Artist – Steppenwolf
Album – The Second
Released – October 1968
Label – ABC Dunhill
Producer – Gabriel Mekler
Steppenwolf did not disappoint but excel on their sophomore album, The Second.
Most noted for their track ‘Born To Be Wild’ from their first album, Steppenwolf did not disappoint with their sophomore album. Harder blues and more psychedelia along with better songwriting brings more out of the ‘Wolf.
Starting with ‘Faster Than The Speed Of Life’ a song not exactly appealing but gets you in the mood and sets the tone for the rest of the album. The Harmonica comes out on ‘Tighten Up Your Wig’ and Kay brings out a nice bluesy solo to show off his skills on the mouth harp. ‘None Of Your Doing’ takes a different direction towards the psychedelic side which is very pleasing.
Things are slowed down on ‘Spiritual Fantasy’ which almost feels like an old time waltzing number, and is opposite to most of the tracks. It flows nicely into the next track ‘Don’t Step On The Grass, Sam’ a protest song about America’s crackdown on marijuana, which is an excellent display of songwriting and full of interesting guitar riffs.
The B side is where the ‘Wolf comes out to play. ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ one of their biggest hits, is a psychedelic hard rock dream, simple riff and great vocals combine to create this epic track.
The rest of the album is in a medley format with tracks flowing into one another. Starting off slow with ‘Disappoint Number (Unknown)’ the slide guitar inviting you in then bringing the band in later in the song. With lines like “Find me a Bar, Gonna spend my bread / Wake up next morning under the bed” it’s difficult not to sing along.
‘Lost and Found By Trial and Error’ is the next track which continues the jam and shows off the organ. Even though it goes places, it stays true to the blues serves as the basis for the next track ‘Hodge, Podge, Strained Through a Leslie.’ A repetitive instrumental piece, that changes only so often, builds up to the end of the medley.
‘Resurrection’ is the climatic finish to the medley and it does not fail. A track seemingly about a man infatuated with a girl tells us “Just one look and I’m her toy … I don’t know why / She makes me feel like a different guy.”
The Second is a great album, easy to listen to, easy to play along to and very catchy. A triumph for Steppenwolf to provide such a good sophomore album.
Today’s musicians can hopefully learn from Steppenwolf’s example that taking a somewhat different direction from your first album is to be encouraged.
- Faster Than The Speed Of Light
- Tighten Up Your Wig
- None Of Your Doing
- Spiritual Fantasy
- Don’t Step On The Grass, Sam
- Magic Carpet Ride
- Disappoint Number (Unknown)
- Lost and Found By Trial and Error
- Hodge, Podge, Strained Through a Leslie