Steppenwolf – The Second

Artist: Steppenwolf
Genre: Rock, Psychedelic rock
Title: The Second
Released: 1968
Label: Dunhill
Format: Vinyl
Musicians:John Kay – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica, Michael Monarch – lead guitar, Goldy McJohn – organ, piano, Rushton Moreve – bass, Jerry Edmonton – drums, backing vocals
Producer:Gabriel Mekler
Engineer: Bill Cooper & Richard Podolor

From wikipedia: Steppenwolf is a Canadian rock band that was prominent from 1968 to 1972. The group was formed in late 1967 in Toronto by lead singer John Kay, keyboardist Goldy McJohn, and drummer Jerry Edmonton (all formerly in Jack London & The Sparrows from Oshawa, Ontario). Guitarist Michael Monarch and bass guitarist Rushton Moreve were recruited by notices placed in Los Angeles-area record and musical instrument stores. Today, John Kay is the only original member, having served as the lead singer since 1967.

I’ve often wondered about a parody of this group. I’d change the name to “Stepped In Wolf” and would have song titles such as: “Bottom Of My Shoe”, “What’s That Smell”, “Can’t Get It Off”, “Watch Your Step”, etc. Ok, now that I’ve had my little joke, let’s get on with it.

The name change from The Sparrows (The Sparrow) to Steppenwolf was suggested to John Kay by Gabriel Mekler, being inspired by Hermann Hesse’s novel of the same name.

The Second is the second studio album by Canadian-American rock band Steppenwolf,featuring a style that incorporates psychedelic music and hard rock, released in October 1968 on ABC Dunhill Records. The album contains one of Steppenwolf’s most famous songs, “Magic Carpet Ride”. The background of the original ABC LP cover was a shiny “foil”, in contrast to later (MCA Records) LP issues and the modern CD sleeve. My copy is the foil one.

Side one
“Faster Than the Speed of Life” (Mars Bonfire) – This track is just awful in my opinion. Structure is sloppy and the vocals are horrid.
“Tighten Up Your Wig” – Effects were added to this track to simulate a house party or similar, but only made for poor sound. At least it is better than the first track in my opinion.
“None of Your Doing” (Kay, Gabriel Mekler) – Again, a poorly structured song in my opinion.
“Spiritual Fantasy” – This song sounds like it was supposed to be hip, but it is just a poor ballad. That said, the lyrics are well written in this song. It is about false spirituality and such.
“Don’t Step on the Grass, Sam” – Another sloppy and disturbing song in my opinion.

Side two
“28” (Mekler) – This track sounds very similar to the first track on side one.
“Magic Carpet Ride” (Kay, Rushton Moreve) – This is the only hit from this LP and happens to be the best song on the album in my opinion. The single version differs noticeably from the album version with a different vocal take by Kay used for the first verse of the song and differing instrumental balances, most notably the introduction feedback. The single version is also much shorter than the album version, with a running time of 2 minutes and 55 seconds. (The album version is 4 minutes and 25 seconds long.) From wikipedia:The lyrics “I like to dream, right between my sound machine” were inspired by a hi-fi home stereo system John Kay bought with royalties from his first album. *Editor’s note:How appropriate is that?!
“Disappointment Number (Unknown)” – While this song and the following are listed separately on the album jacket, this is actually a suite of songs. It starts out with birdsong and then adds steel blues guitar and blues style vocals, then about a minute or two in it jumps to more of a pop style.
“Lost and Found by Trial and Error”
“Hodge, Podge, Strained Through a Leslie”
“Reflections” (Kay, Mekler)

I had to give a low rating to the music on this LP. It just doesn’t grab and hold me at any point.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s