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John Kay & Steppenwolf: Steppenwolf at 50

Canadian/American act Steppenwolf have been a mainstay of the classic rock scene since their inception back in 1967, and through the years and a myriad of line-up changes, one piece has always remained the same, and that's been founder, singer, guitarist, and songwriter John Kay. Though the bulk of their studio albums were released in the '60s & '70s, Kay has manned many fluctuating line-up that continued to pump out the occasional studio effort into the '80s and '90s, as well as a host of live albums and 'hits collections'. In fact, for a band that only really had a couple of radio staples over their career, 13 compilation albums have been officially released, and now, with their 50th Anniversary as a band, add another one in the form of Steppenwolf at 50, a 3CD set that covers their entire career and actually delivers plenty of rare nuggets to warrant the attention of any longtime fan.

Released on Rainman Records, Steppenwolf at 50 is an interesting collection of songs, as Kay decided to dig deep into some of the less popular Steppenwolf albums, as well as some of this early solo releases, rather than just load this collection up with staples from the bands first five albums. Sure, "Born to Be Wild", "Magic Carpet Ride", "Hey Lady Mama", "Rock Me", and "The Pusher" are all here, but at the back end of the third disc, and the versions are pretty hot live renditions recorded in the mid 1990s. The bulk of the first two discs here include some '70s/'80s rarities & deep album cuts from Slow Flux, Skullduggery, Hour of the Wolf (all very underrated hard rock records), Kay solo albums My Sportin' Life and Forgotten Songs & Unsung Heroes, as well as the '80s John Kay & Steppenwolf albums Wolftracks, Paradox, Rock & Roll Rebels, and Rise & Shine. Tunes like "For Ladies Only", "Skullduggery", "Caroline", "Screaming Night Hog", "Rock & Roll Rebels", "Give Me Life", and "Feed the Fire" hold up quite well today, and show off the bands hard rock side quite well but their melodic sense it always present. Even the few cover tunes are done well, like Argent's "Hold Your Head Up", "Hot Night in a Cold Town", and "Compared to What", the latter previously unreleased and a good one.

All of CD3 is taken up by basically the best of the Live at 25 release, which originally came out in 1995 on the K-Tel label, and it shows the band in fine form on their 1992 tour playing mostly the classics plus some strong album cuts from the early part of their career. Considering how strong these recordings are, it was a good call including these here rather than the original studio versions, which no doubt most fans probably already have in multiple formats. Honestly, the only real clunker in this collection is the inclusion of a rap version of "Magic Carpet Ride" performed by Grandmaster Flash and Fabulous Five in the late '80s...it just doesn't fit, other than as a historical reference showing how Steppenwolf's music carried over to other genres. Thankfully, there's a rip roaring take on this song over on the live material from the third disc.

Along with some great cover art, and plenty of track information & photos in the booklet, Steppenwolf at 50 is a very rewarding, expansive, varied, and ultimately satisfying look at the career of this rock 'n' roll institution. John Kay's gruff, yet accessible roar is always front & center, and he's another of those longstanding rock stars that is still going strong today. A tip of the hat to this fine band and all they have given us over the years.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!


Track Listing
Disk 1:
01. Screaming Night Hog
02. From Here To There Eventually (alternate version)*
03. Angel Drawers*
04. For Ladies Only
05. You Win Again
06. My Sportin' Life
07. Drift Away
08. Straight Shootin' Woman
09. Caroline (Are You Ready For The Outlaw World)
10. Skullduggery
11. Hold Your Head Up
12. Hot Night In A Cold Town
13. Give Me News I Can Use
14. Ain't Nothin' Like It Used To Be
15. Magic Carpet Ride (Performed With Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five)


Disk 2:
01. Hold On (Never Give Up Never Give In)
02. Rock & Roll Rebels
03. Give Me Life
04. Rise & Shine
05. The Wall
06. Rock & Roll War
07. Feed The Fire
08. Rock Steady
09. Down In New Orleans
10. Business Is Business
11. Compared To What*
12. Labor Of Love*
13. For The Women In My Life


Disk 3 (All Tracks Recorded Live: 1992-1995):
01. Move Over
02. Rock Me
03. I'm Movin' On
04. Sookie Sookie
05. I'm Your Hootchie Cootchie Man
06. Hey Lawdy Mama
07. Desperation
08. Ride With Me
09. Snowblind Friend
10. Monster/Suicide/America
11. Magic Carpet Ride
12. Born To Be Wild
13. The Pusher


* indicates previously unreleased

Added: March 19th 2018
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1937
Language: english

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