Posts Tagged ‘Steppenwolf’

‘At Manager, No. 14 . . .’

June 3, 2022

Originally posted November 6, 2009

Despite my love of sports, I’ve never been an athlete. But thirty-nine years ago today, I wore a jersey as a member of a team for the only time in my life.

It was the last week of the football season at St. Cloud Tech. I was a manager, and I think we were all glad the season was coming to a close. It hadn’t been a good year: We were 2-6 heading into our final game. That was quite a come-down from 1969, when we were 6-3 and ended up ranked No. 9 in the state. (A three-loss team in the Top Ten? That was because we played a tough independent schedule, and our losses were to the top three teams in the state.)

There was a good reason that we’d not had a good season, though. That fall, St. Cloud had opened its second high school, Apollo High School, over on the north side. And when the kids from the north side went off to become the Eagles, about half of the underclassmen from the previous year’s team were among them. There was no way we were going to be as good as we had been or as good as we could have been, had we stayed one school. Things were no better across town at Apollo; the Eagles were 2-5 as the end of the season approached.

The Eagles’ difficulties, though, weren’t our concern. As the season had progressed, we’d kept up with our former teammates and their performances, and I assume that they kept an eye on how we were doing. We weren’t happy with their poor season, but we were pleased that they were doing no better than we were. And during that final week, we cared not one bit about their difficulties because our final game was against those same Eagles. It would be the first football game ever between St. Cloud’s two public high schools.

(One of the oddities of the split between the two high schools was where the boundary line between the two schools was drawn. On the East Side, the line was drawn at the north end of Kilian Boulevard, a block away from our house. It happened to fall right in the middle of the attendance area for Lincoln Elementary, and that meant that a number of kids I’d been in school with since first grade went to Apollo. Had the line been drawn only a little further south, I’d have gone to Apollo; I was relieved to stay at Tech.)

One of the long-standing traditions at Tech was that, on the day of a game or a meet, varsity athletes wore dress shirts, ties and sport coats to school. As a manager of the football team for two years and the wrestling team for three years, I did the same. But as our final week of practice came to a close and we gathered for a meeting Thursday afternoon, the captains had a question for the coaches: Since it’s our last game, and the first ever against Apollo, can we wear our jerseys during the school day on Friday instead of coats and ties?

The coaches looked at each other and thought for a second, then nodded. We left the meeting room, and as we headed for the locker room, I wondered how out of place I was going to look in school the next day. I didn’t have a jersey.

I pondered that as I went over our supplies in the training room, making sure everything was packed into the kits we’d haul to Clark Field, a block away, the next evening:  Bandages, various sprays, a couple of cleat cleaners and cleat wrenches, lots of tape and all the other things that we managers were responsible for. Well, I thought, as I packed the tape, I’ll just wear a coat and tie.

As I finished packing and was about to head out of the training room, certain that Dad was already waiting in the parking lot, one of the other seniors on the team, Scott, poked his head into the room. “So what are you gonna wear tomorrow?”

I shrugged. “A coat and tie, I guess.”

He shook his head. “C’mon,” he said, motioning with his hand as he walked through the locker room. I followed him to the equipment room, where Scott addressed the equipment manager, Mr. Kerr. “We need a jersey here,” Scott told him. “What can you do?”

Mr. Kerr pulled a jersey from the shelf and tossed it to me. Number 14. I pulled it on. I was of slight build, and the jersey was cut for shoulder pads, of course, so it hung on me like a large orange, black and white curtain. But it was, right then, my jersey. “There you go,” Scott said, as we walked back toward the training room.

I wore the jersey to school the next day, of course, and on the sidelines during the game that Friday evening. We beat Apollo fairly handily (a score of 26-14 pops into my memory, but I’m not certain) and crowded back into our locker room, happy to have ended the season with a victory. The next Monday, I handed the jersey to Mr. Kerr. I learned later that many of my fellow seniors had neglected to return their jerseys, eventually paying something like $25 for their “lost” jerseys. I wish I’d done the same.

A Six-Pack From Late Autumn 1970
“Let’s Work Together” by Canned Heat from Future Blues
“When You Get Right Down To It” by the Delfonics, Philly Groove 163
“Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay The Way)” by Iron Butterfly from Metamorphosis
“Games” by Redeye from Redeye
“Too Many People” by Cold Blood from Sisyphus
“Who Needs Ya” by Steppenwolf from Seven

Bonus Track
“St. Cloud Tech School Song” by the Tech High School Band

During the week that we kicked off the Tech-Apollo football rivalry, six of the titles above were listed in the Billboard Hot 100. (See the note below regarding singles vs. album tracks.) There was one nice slice of Philly soul, one light rocker with some nice vocal harmony (Redeye’s “Games”) and four bits of fairly tough bluesy rock. I recall hearing “Let’s Work Together” once or twice and being intrigued, but I doubt that I heard the other five. Why not?

Well, only two of these six titles made it into the Top 40, which was guiding my listening: “Let’s Work Together” went to No. 26, and “Games” reached No. 27. During the week in question, the one that ended Saturday, November 7, 1970, these titles were strewn mostly in the lower levels of the Hot 100:

“Let’s Work Together” was already in the Top 40, sitting at No. 33. The Delfonics tune was at No. 56 after peaking at No. 53 two weeks earlier. Iron Butterfly’s “Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay The Way)” would peak at No. 66 two weeks later. (I never paid much attention to Iron Butterfly after buying and quickly selling the group’s live album way back when, but I have to note that “Easy Rider” is a better and more interesting record than I expected it to be; it had been languishing, ignored, in my files with the rest of the Metamorphosis album for a while.) Redeye’s “Games,” on its way to its peak of No. 27, was in the Hot 100 for the first time and was sitting at No. 90.

Cold Blood’s “Too Many People” was in the “Bubbling Under the Top 100” section and had moved up one slot from No. 108 to No. 107. It would be gone when the next chart came out a week later. And Steppenwolf’s “Who Needs Ya” – a typical but fun Steppenwolf boogiefest – was in its first week in the “Bubbling Under” section, sitting at No. 119.  It would peak at No. 54 five weeks later.

As I was planning this post – I do plan sometimes – I called Gary Zwack, the current band director at St. Cloud Tech, and asked about a copy of the school song. He emailed it to me, and as I heard the song for the first time in what must be thirty-five years, I remembered all the words:

March straight on, Old Tech High
To fame and honor great.
The glory of our colors
We’ll never let abate.
We’re with you!
March straight on, Old Tech High!
Be loyal to her name.
Fight gallantly for dear old Tech
And all her worthy fame.

Gary added a note, telling me that the music for the song was written in 1931 by Erwin Hertz, who was Tech’s band director at the time. I wrote back, telling Gary that in 1964, I took my first lessons on cornet from Erwin Hertz, who was very close to retiring. Thanks for the help, Gary.

Note:
In five of the six cases, I’ve tagged the mp3s as coming from the various albums, as I’m uncertain whether the mp3 offered here is the single version. The only one I am sure of is the Delfonics’ tune.

I am nearly certain that the single that Cold Blood released was edited significantly, as the running times – 4:05 on the album version I have and 2:52 on photos I’ve seen of the single (San Francisco 62) – are so far apart. Redeye’s “Games” is not (as I erroneously reported originally) the same length on the single (Pentagram 204) as it is on the album, and Iron Butterfly’s 45 (Atco 6782) is timed at 3:05 while the mp3 runs 3:06, so I think those were the same, but I’m not sure.

As to the Steppenwolf and Canned Heat tracks: The running times I’ve seen on photos of those singles – Dunhill 4261 and Liberty 56151, respectively – are relatively close to those of these album tracks. That leaves me wondering if the singles and the album tracks were the same but the times were listed differently, as was often the case. But I don’t know.

That First Top 40 Season

May 27, 2022

Originally reported September 23, 2009

Often, when I immerse myself in my reference books or lists, I ponder two categories of Top 40 music: Records that I don’t recall ever hearing at all and records that don’t show up these days on oldies radio.

Regular readers know the tale: I was, at best, a passive listener to Top 40 for years. If I were around Rick, I heard what he heard. If my sister had friends over, I heard – from another room – what they heard. During my junior high years, I heard the records played at dances and in the gym during the second half of lunch hours. It was during the fall of 1969 that I became an active listener to Top 40, hoping to join in on locker room gab about music and not seem utterly clueless.

So it was about this time forty years ago that I re-tuned my radio, moving the little red line over to the left, to 630, the frequency of KDWB in the Twin Cities, one of two Top 40 stations available to St. Cloud listeners in the daytime. (Evening brought Top 40 to WJON, just down the street and across the tracks from our house, and I was a regular evening listener for years.)

So what was it I heard during those first days? The Billboard Top Ten from forty years ago this week looked like this:

“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies
“Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones
“Easy to Be Hard” by Three Dog Night
“Little Woman” by Bobby Sherman
“I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations
“Jean” by Oliver
“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” by Tom Jones
“Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly & the Family Stone
“Oh, What A Night” by the Dells

Some of that is pretty good, some of it a little gooey, but overall, pretty good. To be honest, a couple of those are records I don’t think I ever heard back then. If I heard them, it didn’t happen frequently enough for them to make an impression. I know the Dells’ single, but that’s from digging into pop and rock history over the last twenty years, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Tom Jones’ version of “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”

The Billboard chart is a national chart, however, and what we were listening to in Minnesota might have been a fair amount different (as was frequently the case across the country; local playlists often differed a fair amount). I wasn’t able to find a KDWB chart from this week forty years ago, but the Airheads Radio Survey Archive offered one from WDGY, the other Top 40 station in the Twin Cities. I didn’t listen to WDGY, memory tells me, because its signal was not as strong and it didn’t come in well in St. Cloud. I imagine there are a few differences here from what KDWB was playing, but I don’t think they’d be major. (Someone can correct me if I’m wrong.) Here’s WDGY’s Top Ten for September 26, 1969:

“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies
“Little Woman” by Bobby Sherman
“Easy to Be Hard” by Three Dog Night
“Jean” by Oliver
“Everybody’s Talkin’” by Nilsson
“Hurt So Bad” by the Lettermen
“Lay Lady Lay’ by Bob Dylan
“Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“This Girl Is A Woman Now” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap
“Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly & the Family Stone

Every one of those comes out of the speakers of my memory. But as I look further down the WDGY chart, which goes to No. 30, there are five records I do not recall hearing. The Tom Jones tune is joined by four others: “When I Die” by Motherlode, “And That Reminds Me” by the Four Seasons, “No One For Me To Turn To” by Spiral Starecase and “You, I” by the Rugbys.

In the Top 30 of the Billboard list, I find five unheard records as well: The Dells’ record and the Tom Jones single along with “What’s The Use of Breaking Up” by Jerry Butler, “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am” by Bill Deal & the Rhondells and the Rugbys single.

Some of those – most notably the singles by Spiral Starecase and the Rugbys – remain mysteries today. But one can’t hear everything. And that brings me to my second list: Songs that one doesn’t seem to hear even on oldies radio these days. (And when I talk about radio, I’m talking about earthbound stuff, not satellite and so on. I get the sense from what I’ve read and from folks who listen to satellite radio that playlists are immensely deeper and specialized.)

I have to admit I don’t listen to radio much these days. My radio time is usually in the car when I’m out running errands, although I occasionally have it on when I’m puttering in the kitchen. And when the radio is on, I imagine that about two-thirds the time, it’s tuned to KQQL-FM, an oldies station in the Twin Cities. In any case, as I looked at the Billboard chart from forty years ago this week, I saw many titles that I don’t recall hearing on the radio for a long, long time, if ever. Here are six of them.

A Six-Pack of Radio Rarities (Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending September 27, 1969)
“Little Woman” by Bobby Sherman, Metromedia 121 (No. 5)
“A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash, Columbia 44944 (No. 11)
“Your Good Thing (Is About To End)” by Lou Rawls, Capitol 2550 (No. 18)
“When I Die” by Motherlode, Buddah 131 (No. 21)
“Move Over” by Steppenwolf, Dunhill 4205 (No. 31)
“Did You See Her Eyes” by the Illusion, Steed 718 (No. 36)

Including a record here isn’t necessarily a recommendation. The best example of that is the Bobby Sherman record. It’s pretty limp pop, but it did get all the way to No. 3, according to the Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. That was the best that Bobby Sherman ever did on the chart, although he had six more Top 40 singles through May of 1971. I guess if I were to choose a Bobby Sherman hit for a deep spot on a radio playlist, I’d be tempted to go with “Julie, Do Ya Love Me,” which actually isn’t all that great a record either. In the context of an oldie station, though, neither one would sound awful coming out of the speakers every once in a while.

“A Boy Named Sue” was pulled from the live 1969 album Johnny Cash recorded at San Quentin prison in California. It’s humorous, and you can hear Cash almost laughing as he sings Shel Silverstein’s work. There might have been versions out at the time that didn’t bleep out the epithet – which I think was “son-of-a-bitch” – at the song’s climax, but I’m not sure. Sometime very soon, I’m going to get the expanded CD release, which contains the entire concert Cash and his band put on for the inmates of San Quentin, and I expect the bleep will be gone. The single was Cash’s twelfth Top 40 hit and spent three weeks at No. 2, being blocked from the top spot by the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women.”

It seems like there’s a rule for many artists – those who had relatively few Top 40 hits – that one record stands in for all. When you hear Lou Rawls on the oldies stations today, the record is almost sure to be “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” which went to No. 2 in 1976. There’s no doubt that’s a great record (and Rawls’ biggest hit), but why not stretch a little? Play “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” (No. 13, 1966) or the one I offer here, “Your Good Thing (Is About To End),” which peaked at No. 18 forty years ago this week.

I’m not sure what the formal definition is for identifying a One-Hit Wonder. Actually, I’m not sure there is a formal definition. Mine is: one Top 40 hit. Lots of groups that are called One-Hit Wonders very often aren’t, as they have one memorable record and something else that edged its way to No. 37 or some similar spot. One example of that is Lighthouse, which had the superb hit “One Fine Morning” go to No. 24 in 1971 but also reached the Top 40 with “Sunny Days,” which peaked at No. 34 in 1972. Motherlode, on the other hand, is a pure One-Hit Wonder. The Canadian quartet had one hit and one hit only: “When I Die,” which is pretty good, peaked at No. 18.

Steppenwolf seems to fall into the Lou Rawls Rule: The group had seven Top 40 hits between 1968 and 1974, but only two of them – “Born To Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” – ever seem to show up on the radio. And that’s too bad. “Rock Me” and “Hey Lawdy Mama” would liven up the day considerably if they ever came out of the speakers. As would “Move Over,” which was the fourth of the group’s seven hits. It peaked at No. 31.

The Illusion is another pure One-Hit Wonder, as “Did You See Her Eyes” was the group’s only trip into the Top 40. Released on Jeff Barry’s Steed label, the record is a good piece of pop-rock – tougher than most – and would be a nice change of pace on radio. The record peaked at No. 32. (My thanks to the Acid Test DJs for the clean rip.)

Chart Digging: March 22, 1975

March 22, 2017

Here’s the Top Ten from the Billboard Hot 100 forty-two years ago today, March 22, 1975:

“My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli
“Lady Marmalade (Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi)” by LaBelle
“Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton
“Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers
“Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton-John
“Express” by B.T. Express
“You Are So Beautiful/It’s A Sin When You Love Somebody” by Joe Cocker
“Poetry Man” by Phoebe Snow
“No No Song/Snookeroo” by Ringo Starr
“Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” by Sugarloaf/Jerry Corbetta

Almost all of those were coming out of the jukebox in the Atwood Center snack bar at St. Cloud State around that time. I don’t recall ever hearing either of the listed B-sides, nor – having listened to it this morning – do I recall ever hearing “Express.” But the rest of those records were a good portion of the soundtrack of my life as 1975 – one of the best years of my youth – approached its second quarter.

Sometime during the six weeks just past, one of my friends at The Table had given me some hard-to-hear but essential advice. He said I had to quit obsessing about the accident I’d been in at the end of October 1974. He was right, so I quit skipping my classes, I quit skipping my work shifts at the library’s periodicals counter, and I got to work on finishing three courses from fall quarter in which I’d taken incomplete grades.

In other words, I got busy being a student, and it was good for me. And most of the music listed above and plenty more from the rest of the chart came along with me as we headed into spring quarter.

Still, as always, there was music out there that never got to my ears, usually because it stayed for a brief time in the lower level of the Hot 100. Here are four records that caught my eye and my ear this morning:

“You’re A Part Of Me” by Susan Jacks was sitting at No. 90. The single, from the female voice of the Poppy Family (with then-husband Terry Jacks), was okay, based on some listening at YouTube. I never thought her voice was big enough to carry a career, though I likely would not have put it in those terms back when the Poppy Family stuff was coming out of the speakers. “You’re A Part Of Me” was intended for an album titled Dreams, but the folks at Russ & Gary’s “The Best Years of Music” say in a 2013 post that the album “was kept from market by Ray Pettinger, her husband’s former business associate at Goldfish Records.” I’m not sure about that: Discogs lists the LP as having been released in Canada. Either way, the album is available at YouTube, and – based on admittedly brief listening this morning – it sounds like the work of a limited singer trying to figure out which Seventies niche to land in. “You’re A Part Of Me” went no higher than No. 90 during its five weeks in the Hot 100.

Sitting at the very bottom of the Hot 100 forty-two years ago today was “Where Have They Gone” by Jimmy Beaumont & The Skyliners. Billed simply as simply the Skyliners, the group had offered the classic “Since I Don’t Have You” in 1959. And although the group had released a cluster of records that had gotten some airplay in the early 1960s – the best-performing being 1960’s “Pennies From Heaven,” which went to No. 24 – there’d been nothing in the charts since 1965. Even in the context of the big tent that Top 40 was in 1975, the string-laden “Where Have They Gone” sounds like a record out of its time, which I kind of like. I was intrigued to see that it had been written by Doc Pomus and Ken Hirsh, and it turns out there’s an interesting note at Wikipedia, where Pomus categorizes the songs he wrote in the 1970s – with Hirsh and others – as being for “those people stumbling around in the night out there, uncertain or not always so certain of exactly where they fit in and where they were headed.” Not to be cruel, but I suppose that could fit Beaumont and the Skyliners after ten years with no records in the charts. And “Where Have They Gone” was itself gone after this one week in the Hot 100.

Heading into the Bubbling Under portion of the Billboard chart, I ran across a group name that I found irresistible: Ecstasy, Passion & Pain. Tagged as an R&B/dance group by Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, the group had seen three records in or near the Hot 100 since early 1974, with the best-performing of them being “Ask Me,” which went to No. 52 in November 1974. Their next try was “One Beautiful Day,” which was bubbling under at No. 103 in that chart from forty-two years ago today. To my ears, there’s nothing there that maybe twenty other groups weren’t doing more compellingly at the time. “One Beautiful Day” would eventually peak at No. 48 (No. 14 on the Billboard R&B chart) and would be the biggest mark Ecstasy, Passion & Pain ever made on the charts.

Maybe the biggest surprise this morning was finding a record from Steppenwolf parked at No. 110, the very bottom of the Bubbling Under section. For me, John Kay’s group occupies the last few years of the 1960s, the years of “Born To Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride.” I somehow tend to forget that more than half of Steppenwolf’s charting records came in the 1970s. None of them flew as high as the two singles just mentioned, but the ’Wolf put six records into the middle to lower portions of the Hot 100 in 1970 and 1971. After an absence of three years came “Straight Shootin’ Woman,” which went to No. 29 in 1974, followed in 1975 by “Smokey Factory Blues,” which was sitting at No. 110 forty-two years ago today. It doesn’t really sound like Steppenwolf until about ninety seconds in, but then the chorus takes off, and when one listens to the story Kay and the rest of the band are telling, it’s a fitting coda to the band’s story: “Smokey Factory Blues” is what happens when you quit running and riding and living wild.

A Baker’s Dozen from 1968

April 18, 2011

Originally posted March 21, 2007

While I was puttering around last evening, visiting blogs and boards and seeing what music some of my on-line friends had decided to share, I was pondering what type of Baker’s Dozen I would post today.

I’ve had it in my head for a while to post a collection of the 13 love songs/love laments that touch me the most deeply, with some of them, honestly, moving me to tears in almost any context. But that would be a remarkable concentration of firepower in one place, pretty much a case of overkill. And I do like doing something random with the Baker’s Dozen.

So I thought I would combine the two ideas, in a way. I’d take one of the songs from that list of love songs and use it as the starting point for a random Baker’s Dozen from the year of its release. Let’s start with some songs from 1968.

We’ll open the list with the Vogues and “Turn Around, Look At Me,” which reached No. 7 that summer. Now, about half of the songs on the list of love songs aren’t related in my mind with any one person; they’re just songs that moved me. The rest are indelibly linked with various girls and women who were important to me along the way. And “Turn Around, Look At Me” will always bring memories to mind of a certain long-ago young lady. I’m sure she never knew.

“Turn Around, Look at Me” by the Vogues, Reprise 686 .

“Goodnight Nelba Grebe, The Telephone Company Has Cut Us Off” by Mother Earth from Living With The
Animals
.

“Unlock My Door” by Fever Tree from Fever Tree.

“This Wheel’s On Fire” by The Band from Music From Big Pink.

“I’ve Lost My Baby” by Fleetwood Mac from Mr. Wonderful.

“Me And My Uncle” by Dino Valente from Dino Valente.

“Memphis Train” by Rufus Thomas, Stax single 250.

‘The Christian Life” by the Byrds from Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

“Brother Where Are You?” by Johnny Rivers from Realization.

“Over You” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Columbia single 44644.

“Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, Dunhill single 4138.

“Jump Sturdy” by Dr. John from Gris-Gris.

“Flower Town” by Rose Garden from The Rose Garden.

Saturday Single No. 4

April 17, 2011

Originally posted March 3, 2007

In the absence of some deeper theme today, I thought I’d put forward a Saturday Single that relates somehow to our recent happenings: snow.

Turns out that songs about snow aren’t all that common, if one accepts that the 17,000 mp3s in my collection are a good cross-section of the musical universe. Rain, now, that’s a different story. A search through the collection brings up at least 200 songs with the word “rain” in their title, and perhaps another fifty or so more with the word “rain” in the album title I can’t be more specific because RealPlayer’s search engine brought up anything with the cluster of letters “rain,” including every song with “train” in its title and everything from George Harrison’s Brainwashed album. So I scrolled through the 442 results from “rain” and guessed.

Let’s say my guess is off by a hundred and that there are only 100 songs about rain in the collection. Well, that’s still a far cry from the fourteen songs I found with “snow” in their title or album title. (I had to eliminate, of course, the songs the search engine found performed by Phoebe Snow.) And that ratio of at least 100 songs to fourteen seems about right, I think. Rain is a far more evocative subject for a song, and far more universal. Snow isn’t nearly as romantic or as widely experienced.

And it turns out that one of the better songs about snow wasn’t about snow at all, or at least not the type of snow that falls from the sky. It’s Steppenwolf’s 1970 release, “Snowblind Friend,” a message song about the perils of cocaine. It was written by Hoyt Axton, an incredibly prolific composer – the earlier Steppenwolf anthem “The Pusher” and Three Dog Night’s hits “Joy to the World” and “Never Been To Spain” are just three of the hits credited to his pen – and occasional performer.

As preachy as he might have been, Axton was right. And although lead singer John Kay’s delivery remains a bit overblown – as it was to good effect on many of Steppenwolf’s recordings – the song remains a nice period piece. Released as a single on ABC-Dunhill, the song failed to make the Top 40, which might mean that Steppenwolf’s preaching was something its audience didn’t want to hear, or it might simply have meant that Steppenwolf’s time was ending.

I tend to think it was a combination of the two: The group had reached the Top 40 six times previously, starting with 1968’s “Born To Be Wild.” There would be one more Top 40 single, “Straight Shootin’ Woman,” a 1974 single I don’t think I’ve ever heard. Seven hit singles and seven albums is a pretty good run for a group in those days. And as All-Music Guide notes, an anthem about the toll of cocaine was not likely to boost the sales of Steppenwolf 7 in 1970, which was certainly a time when the costs of personal behaviors weren’t always taken seriously.

I would guess that the subject matter of “Snowblind Friend” simply made it easier for listeners to begin to ignore Steppenwolf. There would be one more album for ABC-Dunhill (1971’s For Ladies Only), but Steppenwolf’s moment was ending at about the time “Snowblind Friend” was released.

Of course, as I said earlier, Steppenwolf and writer Axton were right about the toll of cocaine (and, by extension, other recreational pharmaceuticals). And, of course, the snow flurries of 1970 turned into a blizzard of recreational use by the late 1970s, with the advent of disco and clubbing and the “lines on the mirror,” as Don Henley sang. Perhaps Steppenwolf’s problem wasn’t that the song was too preachy. Maybe it was just too early.

“Snowblind Friend”  by Steppenwolf [From Seven; single was Dunhill/ABC 4269, 1970]

From Deep In The Fog

August 3, 2010

There’s a fog warning out this morning, but I didn’t need the radio newsguys to tell me that: The internal fog is as bothersome as the fog in the air. So this week’s installment of the Ultimate Jukebox will be along tomorrow – I hope – instead of today. In the meantime, here’s “Foggy Mental Breakdown” from Steppenwolf’s 1970 album, Seven. (I’m not in nearly as bad a place as the song’s narrator, but the title worked, and that’s good enough for me this morning.)

See you tomorrow!