How do you follow up “Born To Be Wild” and “The Pusher”? You release “Magic Carpet Ride” and Don’t Step on the Grass Sam” of course. With their eponymous album Steppenwolf, John Kay and the boys established themselves as the cream of the stoner boogie-rock crop of bands that included Black Oak Arkansas, Mountain, Brownsville Station, Moby Grape, Foghat, and many others . The appearance of “Born to be Wild” in the film Easy Rider also didn’t hurt in cultivating their image as the ultimate biker and party band.
Steppenwolf’s follow-up album, boringly but accurately released as Steppenwolf, The Second was in many ways a more solid effort than it’s more famous predecessor. The songwriting is a little tighter, the riffs are a little bit more blues oriented, and there is even a sniff of jazz along with the song “Spiritual Fantasy” which is a rare acoustic number for the band. In other words it shows a band maturing and trying to find their identity without losing their balls-out mojo.
Where “The Pusher” was an anti-drug song “Don’t Step on the Grass, Sam” is an organ-riffed tour-de- force that celebrates the mighty ganja and derides those that choose to oppose the use of this “gateway” drug. Whichever side of the bong you reside, the fact remains, this is a great song and don’t be such an ass Sam.
As far as the “Magic Carpet Ride” vs. “Born to be Wild” debate goes, it’s kind of like the age old “Ginger” or “Mary Anne” conundrum. They’re both hot chicks so just tell your mother you’re engaged to “Magic Carpet Ride” when in reality you’re making love to “Born to be Wild”.
Overall the album is a good listen, “Resurrection” asks you to shake your money maker and shows that the band definitely had an influence on “The Black Crowes”. The song “28” actually has an Elvis Costello feel to it, a bright, jumpy tune celebrating a girls 28th birthday, ah……..those were the days.
The most impressive thing about this album is that it was released the same year as “Born to be Wild”. “Back in the Day”, It was the norm for an artist to release multiple albums in the same year. Today unless you are pre- Mandy Moore Ryan Adams it is almost unheard of to release multiple albums in a three year span let alone one year.
Actually the most impressive thing about this album is that it still sounds great……………43 years after it’s born on date.
– Bernie Sparrow San Francisco, California USA
All tracks composed by John Kay; except where indicated
- “Faster than the Speed of Life” (Mars Bonfire) – 3:10
- “Tighten Up Your Wig” – 3:06
- “None of Your Doing” (Kay, Gabriel Mekler) – 2:50
- “Spiritual Fantasy” – 3:39
- “Don’t Step on the Grass, Sam” – 5:43
- “28″ (Gabriel Mekler) – 3:12
- “Magic Carpet Ride” (Kay, Rushton Moreve) – 4:30
- “Disappointment Number (Unknown)” – 4:52
- “Lost and Found By Trial and Error” – 2:07
- “Hodge, Podge, Strained Through a Leslie” – 2:48
- “Resurrection” – 2:52
- “Reflections” (Kay, Gabriel Mekler) – :43
- John Kay – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
- Michael Monarch – Lead Guitar
- Goldy McJohn – Organ, Piano
- Rushton Moreve – Bass
- Jerry Edmonton – Drums, Vocals