All Time Greatest Hits compilation of Steppenwolf tracks is a must have for any rock fan. There's a huge collection of Steppenwolf compilations and this is the only one I've tested, so I can't compare it to the others.
What I can say is the recordings are perfect and the choice of songs is wide and a good selection of hard rock songs that most certainly went on to influence Heavy Metal in a big way. The album was released in 1999 by MCA Records.
It starts off with Steppenwolf's most well known number and a song that just about everyone knows, in fact I'd even put money on Bin-Laden listening to it in his spare time. The song of course is "Born to Be Wild", one of the most powerful and well known songs in the world and not to mention the soundtrack to Easy Rider.
Of course with a career spanning many years and the band dabbling in all kinds of music from blues, hard rock and psychedelic stuff, often fusing it into one sound they have created many more wonderful tracks.
The next track is Magic Carpet Ride, another one of my faves and I was glad to see it on the album, a funky psychedelic track with immense keyboarding (organ maybe?).
Then over to Sookie, Sookie, a good track with good blues vocals and a funky guitar. It starts to get all Hendrixy at the end.
Don't Step on the Grass Sam is not a bad song but it doesn't appeal to me much, seemingly lacking in noisy psychedelic effects like the other tracks.
Next up is another track used in Easy Rider - The Pusher, this is probably my favourite Steppenwolf track and one I hold in higher regard than Born to be Wild, the studio version that is at least which has a unique feel to it, the riff at the beginning is great and the growly vocals of John Kay are superbly fitting to the lyrics like
"You know I smoked a lot of grass,
Oh Lord, And I popped a lot of pills
But I never did touch nothing
That my spirit couldn kill
You know I see a lot of people walkin' round
Here with tombstones in their eyes
'Cause the pusher don't care
Child if you live or if you die
God damn on the pusher, yea yea
I said God damn him
God damn him, pusher man"
Rock Me is the next track up and has a really raw feeling, a sort of rock version of early 60's pop if you like, loud electric guitars create a chaotic feeling only calmed down by an African rythm drum solo around 2 minutes in.
Next comes probably my 4th favourite track of Steppenwolf, the moving It's Never Too Late, with lyrics like
It's never too late to start all over again
To love the people you caused the pain
And help them learn your name
Oh, no, not too late
It's never too late to start all over again
You say you've only got one life to live
And when your dead your gone
Your family comes to your grave
And with tears in their eyes
They tell you, you did something wrong
"You left us alone"
Thoughtful stuff and a change from the more psychedelic sound.
Then comes Jupiter's Child, really twangy dirty blues guitar, hints of a House of the Rising Sun style organ completed with the powerful vocals of Kay, leave a lasting impression.
Hey Lawdy Mama follows this, and this another one with a gritty sound, some superb guitar playing and is bound to get the foot tapping and getting you to sing along to , actually hadnt heard this track before getting this album and it's a cracker!
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v62uSMBtvv4
Snowblind is another corker, an early Wolf track written by country singer-songwriter Hoyt Axton. Acoustic track, Kay's voice is a phenomenal cross between Elvis and Johnny Cash on this one!
Tenderness is another song in the country and western vein and is good at what it is supposed to do!
Ride with me is a very thoughtful track with philosophical lyrics whilst For Ladies Only is a very traditional rock track with very little to seperate it from other contemporary bands, at least it would seem like that from the first 2 minutes but it soon runs into a guitar solo, quality drumming prog rock frenzy that has classical and jazz segments to it and lasts over 7 minutes.
Who Needs Ya, is a true gem, an upbeat blues track with quality lyrics and a very catch chorus, not to mention some very talented piano (yes it's definitely not organ this time) playing!
Well, it's sunrise on the freeway as I get back from town
Find you standin' in my boots, kicking my dog around
Empty bottles on the floor
Enough to build a monument
Then you've got the nerve to tell me
Somebody took the rent
Who needs ya'? Think about it baby, who needs you?
Now you can save your lip, just pack your grip
And leave a trail of smoke behind you
Who needs ya'? Can you tell me baby, who needs you?
Screaming Night Hog has a crazy guitar riff at the beginning and a soulful organ style, complete with strong vocals interspersed with "wooh ooohs"
Monster is an upbeat bluesy prog rock track that has some superb guitar playing again and powerful lyrics. Has hints of The Doors about it.
So you see when compared to a track like The Pusher or Screaming Night Hog, Born to be Wild becomes little more than a tease! John Kay's singing is immense, Goldy McJohn is one of the best organ players ever and guitarist Michael Monarch has a destinct funkyness to it which can also be seen on some of his other work (he played on Janis Joplin's "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! album. These 3, perhaps more than the drummer and bassist who also did a fine job (both died in traffic accidents), create the band's very special sound, I think.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Born to Be Wild
2 Magic Carpet Ride
3 Sookie, Sookie
4 Don't Step on the Grass, Sam
6 Rock Me
7 It's Never Too Late
8 Jupiter's Child
9 Hey Lawdy Mama
10 Snowblind Friend
11 Move Over
13 Who Needs Ya?
14 Ride With Me
15 For Ladies Only
16 Screaming Night Hog
18 Straight Shootin' Woman