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7
Steppenwolf

Dunhill DSX 50090
Released: November 1970
Chart Peak: #19
Weeks Charted: 17
Certified Gold: 4/12/71

John KayWell, Steppenwolf have come out with their seventh album; the Yang Boys with the hard-driving rhythms and tough bass lines and what did you expect, anyway? Check out the manly stride positions the group assumes on the record jacket and you pretty well have the content laid out before you; subjugation -- they're talking about bar rooms, bikes, and the stud as the American dream. Some people find it makes sense and that's OK, and some people find it offensive and that's OK, too. But anyway you run it down, constant rhythm lines, unrelieved by change or melody, turns into monotonous sludge, even if you keep the tempo up.

However, the group does seem to be noticing the existence of melody. They pay tribute to it in two pieces which have really nice intricacies in them: "Renegade" on side one, and a Hoyt Axton number, "Snow Blind Friend," on side two. This last cut is entirely different from the other songs; it is a very agreeable acoustic thing, with pleasant harmonies; you can only wish for more. But after the build up (and at this point they actually have you listening), you get your ears riddled with "Who Needs Ya?" The title speaks for itself. The same stud stuff you've been splattered with since "Ball Crusher," the very first number.




Further reading on
Super Seventies RockSite!:

Album Review:
For Ladies Only

Album Review:
Easy Rider - Soundtrack

Single Review:
"Monster/Suicide/America"

Steppenwolf Lyrics

Steppenwolf Videos

John Kay Mugshots

The tension which characterized some of Steppenwolf's more popular material is missing: "Born To Be Wild" showed that simplicity in approach could still get a rise out of people, and its tension was its best asset. Nonetheless, there is compensation to be found in the other musical possibilities the group is beginning to explore. Not only acoustic and melodic ideas, but more subtle rhythm patterns.

"Renegade" is perhaps the best example of it; the break has some very fine musical complexities. There are other spots on the album where this comes through, however; notably on the second side: "Earschplittenlouderboomer" and "Hippo Stomp," but for those who like lyrical music -- and most people are beginning to, music as a peace source -- Steppenwolf still has a long way to go. That is, there is not enough melody and intricacies nor are they developed fully in Steppenwolf's own terms yet. And the lyrics of the songs are still pretty greasy; they will have to evolve apace. Then, maybe, after all this, they will still be talking the same stuff, but it will sound pretty.

- Alice Polesky, Rolling Stone, 12/2/70.

Bonus Reviews!

A no-nonsense rock outfit who can do it every time out, Steppenwolf continues to surpass the competition with its seventh album and their best yet. John Kay & Co. are together as never before, and without frills get down to the business of jamming and creating the funky groove Steppenwolf is famous for. Spare, rugged, hungry arrangements bring out the grittiest of "Fat Jack," "Renegade" and "Who Needs Ya'." A dark beauty.

- Billboard, 1970.

Laying back hasn't been good for them, and neither has getting heavy. Their way lies somewhere between -- which come to think of it is also how it is for the rest of us. C-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

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