gusto. Only two original compositions are performed, and although both were later re-recorded for Steppenwolf studio albums ("Power Play" for Monster and "Tighten Up Your Wig" for The Second), neither hint that John Kay had any musical ideas outside of his direct electric blues and soul influences. But they were WRONG! Or however you would phrase that.

It's honestly a solid, tough and enjoyable set of great electric r'n'b, blues, gospel and soul, highlighted by Mars Bonfire's buzzing, cheap-amp distorted pluckity guitar tone and John Kay's already gruff-as-rocks biker's voice. And if the band had continued performing in the same electric blues-rock vein during the second half of this particular live set, it would probably be a 7-worthy album. Unfortunately, side two is "The Pusher."

Like many of you, I enjoy the pisslights out of Hoyt Axton's "The Pusher" as performed by Steppenwolf on their self-titled debut LP. In that context, it's a tight, dark, snakelike, evil-toned country-blues admonition against the goddamned pusherman. In THIS context (the 'Sparrow' context), it's 17 minutes of talentless avant-garde improv shit noise garbage, squeaky amp feedback, drumfuckery, self-indulgent 'Eastern-tinged' guitar noodling and siren noises followed by a version of "The Pusher" in which only the organ plays the chord changes, the guitarist clearly too busy sliding his finger up and down the neck going 'dehhhhhhp! doooooop dee!' over and over. Thanks for nothing, Dennis "Mars Bonfire" Edmonton! Hey, you know what? Why don't you go grab a candy bar and lighter, and make a "Mars Bonfire"? HA HA HA HAHAHA!!!! HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHHA!!!! HA HA HHA HAHAH!!!!

Oh, he's Canadian? Shit, that changes everything. Canada's Mars Bar is completely different from ours here in the United States of Owning The World. For example, if you check the list of ingredients on a Canadian Mars Bar, you'll see that it's comprised of Sugar, Corn Syrup. Milk Ingredients: Hydrogenated Soybean & Palm Oil, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass. Modified Milk Ingredients: Malted milk Powder, Malted Barley Wheat Flour, Sodium Bicarbonate. Cocoa, Soy Lechithin, Salt, Dried Egg-White, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, and Artifical Flavour. Compare that with an American (and therefore correct) Mars Bar: Milk Chocolate, (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Lactose, Skim Milk, Milkfat, Soy Lechithin, Artificial Flavor), Almonds, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Skim Milk, Less than 2% - Butter, Milkfat, Lactose, Salt, Egg-Whites, Soy Protein, Artifical Flavor.

When you get right down to it, a Canadian Mars Bar is actually more like a Milky Way than a Mars Bar as we know it down here in the First World. So what would be the point of setting one of THOSE pieces of shit on fire? Goddammit. Goddamn Canada for everything they've done wrong to us. Remember the Civil War? That was Canada. And what about 9/11? That was a bunch of Canadians crashing planes into buildings because of "Allah Great Beer We Just Drank, Hoser," if you read the whole transcript.

Don't get me wrong - Canada's a fine young country with many intriguing ideas (free healthcare, saying "aboot"). But it's a little scary knowing that Burton Cummings lives right next door, if you know what I'm saying.

(hint: gigantic animated testicles that eat people)

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* Steppenwolf - ABC Dunhill 1968 *
Rating = 10

Steppenwolf has gone down in History as a 'motorcycle rock' band for three key reasons: (a) they're a bunch of smelly long-hairs, (b) I thought of this one in the shower but now I can't remember it, and (c) they recorded the song "Born To Be Wild." This crunchy, brooding hit has over the years become so synonymous with "big Hell's Angel guy riding a gigantic noisy chopper" that I literally cannot hear the sound of a motorcycle engine without getting its opening guitar riff stuck in my head: it's a perfect fit! However, the truth is that most Steppenwolf songs don't sound like "Born To Be Wild." In fact, that song wasn't even written by a member of the band.

It's really annoying me that I can't remember what reason (b) was. It wasn't that they had two songs in Easy R I REMEMBER!!!! I REMEMBER!!!! Reason (b) is because John Kay's voice sounds like he's been pouring himself bowls of rival bikers' teeth topped with highway tar every morning since he escaped over the Berlin Wall.

And that's just one of the many interesting things that you can learn about John Kay, lead singer of Steppenwolf. He did in fact, as a child, escape with his family over (or through?) the Berlin Wall. Another intriguing truthhood is that he is apparently legally blind, like Reese Witherspoon in that movie. A third exciting piece of information is that his real last name isn't "Kay" at all, but "Kockadoodle-doo!"

When John K. entered The American Recording Studio with fellow band members Goldy McJohn, Jerry Edmonton, bassist Rushton Moreve and guitarist Michael Monarch in 1968, they had no way of knowing that the end result would just 38 years later earn a coveted '10 out of 10' on the uninnovative rating scale of an amateur Internet record reviewer nobody's ever heard of. But sometimes dreams come true even when they're not actually dreams, or even things you slightly give a shit about. So congratulations, John Goldy Jerryrushtonmike! Your name is my name too!

Steppenwolf was never really a 'motorcycle rock' band, nor even predominantly a 'hard rock' band. Regardless of Kay's gruff voice and Monarch's scraggly distorted guitar tone, their songs were mostly poppy, upbeat and melodic, not dark or morbid. A more accurate comparison might be drawn to the better garage bands of the mid-60s -- just with a scragglier vocalist and stronger, louder production capabilities.

One thing they were on these early records was Diverse As A Variety. If you listen with your ears and not your heart (which lacks the anatomical components necessary for decoding the information carried through sound waves), you may notice that every single track on this debut LP represents an entirely different subgenre than those which came before it. Starting with "Sookie Sookie (Sookie Sookie Sookie Sookie Soo!)," we encounter (a) funky soul music, (b) pop-rock, (c) early rock and roll, (d) electric blues, (e) motorcycle rock, (f) a 'vamp'/modal jam, (g) lovely soul balladry, (h) dark country-blues, (i) baroque mid-60s garage rock, (j) bubblegum pop, and (k) experimental psych-rock. Does this sound like some dumb post-Troggs idiot loud band to you? They totally sprinkle some fuckin' fairy dust on it, even while shitting the drummer.

The guitar tone, generally relegated to the right speaker of your stereo unit, is loud, raw and noisy - but NOT heavy. The keyboardwork, enjoying the freedom of the left (or 'liberal') speaker, generally varies between piano and Hammond organ. At no point during the proceedings do you get the idea that any of them are above average instrumentalists. However, the songs are fun, catchy, exuberant, diverse, fuzzed-out and joyously rockin'soulin'poppin'bluesin'! Furthermore, Steppenwolf features the first of many excellent Steppenwolf album covers - a metallic silvery band photo that will pSyChEdElIcIzE yOuR mIIIIIIInd.

The hilarious thing though is that John Kay wrote 7 of the 11 songs, yet the LP's two bonafide classics were written by non-band members - Dennis "Mars Bonfire" Edmonton's "Born To Be Wild" and Hoyt "Careful With That" Ax"Eugene"ton's "The Pusher." (note: if your religion forbids the singing of "GODDAMN The Pusher," an acceptable substitute is "G__D___ The Push-re."). But Kay's songs are just as great, so don't get all make-fun-ofy. He even addresses important social issues in his catchy tunes, such as:

"Everybody's Next One" (the damage inflicted on young women in the name of 'the sexual revolution'): "She doesn't know why she's everybody's next one/'Cause she's afraid that the truth is gonna hurt some/All the pity in the world ain't gonna help none/She has to realize that to keep one, her ways have to change some." Also that kicks ass how he rhymed 'some' with 'some'

"Your Wall's Too High" (the loneliness endemic to the practice of sheltering yourself from the world): "Back home again the day is gone/You're safe and sound but still alone/And when the night falls around your walls/Ah, tell me don't you ever wish to go outside/Follow the lights and go outside/You'll be alright, just go outside"

"Desperation" (the importance of perseverance against the odds): "So don't stop tryin' when you stumble/Don't give up should you fall/Keep on searchin' for the passway/That will lead you through the wall/Don't look back or you'll be left behind/Don't look back or you will never find peace of mind"

"Take What You Need" (the state of the world): "Took a look in the paper/While tryin' to eat a bite/You know I read the evenin' news/And lost my appetite/Some have the nerve to ask/For more respect from you and me"

"The Ostrich" (enforced conformity): "You're free to speak your mind my friend/As long as you agree with me/Don't criticize the father land/Or those who shape your destiny/'Cause if you do /You'll lose your job your mind and all the friends you knew/We'll send out all our boys in blue/They'll find a way to silence you"

Look, I never said the guy was an Pulitzer-winning poet; I said he wrote about social issues. So stop being an a-hole, if that's what you're doing out there. Me, I'm in here singing all these catchy songs to myself and, in the words of Loverboy, "Lovin' Every Minute Of It"! Especially the chorus to "Everybody's Next One," which is so dogmanned catchy it'd might as well be a Monkees song.

Perhaps it's not a perfect 10, (5 1/2 minutes of "Hoochie Coochie Man"?) but it's as close to one as Steppenwolf would ever come, and I'm proud to boost its well-deserved 8.6 to a starry-eyed 10. Buy it, porkers!

Oh hell, did I say 'porkers'? I meant 'baldies.'

Reader Comments
Have you ever seen that Comcast commercial where the guy's in the shower singing "Born to Be Wild" as "Get your motor runnin', sweatin' on the highway! Lookin' for a monkey, lookin' on the highway"? It's pretty great. I mean, I laughed.
"Steppenwolf has gone down in History as a 'motorcycle rock' band for three key reasons: (a) they're a bunch of smelly long-hairs, (b) I thought of this one in the shower but now I can't remember it"

The leather jacket with their name spelled out in metal studs (the one on the cover of their live album)?

That's pretty darned biker.

"Everybody's Next One" is the flip side of the only Steppenwolf single (I bought albums ... and the 8-tracks!) I have, "Born 2 B Wild," and I could never understand how a song this insanely catchy wound up as a B side?! Should've been the A side of a single. There has to be a good story of how they came to cover "Sookie Sookie" and I'd love to know it. Sure not an obvious cover choice, but a great one.

It was just amazing that AM Top 40 radio *played it* because it sure sounded dirty. And is, isn't it?

These guys didn't have as heavy a sound as, say, Blue Cheer, but they sounded like they could kick Iron Butterfly's ass. There weren't any better-sounding keys on any rock n' roll records at the time.

And they didn't have to be heavy. They had a distinctive singer, riff-o-matic guitars, and that massive Hammond sound going for them. Great sound, great material (except, as you note, for the blues cover), great record.

You have to figure Blue Oyster Cult went through a few copies of this album when they were forging their own sound.

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The Second - ABC Dunhill 1968
Rating = 8

Have I already mentioned how totally awesome it would be to buy (or rent) a dog and name it "Ronnie James D.O.G."? It'd have to be a tiny, arrogant dog, but it would be worth it just to let the world know what a gigantic redneck you are.

On the topic of Stepperwolb's The Fecund, what a great album. You know? I mean, what a GREAT album. Starts off with Dennis "Mars Bonfire" Edmonton's awesome driving hard rocker "Faster Than The Speed Of Life," continues with Sparrow's old James Browny shuffle-blooze-standard "Tighten Up Your Wig," gives you a little sensitive whirligig with JK's church organ/pop rocker "None Of Your Doing" and baroque string ballad "Spiritual Fantasy," then envelopes your mindscape in the sleazy playful blues-rock groove of "Don't Step On The Grass, Sam," before turning the record over and rollicking your piano backbone with the sexist producer's sexist "28" and putting a psychedelic psmile on your face with the monster melodic classic "Magic Carpet Ride." GREAT ALBUM! Seven great songs, ONE GREAT ALBUM! Thanks - I'll see you tomorrow, with the nudity!

Producer Guy: "Hay Stepperwolb. Your new album is only 26 minutes long. C'moon, you need to do more songs."

John Kay: "Hay members of my band, the same line-up that appeared on the first album, I've got a real gasser of an idea. No, hear me out. I'm serious. What do you think?"

Goldie McJohn: "Hey man, I'm hep. I can dig your groovy bag."

John Kay: "Yeah, and then we'll record a generic Delta blues song that leads into a long soul/r'n'b medley that isn't the slightest bit creative but will take up like 15 minutes of the album."

Goldie McJohn: "Peace, my brother. Tricky Dicky stop the war."

And so it was that our beloved corporate Gods claimed to have created the second Steppenwolf album. Allowing it to sink as low in one year as commercial albums have in 25. Forget honesty, forget creativity; the dumbest buy the mostest - that's the name of the game. But sales have

And so it was that the second Steppenwolf album suddenly took a 180-degree turn from 'fucking AWESOME SONGS!!!!!' to 'say, you guys are just making up this shit as you go, aren't you?' But it was the only solution they could think of -- they owed the record company two albums a year, and they hadn't had time to come up with a full second album's worth of decent material! Plus, to be absolutely fair, not a single one of these quickly thrown-together songs -- "Disappointment Number," "Lost And Found By Trial And Error," "Hodge, Podge, Strained Through A Leslie" (Speaker - get it?), and "Resurrection" -- is bad in the way that so many of their later songs would be (more on that later). It's just that, rather than unique Steppenwolf compositions, they're merely slight variations on well-worn musical conceits. Certainly they're played with good energy and determination though. Hey, I ain't knockin' 'em! I'm just sayin' they suck!

Kidding. They don't suck. But man, what a letdown after the first seven tracks. Let's get back to talking about those some more!

Mars Bonfire's "Faster Than The Speed Of Life," sung by his smooth-voiced drummer brother, is possibly my favorite song on the album. Catchy, tough, rockin' -- it's like catching a tough rock in your ear!


Some funny lyrics too. Check out the final verse of "Tighten Up Your Wig," which follows a few verses about how you gots to OPEN YOUR EYES to see what's really going on around you: "Just before we go, I'd like to mention Junior Wells/We stole his thing from him, and he from someone else/Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, he plays the blues like few before/May he play forevermore."

And did you know that beloved smash single "Magic Carpet Ride" has a funny second verse? Read it and see! "Last night I held Aladdin's lamp/And so I wished that I could stay/Before the thing could answer me/Well, someone came and took the lamp away/I looked around/a lousy candle's all I found." Who knew!? Steve? Did Steve know?

And don't even get me STARTED on "Don't Step On The Grass, Sam," which takes the first four notes of Cream's "Politician" and takes them somewhere smiley-profiley instead of lopey-dopey. This track chronicles John Kay's emotions upon viewing a televised marijuana debate between two nay-sayers and a longhair -- and ends with a police bust!

Quite a nice police bust too - the sculptor did a fantastic job on the mustache. SH-BING!

Also, the cover is shiny and purple. And if you throw it in the air, it flies! So get your ass off and buy this Shiny Flying Purple (Steppen)Wolf Album today!

There, now that all the "I want a short review" pricks are out of the room, let's discuss the inclusion of producer Gabriel Mekler's "28" on this album. I wonder if it's telling that the drummer sang this one too. Is it possible that John Kay refused to take part in its sexist reversal of the previous LP's "Everybody's Next One"? After all, what kind of asshole would WANT to sing lyrics like "They're talking, talking about Molly/She's crying - isn't it funny?/I turned her without any money" and "Next morning, two mornings after/She woke up, grinning with laughter/I kissed her - she could not be faster!"? Granted, John Kay wound up writing "Ballcrusher" a few albums later, but let's stick with the here and now. Here and now, "She's 66 years old tonight!"

I tell you one thing - this album has less guitar crunch than the first album. Monarch's playing is a bit twangier this time out, but don't fret-worry: the arrangements have been thickened with some wonderfully full, bassy piano chords. Oh -- and I can't even imagine what the Hell's Angels said the first time that the string-heavy peace-and-love anthem "Spiritual Fantasy" came on the turntable -- probably "THIS is Steppenwolf!? I'm eating pussy and my jacket is covered in urine."

Lyrical content concerns (in order of appearance) (1) motorcycling (presumably), (2) opening your EYES to the injustice around you, (3) the inability of John Kay to return to blissful ignorance now that he has opened his EYES to the injustice around him, (4) the prophets coming together for the sake of all mankind and realizing that their teachings were the same, (5) marihuana, (6) loose sluts and how awesome it is to fuck them, (7) Ellis Dee, (8) getting the blooze, (9) replacing the blooze with a new love, (10) an instrumental, (11) again pointing out the blooze have been replaced with a new love, and (12) the quiet, Harpischordy realization that love still exists in one's once-broken heart. THE! END!

So remember, if you ever get the blooze, replace it with "Mary Jane" (marihuana), "the noble weed" (marihuana), "the finest of grasses" (crabgrass? not sure) and a "magic carpet ride" (glass of LSD poured up your ass).

Did I ever describe what the album sounds like? It sounds really good. Real melodic but tough, diverse but confident, scraggly yet beautiful. And the last 15 minutes or so sound like songs you've already heard. A LOW 8, it's settled!

By the way, Steppenwolf and The Second represent the only period during the band's entire history (pre-"John Kay & Steppenwolf" garbage, anyway) that the same line-up recorded two studio albums in a row.

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At Your Birthday Party - ABC Dunhill 1969
Rating = 7

In which bassist Rushton Moreve is replaced by old Sparrow bassist Nick St. Nicholas, soon to be celebrated by The G.T.O.s in their song "The Ooo-Ooo Man" (for some reason). This album suffers from a lack of energy and over-eager slapdash experimentation, but it's still quite a lot of hooky fun at its finest. John Kay didn't have much to contribute this time out (only writing or co-writing FOUR of the 13 tracks!), so the other band members and producer Gabriel Mekler got involved, resulting in an interesting, spotty pish-mish-kersplish of funky rock, soul, Medieval folk balladry, square dance C/W, Bo Diddly surf beats, piano pop, old-timey boogie woogie, country-blues-rock, gospel, catchy straightforward rock and complete dicking around. In other words, the album is all over the place, even more so than its two predecessors.

The production is a bit strange this time around too; everything's kind of sloshed together with little separation, and Kay's voice is over-trebled and at times even buried. Otherwise, the guitar has a less distorted but equally scraggly tone than/as before, and the songs are highlighted by very crisp drums and a nice variety of different organ and piano tones.

Please let me stress that although the experiments fail at times (album-closer "Happy Birthday" would have been a perfectly lovely song if not for the ugly, pointless inclusion of female gospel singers; the quiet mysterious instrumental "Mango Juice" was clearly just thrown together at random when the band happened upon some vibes, timpale and whatnot; and I don't think anybody will ever quite understand how the five-million-year fade-up into three-second drunken chant "Sleeping Dreaming" made the cut), there is still a very strong sense of melodicism in the record's more straightforward tracks. For example, I'm not quite sure who sings lead on the melancholy Renaissance Fair "Lovely Meter" or beautiful soul piano ballad "She'll Be Better" (actually, I'm pretty sure the latter is Edmonton, but no clue on the former), but a pair of lovelier tracks you're not likely to find on most 'motorcycle rock' albums. The straight-up rockers "Don't Cry," "Jupiter Child" and "Rock Me" deliver the post-"Magic Carpet Ride" toe-tappy singalong goods too. Actually, let me do a quick aside about "Rock Me."

When I was a teen lad discovering the world of common sense and morals, I used to see the video for "Rock Me" on the MTV and think to myself, "Now, this is the absolute epitome of stupid, sexist, women-as-holes-to-masturbate-into shit music." In fact, I used the chorus lyric ("Rock me baby, rock me baby - all night long!") as the basis for a satirical ditty that the Low-Maintenance Perennials recorded when I was 17 -- "Rock me baby, rock me baby - all night long!/We'll get high while the music's on!/I'll hold you and squeeze you all night!/Then I'll FUCKING KILL YOU! BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT, YOU USELESS PIECE OF CRAP!!!!" So imagine my agog flabbergastery upon reading the lyrics online the other night and realizing that I was COMPLETELY BUTT WRONG about it. The song is not John Kay saying "Hey, fuck me, you girl!" but in fact Mr. Kay expressing compassion for an intelligent young woman who constantly has to deal with jerks coming on to her with gross comments like "Rock me baby, rock me baby - all night long!" Isn't that fubked up!? I wonder if John Kay was really that feminist in person. I hope so! I think it's really neat that - during this smelly period of groupies, Plaster Casters and The MC5 revolutionarily having girls do all their cooking and cleaning for them - there was a long-haired hippy freak songwriter that found the whole scene offensive and dehumanizing. But who knows - he may have just been trying to write to the script of Candy (starring Ringo Starr as the Mexican gardener), where the song appeared before winding up on here.

One thing is for absolute certain - with At Your Birthday Party, you never know what's coming up next. A boogie woogie piano instrumental with two piano solos overdubbed on top? A square dance hoedown that suddenly turns into a vibratoed surf guitar break? A verbal attack on the American soldier set to a funky Booker T. and the MGs riff? Yes. Yes yes yes, and also yes. Even "Rock Me" turns into a Latin percussion dance halfway through! What ups, yo? You just doin' you thang? Boots Smicann's in town! Get out your boots!

Moving on to more important, less Steppenwolf-concerned matters - yes, it's boring when people tell you about their dreams, but you HAVE to hear about what I experienced this morning because it was insane and awesome and scary all at the same time. Okay, so I couldn't fall asleep last night - wife's out of town, upstairs was hot, so I just kept switching back and forth between the couch and a puffy blanket on the floor with very little luck. I guess I had probably been asleep for two hours when the 7:30 AM alarm blew up. So I went into "The Blue Room" (our guest bedroom), turned off the alarm, and fell into a coma on the bed in there. About 30 seconds later, Henry The Dog hopped on up like a good boy and lay down at my feet. The important things to know here are that (a) this was a work day, and (b) I never, EVER sleep in the blue room because the air conditioner in there is loud as shit and I hate it. So what happened next will, I hope, be written up in a medical journal called Fuckin' Awesome Dream Shit That Happened someday. Here, I'll skip a line.

Apparently - and I didn't realize this until a couple hours later - my eyes remained open while my brain fell asleep. My brain then proceeded to try to wake me up, knowing that I had to either go to work or let my boss know that I was working from home. But I was far, FAR too exhausted to wake up. And what happens when my brain wants me to get up, but my body is too tired to get up? I dream that I'm getting up. This has happened to me many, many times. But what made this time so bizarre and intriguing is that, as I said, my eyes were open. My eyes were open, but - because I was (a) asleep and (b) sleeping in a place where I never ever sleep - my brain couldn't figure out where I was. I could clearly see my dog at the end of the bed, the window and heater to his right, the dresser behind him, and the window and air conditioner to his left -- but I couldn't figure out where I was. But here's where it REALLY GETS COOL --

My brain, as is its wont, dreamt that I was getting out of bed and going to call my boss. However, my eyes were still open and facing a single specific direction. As such, I then dreamt that I climbed out of bed but couldn't turn my head to find the door. In my dream, I walked and crawled and tried to twist and turn my head every way I could think of to find the door, but my head would not move! And believe me, in dream form, this was SCARY AS HELL. Think of it - you're walking around a room, but no matter which way you face, your eyes for some reason will only look in a single direction, at a single viewpoint. This was fucking HORRIFYING while I was experiencing it. Remember - I still had no clue where I was! So in my dream-state, it was as if I was being held prisoner in a small, foreign room whose door I would never ever be able to find because something was wrong with my head and I couldn't turn it to look in the direction where the door was located. I went through this same frightening dilemma maybe four times (realizing I hadn't actually gotten up, getting up again, not being able to turn my head, realizing I hadn't actually gotten up, getting up again, etc) before suddenly my brain decided, "Hey! I know where I am! I'm in my childhood bedroom in Norcross, Georgia! I know exactly where the door is in this room!"

This was, of course, entirely wrong but it didn't matter to my subconscious. At this point, I have to guess that my eyes finally slipped shut because I went on to have a really irritating nightmare about walking into my parents' bedroom and using their phone to try to call my boss but her voicemail message was like 10 minutes long with her singing to her daughter on it and stuff, so I'm not going to go into that. But what I will tell you is how absolutely blown away I was when my dog barked two hours after the alarm went off, and I snapped awake to see the exact scene that had tormented me for the previous two hours -- my dog at the end of the bed, the window and heater to his right, the dresser behind him, and the window and air conditioner to his left. Thankfully, while awake I could turn my head and locate the door.


Okay, I made up that last part.

I don't regret it though, and you know why?

Because it got me more pussy than Martin Luther King! The skanky bush LOVES ghosts! That shit was flyin' through the window to wrap itself around my dick!

That's it, baby! Suck my balls!

Reader Comments

Mandrake Knight
I have that dream all the time, where I wake up and I go take a wizz, then I realize I'm not awake yet so I'm screaming inside my head, WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP and then I'm really awake and I go take a wiz but I'm still not really awake and this goes on sometimes 5 or 6 times before I actually wake up for real. I've also experienced being asleep with my eyes open and I can't move and I think I'm paralyzed - that is really frickin scary. One time I was asleep and I KNEW I was asleep, and I got sucked into this giant aqueduct and started to drown but I knew it wasn't real, so nothing bad would happen to me and sure enough, Sting and Yoko pulled me out of the water just in time. Thanks, Sting and Yoko.

I had this record when I was kid, maybe 8 or 9, and it scared me. The Mickey Mouse army on the cover scared me, and John Kay looked like a real mean drunk. Sounded like one too. The music was too all over the place for me to wrap my little brain around and a lot of the tunes had a murky, menacing fuzz organ tone. Thanks, Steppenwolf, for scaring a little kid.

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Monster - ABC Dunhill 1969
Rating = 5

Monster on the show. Do you know - the X in Xmas is a substitute crucifix for Christ? A one, two - one, two, three, four



Well, John could reach ya
And Stacy Keach ya
But here he'd find
That he can't just preach to ya!
And there was no Christmas for John Kay.

He thinks he is
More political
Than the world
But the music's shit, down the toilet swirled

A title track of three-part jive
Longer than I've been alive
A back-up of gross gospel fare
And 20 really boring guitars

John singing to bad funk/soul machine
No sign of lysergic acid
Michael Monarch, he fell out
Now country twang is what it's about



He spits in the mic!
To bum riffs I don't like!
Is that the guitarist shittin'?
They should have just been quittin'.

I'd rather listen to Frankie Lymon


Out of good hooks, except "Move Over" cooks
Darkened with gloom like a Bloodrock tune

Although the tunes are thin
"Draft Resistor" is a win
Lots of instruments come in

And "Suicide" stays in...

A song called "Fag"!

There is no Christmas for John Kay

No hits!
No sold units!
Just the ex-fans passing by
Bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye

Ah 1!

(to the tune of Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face")

Add your thoughts?

7 - ABC Dunhill 1970
Rating = 7

7? More like "Rating = 7," if you ask me!!!!

Actually that wouldn't be a very good name for an album.

So here we are with another new bass player. Early 70's funky hard rock. Some other guy aside from John Kay sings a lot. Some really fun crunchy early 70s rockers! Even when it's not hooky, it's still fun, funky and rollicking. Pretty straightforward early 70s choogle rock, with lots of cathcy little guitar bits. This is Steppenwolf with a SHOT OF SOUTHERN-FRIED BOOGIE ROCK!!!! Unfortunately, 2 of the 4 best songs are covers. Nevertheless, if you like sexxxsleaze choogle crunch fuzz with a cowbell and Eddie Vedder, buy 7 and shut your ass!

Get your funky white-man rock out, and include your guitar. The hit single though, "Who Needs Ya," very clearly reuses the same exact guitar line they already used in "The Pusher" (just faster), so don't let them get away with that. They also do a different Hoyt Axton song, but it's a SAD anti-hard drug song, rather than an angry one. It's sad, acoustic, country and called "Snowblind Friend." It's sad! So is a dick that's broken.

Have you ever been sad? Maybe we all have somtimes. But that's not the point.

The other singer, probably the drummer, now sounds like a Free/Faces raspy sex god guy. It's weird to hear Steppenwolf sounding like a sweaty young hairy-chested sex man but there he is, fucking your wife in "Fat Jack" and other tracks.

Great energy! Sometimes.

This was interesting - I was depressed and drunk tonight after watching a terrible, boring piece of shit movie called Zeta One (thanks for nothing, Britain - you DOUCHEBAG), and my wife slipped me a Viagra. It didn't give me a poppy boner per se, but after I had sex with the wife lady, I noticed that my skin flute (or "penis") was still kinda big. So that's what Viagra does - it makes it so your pud stays big after you squirt salt jelly all over the woman you love's internal pussy.

If I were sober, I would find that last paragraph beyond vomitous. Luckily I'm so high, I could suck some guy's cock and convince myself it's a tit!

Fun, very good vibes on this album. Choogle ahoy! Like Grand Funk Railroad without sounding a single bit like Grand Funk Railroad! Never mind.

The songs are fun, smile-filled and YEAH! The first song, a failed fuck-funker called "Ball Crusher," sucks pretty fiercely though. So don't judge the album by that. After all, it's entitled "Ball Crusher," and by "Ball," they mean "Male Testicle." Also, keep up the good work! But they don't. Their next couple albums stink, and maybe after that too.

(*guzzles beer from a hole in Johnny Carson's corpse ball*)

That was hilarious.

Add your thoughts?

For Ladies Only - ABC Dunhill 1971
Rating = 5

In the market for some mixed messages? Try THIS weirdo excuse for a concept album. Nice title, right? Fine, now look at the purposely lascivious flowers on the cover, the band members smirkingly reading feminist literature on the back cover, and a gigantic dick-car in the gatefold. So it's ANTI-feminist? Well, no... They do sing some honestly feminist songs on here, including Mars Bonfire's "Tenderness," in which the narrator bemoans the fact that he treated his former lover so abusively and admits that she was right and he will likely never experience true love again. But then there are ridiculously sexist songs too, like Jerry Edmonton's "Jaded Strumpet," with its astounding refrain, "You know that girl blows trumpet!" Not only that, but some songs mix messages even within themselves. The title track, for example, spends two verses telling the listener to stop treating women like second class citizens and to support women's rights for a more fair society, then concludes with a headscratching third verse about how he (the singer) will support women's rights outside his bedroom, but INSIDE the bedrom, those bitches better do whatever the fuck he wants, the cunts! (Or, as John Kay more eloquently states, "Man, woman, hog or dog, I'm callin' the plays/ And if you find the need to raise objections/ Don't talk to me 'bout your wasted time/ You know you made your own selections!")

So... yes. I don't know. There definitely seems to be some honest pro-feminist sympathy going on here, but it's like they're afraid to go the whole way and risk giving up whatever white male privilege they still possess. And the passive-aggressive result is downright creepy. I mean, the jacket is OBVIOUSLY mocking the feminist agenda, but the lyrics are, you know, sorta split. And this isn't the first time that 'feminist' lyrics have cropped up in John Kay's work, so... I just don't know. Maybe other band members were making fun of him for feeling this way? Who the hell knows. What makes the whole thing even more mysterious is that John Kay's official Steppenwolf site ( doesn't even feature a page for this album -- as if he doesn't even want to think about it, or be forced to explain what the hell the point was. Does anybody know? Were any of you around back in '71 to catch their PR rap for this release? If so, let me know. I wasn't even living in my mother's body yet.

"But what does it sound like, Mark?" is what I'm asking myself today. Well, Mark - it sounds so good, they BROKE UP RIGHT AFTER IT CAME OUT!!!

They have yet another new guitarist, a "Kent Henry" fellow who quite really enjoys his country-blues slide guitar, but is also aware that this particular ill-fated combo is also beginning a subtle embrace of stupid macho cock rock. So let's say this is Steppenwolf with an infusion of country-blues and Dick-Rock. John Kay only wrote/co-wrote 3 of the 10 songs (unsurprisingly, these three are by far the most melodic on the record), with Dennis "Mars Bonfire" Edmonton contributing 3 of the worst songs he's ever written (lame-o tough guy rocker "The Night Time's For You" and sped-up "The Pusher" rewrite "Ride With Me" should have been rejected out of hand) and the rest of the band doing dots and dibblies with the rest of the zippy zoppy.

Of particular note: Halfway through the title track, the country-spiced choogle rock disappears and is replaced by a minor-key classical piano composition by Goldy McJohn, which soon turns into a full-band jazz piece before returning to the choogle portion. Don't think for a second that this isn't a classic case of two entirely different songs being cemented together just for the sake of creating an 'epic.' These two songs have NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH EACH OTHER. I like them both though, so way to go!

Also of particular note: If the description "country-fried jazz rock" appeals to you, please visit "Black Pit" in the middle of side two.

On second thought, if the description "country-fried jazz rock" appeals to you, please visit "A Doctor." It sounds like a shit-kickin' hoedown L.A. cocaine jacuzzi party -- like both elements of The Eagles squished together into a single track. "Witchy Woman" and "Heartache Tonight" playing at the same time. Fourteen barrels of human filth surging down your throat, your jaws held apart with a table vice.

Otherwise, great album!

Reader Comments
Jeez, I'd forgotten about the big-dick car. What a ride!

Kent Henry was apparently a kind of mop-up guy for some of these second-tier bands in the early Seventies. You know, the guy who joined the band after the REAL guitarist quit, so the band could make one last crappy album. So for example, after Mike Piniera left Blues Image (to join Iron Butterfly, replacing their original guitarist) Kent Henry joined Blues Image, who proceeded to suck without Pineira. So then, after Blues Image went down the toilet, he went to Steppenwolf, who had already flushed but were still swirling in the bowl about the time Henry arrived.

Add your thoughts?

Slow Flux - Epic 1974
Rating = 4

You young people with your fancy cars think you know everything about life, and you're right. But if you have any questions, let me know. Here are some bits of advice and thought processes that affect an aged old fuckleberry like myself:

- The world sucks an egg because everyone's a liar. Just to give one example, 90% of court cases only exist because one of the parties is lying. This not only pisses me off, but in fact pisses MY PISS off. Just tell the truth, you pricks. Be a man.

- Most things just don't matter. Let's say you're on the street and a 'tough guy' brushes your shoulder. Even though nobody who knows you is around, you feel that your masculinity has been hurt so you shout, "Watch it, asshole!" The 'tough guy' turns around, says, "What did you say?" You respond, "You heard me. Watch it." 'Tough guy' pulls out a knife and cuts your dick off. You sit in hospital with no dick and wonder, "Why did I give a shit that a guy brushed my shoulder?" Think about things like this before getting yourself mixed up with assholes over something minor and stupid. Alternately, if it's something honestly important, kill the 'tough guy' with a ridge-hand strike to the throat.

- Don't ever try to be "cool." It's worthless once you're out of high school anyway. Instead, think about who you want to be, and try to become that person. I don't mean like try to become Evel Kneivel or something; I mean think to yourself, "Do I want people to see me as a dork who farts all the time?" If the answer is no, consider the potential costs and benefits of dumping your loser friends and buying some Gas-X. Ditto for being a whiny little asshole or whatever you young people are like these days. But don't ever actively try to be "cool." It's immature, it's dishonest, and people of even slightly above-average intelligence will laugh at you behind your back for it. Just try to be who you want to be. I already said that. It worked for me! I was a big fuckin' dork up through 10th grade, when I decided that I wanted to be a punk rocker like Dee Dee Ramone and/or Jello Biafra. I wanted to be more mature, less afraid, more moral, less easily-bullied, etc. It all went together somehow and my personality developed pretty well from that point on, thanks to cocaine. Ha ha! Just kidding about the cocaine! So remember - don't try to be "cool"; just take cocaine.

- A life partner is pretty goddamned important. I can only speak for me on this though. Maybe you like jerking off all over the wall and crying yourself to sleep every night. Otherwise, I recommend trying to learn what the opposite sex appreciates in a mate, and working to be at least a reasonable facsimile of such. It probably helps to have some friends who are girls, so they can help you dress better and smell less foul. Not if they're lesbians though, because lesbians don't know anything about women.

- Say what you will about how evil the imperialist U.S. is, always trying to capture more power by killing innocent people and murdering Indians, but think a bit about human nature (i.e. self-interest, desire for comfort, lust for power) and name a single country that wouldn't do the same thing if they were in our position. I'm not saying it's right or even that I support it; I'm just saying that religious and cultural differences, along with xenophobic distrust, fear and/or envy, easily ensure that we will never have a strong, supportive "World Community" out there helping everybody out. Granted, it would be nice if George W. Bush would realize the importance of not having every single country in the world hate you, but the reason we have politicians in the first place is so that the most corrupt, amoral assholes in the nation are put in position to deal with the evil, power-mad pieces of shit that run every other country in the world. Besides, the U.S. has only been an Empire for about a hundred years, and every Empire crumbles. So enjoy it while you can, fellow Americans - our children's children's children are poised to be the playthings of the Islamic World! (I don't mean that in a racist way; they just seem to have the numbers, resources and most reasons to despise us, so if anybody's going to replace us as an Empire...) (Unless the EU actually works, I guess) (Look, I'm just talking out my ass here - but stick with me! I'm going places nowhere fast!)

Which brings us to Steppenwolf's 'reunion' album Slow Flux.

Slow Flux!? More like BLOW SUX, if you ask me!!!

Blow Sux!? More like OLD FUX, if you ask me!!!

Well howdy-do, it's another new guitarist. Billy Cochran, nephew of the late great Eddie Cochran. This guy is more rock/less country than the last couple guitarists, confidently whipping out '70s hard rock Deep Purple licks and such. Unfortunately the band's new sound is a combination of AWFUL macho hard rock riffs and generic Bob Seger boogie-choogle rock. There are still a few countryish compositions, but the playing even in these is strictly Northern. Also, have I mentioned that Steppenwolf's music is always drenched in organ? Usually Hammond? Well, it is. I should have mentioned that at some point if I didn't. It plays as large a role in the Steppenwolf Sound as the guitar does. In fact, you know what? If you're a guitar player and your name isn't Michael Monarch, how about GETTING THE FUCK OUT STEPPENWOLF, YOU ASSHOLE?!?!??!??

Moving on, it is evident that somehow, during the course of the previous three years, John Kay's melodic sensitivity and songwriting sensibility went flying out the pigeon of a dream. He wrote or co-wrote only four of these ten tracks, and not a single one holds a lousy candle to his previous work. One of them's about Richard Nixon though, so that's pretty funny.

To be honest, the album really only has a couple of strong compositions -- Cochran's "Get Into The Wind" is a really fast fun uptempo rockin' good tune time and Bassist Biondo's "Morning Blue" is a very pretty country acoustic arpeggiated ballad. The rest... fail. I don't even know what they were meant to achieve, but trust me - they fail. The big cock rockers ("Gang War Blues," "Children Of The Night," "Jeraboah") are about as street-tough and threatening as a wet noodle resting atop your balls where your penis used to be, one song includes the lyric "She keeps her cylinder greased and loaded," and "Fool's Fantasy" is straight-up DISCO ROCK! Complete with a synth sci-fi wash in the chorus! So bad, it's nearly not atrocious!

Up until their original break-up, Steppenwolf had never made a bad album. A few mediocrities sure, but all of their pre-breakup work was at least interesting even when not melodically gripping. Alternately, every single one of their post-reunion albums suck dog dick dirt off the windshield of my ass. And I haven't even heard all of them!!!! I'm just using my ass windshield knowledge to make what I feel is an accurate prediction. Before the breakup, Steppenwolf sounded like a good little band of long-hairs. Since the reunion(s), they've sounded like bearded anachronistic idiots in tight leather pants playing to four people in a redneck bar.

Sure, it's great work if you can get it, but wouldn't they rather still be touring huge arenas, like Grand Funk Railroad's Mark Farner?


Saturday, Nov. 4th -- Thunderhill Race Track in Kyle, TX
Friday, Nov. 10th -- Freemont Street Experience in Las Vegas, NV

WAIT! HOLD ON! DON'T BUY YOUR PLANE TICKETS YET! I just noticed that Three Dog Night (featuring 2 of the 3 original members, but not the one whose dick exploded) is playing EPCOT in mid-October! And they've got some FANTASTIC casino gigs lined up for November. So save your quarters!!!





Isn't it incredible to think that so many great performers from the '70s have still not committed suicide?

Reader Comments
Hey Matt Pringle, I was just reading your reviews of the Stepford Wolves and saw your little bit about our great country of America and its future status as an empire/world superpower and I felt compelled to add some useless information for no reason. Well first off, I agree that it's sort of ridiculous for people to point the finger at the good ole' USofA for just doing what nations have been doing since the dawn of civilization and what any of these cranky "other countries" would be doing, and have done, in our position (reverse cowgirl). That being said I also agree that it's not the best way of doing things and I wish people would stop being jerks and everyone could just live together with internet porn uniting us all. Secondarily, I'd like to say that aside from Iran developing nuclear weapons, the Middle-East aren't too much of a threat as far as toppling the US as a global superpower and becoming one themselves. It's those galdarned Red Chinese who will be the ones kicking our collective ass in the future, economically and perhaps militarily. In about 25 years I wouldn't be surprised to see the EU (if they do in fact get their shit together) allied with the USA, Japan, S. Korea, etc against China and N. Korea. Perhaps there would be some Chinese/Middle-Eastern alliance, what with China opposing sanctions against Iran recently, but probably not as the Muslim countries can't abide an atheist regime and it's even somewhat more likely they'd side with us if they had to choose between the lesser of two evils (we're well on our way to becoming a backward, regressive theocracy, so they should feel more at home with us). Anyway, I'm not much more in the know than you on these issues, but if anyone's going to oust us from the top spot it's China. The Middle East is no match for us economically or militarily and the Chinese are as dedicated to communism and the state as the Arabs are to Islam. Plus there's a billion of them. And all the dudes are going to be really pissed off because China's becoming a real sausagefest, what with all the abandoning of female babies to die and all. At any rate, the coming years should be a barrel of laughing monkeys!

Add your thoughts?

Hour Of The Wolf - Epic 1975
Rating = 4

I can't remember whether I mentioned this before or just thought about it, so let's talk about it again. Why is it that when a woman refers to a female friend, she uses the phrase "my girlfriend"? You know, "My girlfriend Sheila says blah blah blah..." Do they just want us to think they're all a bunch of lesbos? Is that their 'schtick'? You seldom hear a straight-shooting man talk about playing tennis with "my boyfriend Paul," so what's up with these teasing women? So remember - the next time you hear a straight woman say "I'm having lunch with my girlfriend Tanya tomorrow," yell really loudly through a megaphone in the middle of church, "DON'T GET ANY PUBIC HAIR IN YOUR TEETH, YOU PUSSY-GULPING PIECE OF SHIT!"

While we're on the topic of pieces of shit, Hour Of The Wolf represents one of those defining moments in a band's career when you can point at them and without controversy announce, "This band is no longer (INSERT BAND NAME HERE)." After eight years of good livin', keyboardist Goldy McJohn finally said to himself, "Say.... This music isn't good!" and left the Steppenwolf fold. As such, Hour Of The Wolf was recorded by founding Steppenwolf vocalist John Kay, founding Steppenwolf drummer Jerry Edmonton, and three musicians who were literally born without names or faces. The results were startling: my cholesterol is insanely high.

Luckily my doctor put me on Lipitor. Let's hope it works: the only stroke I want is the kind that involves my Helmeted Tan Skin Snake With Little Rivers Inside That Gets Large When Y

The results were diverse and remarkably 'off' on all counts. Just as the first, best incarnation of Steppenwolf had tackled a gigantic variety of late-'60s popular music styles on their first two albums, this later, less good incarnation herein tries to put their stamp on a broad selection of mid-'70s rock subgenres. The problem is that (a) mid-'70s rock subgenres were pretty gross and stupid, and (b) the mid-'70s Steppenwolf line-up was kind of gross and stupid.

Thus, we get eight songs representing eight different sounds (none of them approximating that of classic Steppenwolf), only four of which were penned by actual members of Steppenwolf. Kay himself co-wrote only a single song. Why was this album even made?! At any rate, check out this crazy stylistic hootenanny:

1. "Caroline (Are You Ready For The Outlaw World)?" - Overblown 50's-tinged rock and roll with horns. Sounds Like: Bruce Springsteen.

2. "Annie Annie Over" - Moody L.A. cocaine jazz-disco-soul-rock. Sounds Like: Steely Dan.

3. "Two For The Love Of One" - Big dopey macho rock. Sounds Like: The Last Steppenwolf Album.

4. "Just For Tonight" - Country-tinged pop. Sounds Like: Late-Period Foghat, John Stewart.

5. "Hard Rock Road" - Crunchy rock and roll with boogie woogie piano, horns and female back-up vocalists. Sounds Like: Rolling Stones.

6. "Someone Told A Lie" - Clumpy-dumpy roller rink macho-glam-flash-rock. Sounds Like: The (Mid-70's) Who.

7. "Another's Lifetime" - Swampy ballad. Sounds Like: a very bad song.

8. "Mr. Penny Pincher" - Wimpy 'toughness' with sci-fi synth drama! Sounds Like: Styx.

So you see, even if you're planning to make a foul album without a single fully effective track, you can still make it interesting! And believe me, this record is well worth inserting into your ear at least once, if only to hear Steppenwolf at their most confused and awkward. Yes, that's John Kay's great gruff voice and it's hard to miss Edmonton's ham-handed clompy-dompy drum style, but no other sound on this album resembles "Born To Be Wild"-era Steppenwolf the slightest bit. I'm not putting 'em down for this, necessarily -- The Fall hardly have two albums that sound the same, and I love them to pisces. I'm just letting you know, "Hey, guy who loves 'Magic Carpet Ride.' You might not want to start your collection with this particular album. That which is intriguingly lame is still, unfortunately, lame."

It's sad how they have to shoot horses when they get lame. I don't want to go into that though. I'm already making me all depressed. I love animules. Especially Henry The Dog. We just bought him a new collar with stars, and a sparkly "H" to wear on it. His friend at King's Pharmacy saw it and said, "Henry! You're all blinged out!" But he just doin he thang. Muthafuckin Henry The Dog gots the 4-1-1, aiight? His shit's bananas, word is bond. Henry The Dog be trippin' on the chronic fo'shizzle. Check out the grillz on his hooptie! Representin' Skeet-skeet! Badonkadonk! He a bangin' buzzin' buggin' bammer baller biter bopper buster!


I'm sorry, I just don't feel that YAA has been doing a very good job.

Add your thoughts?

Skullduggery - Epic 1976
Rating = 2


Hey children! Fold your computer screen so that the arrow-points touch each other, and enjoy the secret "fold-in" review!


If that didn't work for you, your computer is set to a different font than mine or something. Feel free to email me for the answer if you can't figure it out!

Reader Comments
AWESOME REVIEW!!! great idea!!!
no, I've never heard SWolf besides Born to be wild.
"This record is almost Godfuckingly bad"? That's what I get.

I like your thoughts on women saying "my girlfriend." I think it's from a different review on this page, but I don't give a fuck.
I have every Steppenwolf album made, I think. I remember hiding that For Ladies Only gatefold from my mom -- not the kind of thing that was acceptable for a 14-year-old girl. And your review is spot on from their funky beginnings to their crapola end. It is a shame that Steppenwolf is largely forgotten with the exception of Born to Be Wild. Their early stuff was great.

Robert W Naugler
I have been a fan of Steppenwolf for many years, and I've had an interview with John in Halifax Nova Scotia Canada year's back, our conversation at the time included his court battles with so called "Steppenwolf bands .John is a down to earth guy, with a respect for life, an our environment ,and talented musician and song writer. He has also inspired me to form my own band The Midtown Blues Band out of Halifax.

So, I consider him one of Canada's greats.

Keep on Rockin John.

Add your thoughts?

Wolftracks - Black Leather 1982
Rating = 2

Following a heavenly six-year respite from new Steppenwolf albums, John Kay picked a bunch of scabs off his leg and began releasing albums as "John Kay & Steppenwolf." Four studio albums resulted, and none of them had more than one good song!

Wolftracks consists of demo-quality recordings of corny, slicked-up rock songs drowned out by synths and organs. The band tackles more subgenres than you'd expect, including hard rock, new wave, country-rock, corny balladry, funk rock, disco, boogie rock and -- thanks to a busy show-offy bassist -- even JAZZ! Unfortunately, the songwriting is so far down the toilet that it's way out in the middle of the ocean. A few tracks have their slightly less horrendous moments -- specifically the goony new wave verse of "Time" and Bad Company chord changes of "None of the Above" and "The Balance" -- but the only song that sounds good all the way through is, pathetically enough, a cover. Despite all their best intentions, John Kay & Steppendogshit were unable to ruin Argent's "Hold Your Head Up." So congratulations on being a slightly better than awful cover band, John Kay & Steppendogshit!

Lowlights include:

- "Every Man For Himself," which sounds like a Bruce Springsteen/Styx jamfest (i.e. dying and going to Hell)
- "Hot Night in a Cold Town," which combines a slow ballad verse, bombastic Thin Lizzy bridge, and puss-rock Billy Joel chorus to create the World's Finest American Song!
- "Down to Earth," which sounds like one of those sub-Knack 'new wave' power pop bands you'd find in a terrible early '80s slasher movie (ex. Graduation Day, New Year's Evil)
- "For Rock-N-Roll," a slow wimpy nostalgic bag of dung that is almost violently NOT "Rock-N-Roll"

Everything else is so good, why you wouldn't believe it. In fact, here are some great jokes about it.

Why is this album so good?
Because you can't stop rock and roll!

Knock knock!
Who's there?
John Kay & Steppenwolf's Wolftracks!
John Kay & Steppenwolf's Wolftracks who?
John Kay & Steppenwolf's Wolftracks is a great fucking album!

What do you get when you cross this album with a pile of shit?
A shining bag of priceless gold!

Why did the copy of John Kay & Steppenwolf's Wolftracks cross the road?
To bring joy to all the fans of good old rock and roll on the other side!

What's the difference between Steppenwolf and John Kay & Steppenwolf?
Steppenwolf was a wildly inconsistent rock band, but John Kay & Steppenwolf were born in a manger and named "Jesus Christ"!

How many copies of John Kay & Steppenwolf's Wolftracks does it take to change a light bulb?
I don't understand the question. Why would you use John Kay & Steppenwolf's Wolftracks to change a light bulb? Would you use a newborn baby to fix a spark plug? Or a beating human heart to dust behind the television? No, you wouldn't. So change your own goddamned light bulb. Prick.

Add your thoughts?

Paradox - Black Leather 1984
Rating = 2

Another day, another malignant John Kay & Steppenwolf album. This one answers the age-old question, "If Steppenwolf were to play synth-pop, it would suck, wouldn't it?" The answer is unequivocally "Maybe." You see, as terrible as the sissy-balls "Watch Your Innocence," soulless girl pop "Nothin' Is Forever" and Don Henley synth-brappin' "The Fixer" are, the suave electro-pop "Only The Strong Survive" is also terrible. Wait that's not a good s

What the Bad Idea were they thinking!? That a world enamored with Duran Duran and "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" would automatically go jiffynuts over anything with a dumbass '80s synth on it? I realize that John Kay probably suffered a lack of confidence at this point due to not having scored a hit in some time, but changing public tastes had nothing to do with the downfall of Steppenwolf. The real problem is that they hadn't put out a decent record since 19goddamned70!

Whether you're looking for shitty synth-pop, shitty funk-rock, shitty reggae, shitty acoustic balladry or shitty disco, Paradox has it, and it is shitty. A playful guitar lick in "Ain't Nothin' Like It Used To Be" renders it almost a "Don't Step On The Grass, Sam" for the plastic '80s, and the sad and pretty "Slender Thread of Hope" is worth hearing even if too morose to love. Still, the only song on here that I would honestly *enjoy* hearing again is the ridiculously bouncy John Kay-meets-Devo album closer "Circles of Confusion." It's absolutely ludicrous! It sounds like it should be on an album called Oh No! It's John Kay & Steppenwolf, Yo!

Some of the lyrics are quite thoughtful though, which is good because none of the music is. Here, look:

"My agent called to tell me my record's in the chart
#90 with an anchor; I never said that it was art!
I gotta eat too, you know!"

"One pill in the morning, two joints at night
Three spoons any time you wanna feel right
Do coke to remember, shoot smack to forget
And blame the world for the peace you haven't found yet"

"News comes on at ten, the public servant will explain
how pouring water on the drowning little man will solve the mess
To save our way of life and to help us all survive,
those with nothing will have to stay alive on even less
And as he spoke these words of wisdom
Like a cruel joke beyond his scope
With just one stroke from his fountain pen
He cut the last final thread of hope"


Unfortunately, not ALL the lyrics are up to this calibre. Check out some of these others:

"Ohhhh I'm gonna buttfuck my wife of love, sweet baby
Buttfuck my wife of love
Pull out my flapjack and squeeze it in her knapsack
Buttfuck my wife of love

"My daughter has a big smelly vagina
Stinkin' up the town
Big and pink and hairy and gross
And mucousy and brown
Someone shove a house in there!
To clog up all the stench!
Holy moley Mr. Bowly!
My cock just shrank one inch!"

"Here we come
Walking down the street
We get the funniest books from
The Library of Meat
Hey hey, we're John Kay & Steppenwolf!
And people say we John Kay & Steppenwolf around!
But we're too busy reading books about meat
to realize we're terrible and there's no reason for us to exist"

Weren't those lyrics awful? Didn't they make you "throw up in your mouth a little"? Man, when I read them, I almost "threw up in my mouth a little"!

Talk about something making you wanna "throw up in your mouth a little"!

Add your thoughts?

Rock & Roll Rebels - Qwil 1987
Rating = 2

Rock & Roll Rebels -- rebelling AGAINST rock & roll!!!

This time out, Junkie and the Wolf Steppers bring you the finkest in old-person pop rock: hookless except for the cliches, trebly hair metal guitars buried under corny '80s synths, and big reverbed gated drums plodding out tempos so sluggish your beard will grow a second, whiter beard. The songs sound as if Kay intended them to appeal to teenagers, but they're far too awful and stupid to impress anybody over three years old.

From the cornchip hair metal "Give Me Life" to the cheez-it love ballad 'Turn Out The Lights," from the 'wants to be anthemic but fails' title track to the 'tries to sound angry but just sucks' "Everybody Knows You," from the 'appears to be a Robert Palmer impression' "Man On A Mission" to the 'so obviously a Journey rip-off that it includes the lyric "Keep on Believin"' "Hold On," and from the re-recorded Paradox suckass "Give Me News I Can Use" to the newly recorded bag of fecal matter "Rage," this is one great album that gives and gives again, and keeps on giving again and again until it's still giving.

On a hilarious yet pathetic note, the best song on the album is the one that doesn't feature a John Kay songwriting credit: Alan O'Day's "Replace The Face" may not be as awesome as his most famous credit, The Righteous Brothers "Rock'n'Fucken'Roll Heaven," but its driving beat and dark little riff will undoubtedlessly have you smiling grin to ear! The only other tune worth hearing is "Rock Steady (I'm Rough and Ready)," an adorably dated number distinguished by its use of about eight different silly synth tones.

Now here are a bunch of recent Facebook status updates, preferably by Mark Prindle:

Mark Prindle plans to award John Kay & Steppenwolf's 1984 masterpiece "Paradox" a 2/10. If you've ever wanted to hear Steppenwolf play synth-pop, (a) you're in luck!, and (b) what is wrong with you!?

Mark Prindle just got tix to see Paul McCartney live at Yankee Stadium! He's my favorite Beatle besides Tony Sheridan so I'm pretty excited.

Mark Prindle just watched "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" for the second time. They didn't appear any more intelligent than the first time I watched it.

Mark Prindle just watched "Demented," a psycho-thriller starring porn star Harry Reems in a non-adult role, and featuring a British actress as the sister of the American lead. The casting director was perhaps not the finest in the business.

Mark Prindle tried to watch a horror movie about a killer penis tonight, but it was so depressing I turned it off and watched a documentary about teenaged girls being forced into prostitution instead.

What in God's name was Steve Miller thinking when he recorded and released this "Circle of Love" piece of crap!? Have you heard this thing?

Mark Prindle finally got around to watching the documentary "Capturing the Friedmans" tonight. It was extraordinary, disturbing and heartbreaking. I also downloaded an AC/DC "Thunderstruck" ringtone. It was extraordinary, disturbing and heartbreaking.

Mark Prindle just watched a fun old slasher called "Popcorn." Tony Roberts was killed in it, which is always a good thing.

Mark Prindle laughed heartily at "Bridesmaids" today. You know he laughed. You heard him laugh. He laughed and laughed and laughed, but then he left and now he knows you're utterly mad.

Mark Prindle just enjoyed "Blood from the Mummy's Tomb." If you switch around the first letters, you get "Mud from the Tummy's Bloom." This is why I wish "Weird Al" Yankovic was a filmmaker.

Mark Prindle can't wait for tonight's Cars concert! I'm hoping Ben Orr's spirit will make a guest appearance to sing "Who's gonna drive you home? A ghost."

Mark Prindle tonight watched "Cruising," starring Karen Allen as "The Only Woman In The Cast." It was gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay-reat!

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Rise & Shine - EMI 1990
Rating = 1

Go back to sleep!

Heh heh. Yeah, "go back to sleep," that was a good one.

With special guest appearances by Paul McCartney, Joey Ramone and Lemmy Kilmister, along with several songs written especially for the project by Nick Cave and Paul Westerberg, this album might've been pretty good. Unfortunately, it has none of those things.

Rise & Shine is last-rate bar band garbage. None of the songs seem geared towards little kids for a change, and the mix finally places the guitars and keyboards at the same volume, but there are no memorable melodies at all. NOT A SINGLE ONE.


Okay, TWO. (The hooky choruses of "The Daily Blues" and "Now and Forever") But they go away real quick.

On the lyrical pibb, I'm "hot" on the fact that Kay wrote a song about his harrowing memories of the Berlin Wall, but the tune itself is awful bloated melodrama. As for the rest of the album, song titles like "Keep Rockin'," "Now and Forever," "Do or Die" and "Let's Do It All" pretty much say it all.

And so Steppenwolf's recorded career ends on the absolute lowest note possible, with an album full of idiotic boogie rock and tempered AOR wallpaper. On the bright side, "Sign On The Line" has a chorus you can sing Buckner & Garcia's "Froggy's Lament" to.

Now here's a bunch of great movie titles that somebody should use:

The Cannonball Mosey
Bocci Ball: The Filmstrip
The Chef Who Only Cooked Now & Laters
The Boston Chainsaw Massachusecre
Jaws 6: We Can't Remember If We Made A Fifth One Or Not
Wes Craven's John Carpenter: Fixin' Up the Toilet!
Animal House II: Schindler's List of New Pledges
Harry Potterson and the Blatant Copyright Infringement
Maximum Target Impact Distance Marked for Extreme Sudden Law Conquest to Kill Siege Domination Edge of Execution Danger Battle Fist for Justice
Relieving My Bowels On Your Chest: A Romantic Comedy

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