Steppenwolf “The Epic Years 1974-1976” 3CD Box Set To Be Released January 27, 2023
STEPPENWOLF’s 3 albums following the band’s break-up and reformation in the mid 70s is a nice follow up to last years Magic Carpet Ride 8-CD box set, which covered the band’s highly successful era from 1967-71. The 3 albums included here would be the last Steppenwolf band albums, as they’d break-up again, and John Kay would form a new band into the ’80s as ‘John Kay & Steppenwolf’. This era would include a couple of different keyboard players, as well as ex-Kindred guitarist Bobby Cochran – nephew of Eddie Cochrane.
Slow Flux came out in 1974, and featured the band’s last Top 40 hit – “Straight Shootin’ Woman”, as well as the singles “Get Into The Wind” and “Smokey Factory Blues”. Slow Flux was a solid album, which included such other memorable tracks as “Gang War Blues”, “Children Of Night, and “A Fool’s Fantasy”. Following this album keyboardist Goldy McJohn was replaced with Andy Chapin.
Hour Of The Wolf was released in ’75, and featured the single “Caroline (Are You Ready For The Outlaw World)”, which was penned by Mars Bonfire (who’d previously written “Born To Be Wild”). This album didn’t fare well at the time , but I think it’s another good album with cuts like “Two For The Love Of One”, “Mr Penny Pincher”, and the lighter “Just For Tonight”. After this album Chapin left the band and went on to join Ricky Nelson’s band, where he met his end in the band’s plane crash on New Year’s Eve of 1985. This disc adds 2 bonus tracks, notably the B-side “Angeldrawers”.
Steppenwolf would record one further album – 1976’s Skullduggery. I really liked this one. It featured keyboard player Wayne Cook (ex Goodthunder). This album would something of a contractual obligation record, with there being no single from it or a promotional tour, so I can’t imagine it did very well back then. Nevertheless, it features some fine tunes, notably the title track to kick things off, written by Cochran as well as a cover of the Junior Walker hit “(I’m A) Roadrunner”, (penned by Motown’s Holland-Dozier-Holand), “Train Of Thought” (penned by American songwriter Alan O’Day), and the funky instrumental “Lip Service”. Wayne Cook would go on to work with the LA Jets, join Player, and tour with Alice Cooper (he can be found on Live At The Apollo Theatre, Glasgow 1982), among other things. Kay would record a solo album – All In Good Time, in 1978.
An interesting, final chapter in Steppenwolf’s ’70s recordings. These albums may not have featured hits as their previous albums had, but there is certainly is plenty of fine songs that make each of these albums enjoyable. Wish there were a few more rarities or outtakes from this period to include, but oh well – a fine trio of ’70s rock albums.
*Check out the press release , track listings, and pre-order link below.
• NEW 3CD CLAMSHELL BOXED SET FEATURING ALL THE RECORDINGS ISSUED BY STEPPENWOLF FOR THE EPIC LABEL BETWEEN 1974 AND 1976.
• FEATURING THEIR THREE ALBUMS PLUS TWO ADDITIONAL BONUS TRACKS. WITH AN ILLUSTRATED BOOKLET FEATURING AN ESSAY AND INTERVIEWS
Steppenwolf was formed in 1967 in LA by John Kay (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Goldy McJohn (organ, piano) and Jerry Edmonton (drums) who were previously members of the Canadian band The Sparrows. They were joined by Michael Monarch (lead guitar) and Rushton Moreve (bass). The band signed to Dunhill / ABC Records and were propelled to success in 1968 with their classic single “Born To Be Wild” which became even wider known when the track was featured to great effect in the classic 1969 counterculture film Easy Rider.
Over the next four years the band released eight albums and enjoyed huge success. In February 1972 Steppenwolf disbanded, with John Kay recording a solo album, but by ’74 they had emerged once again and over the next three years they would record three further albums for Epic.
Following on from “Magic Carpet Ride,” Esoteric’s acclaimed boxed set of the first era of Steppenwolf’s career, “The Epic Years 1974-1976” gathers together all of these albums, along with two rare bonus tracks. The set also includes an illustrated booklet with a new essay by Steppenwolf aficionado Jim Christopulos.
DISC ONE – Slow Flux
1 Gang War Blues
2 Children of Night
3 Justice Don’t Be Slow
4 Get into the Wind
6 Straight Shootin’ Woman
7 Smokey Factory Blues
8 Morning Blue
9 A Fool’s Fantasy
10 Fishin’ in the Dark
DISC TWO – Hour Of The Wolf
1 Caroline (Are You Ready for the Outlaw World)
2 Annie, Annie Over
3 Two for the Love of One
4 Just for Tonight
5 Hard Rock Road
6 Someone Told a Lie
7 Another’s Lifetime
8 Mr. Penny Pincher Bonus tracks
9 Angeldrawers (B-side of single)
10 Caroline (Are You Ready for the Outlaw World) (Mono promotional single mix)
DISC THREE – Skullduggery
2 (I’m a) Road Runner
3 Rock n’ Roll Song
4 Train of Thought
5 Life is a Gamble
6 Pass it On
8 Lip Service