Steppenwolf lack heavy metal thunder on three albums of declining in potency

Steppenwolf box set the Epic Years 1974-1979 is a far cry from the band's million-selling golden era

Steppenwolf: The Epic Years 1974-1979 cover art
(Image: © Esoteric)

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Having broken up in 1972, burnt out following their lauded 1968-71 period during which they’d amassed multiple gold discs, earned millions by playing to millions and given the world one of its most enduring heavy rock anthems in Born To Be Wild, it
didn’t take too long for Steppenwolf to consider reconvening – especially once some serious money was lined up for a European tour. 

The live shows naturally led to the recording on 1974’s Slow Flux, 1975’s Hour Of The Wolf and 1976’s Skullduggery, an arc of albums gradually declining in potency.

Featuring John Kay (vocals/guitar), Jerry Edmonton (drums/vocals), George Biondo (bass/vocals), Goldy McJohn (keyboards/vocals) and super-proficient Bobby Cochrane (lead guitar/vocals), Slow Flux is the tightest in terms of quality, yielding Steppenwolf’s last Top-30 hit in the Edmonton-penned Straight Shootin’ Woman.

A couple of interesting but inconsequential bonus cuts – the B-side Angeldrawers and a mono promotional mix of Caroline (Are You Ready For the Outlaw World) – fill out Hour Of The Wolf. But Skullduggery’s combination of covers and originals smacks of contractual obligation. There are gems to be found here – such as Gang War Blues and Justice Don’t Be Slow – but it’s a far cry from the iconic era of heavy metal thunder.

Essi Berelian

Whether it’s magazines, books or online, Essi has been writing about rock ’n’ metal for around thirty years. He has been reviews editor for Classic Rock and Metal Hammer, rock reviews editor for lads mag Front and worked for Kerrang!. He has also written the Rough Guide to Heavy Metal and contributed to the Rough Guide to Rock and Rough Guide Book of Playlists, and the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles (13th edition). Most fun interview? Tenacious D – Jack Black and Kyle Gass – for The Pick of Destiny movie book. An avid record/CD/tape collector, he’s amassed more music than he could ever possibly listen to, which annoys his wife no end.