||From the Vault...
"At Your Birthday Party"
© MCA Records
Year of Release: 1969
Round And Down
It's Never Too Late
She'll Be Better
God Fearing Man
Steppenwolf related sites:
"At Your Birthday Party"
For many years, trying to find original albums on CDs by Steppenwolf have
been virtually impossible. Their 1969 release, At Your Birthday Party
does not contain any huge hits by John Kay and crew, (well, "Rock Me"
may be the most popular...) yet listening to any original release by this
classic biker band has always been enjoyable. However, this release may
not be as "rockin" as other releases, as I'll explain this at the end of
"Don't Cry" has a more British 1960s sound, where "Chicken Wolf"
has the more typical Steppenwolf style and sound. Different is best to describe
"Lovely Meter." It's a soft accoustic guitar ballad, and this style of
music is unheard of in Steppenwolf's music; as you hear this song, you wouldn't
think it was by Steppenwolf.
"Round And Round" is a mix of country (its intro guitar) and rock.
"It's Never Too Late" is laid back, yet you can easily tell that it is
a song by Steppenwolf, as you recognize lead singer John Kay's voice.
"Sleeping Dreaming" is "short, strange, psychedelic, and jibberish,"
as if we were actually sleeping and dreaming... "Jupiter Child" has the
classic Steppenwolf sound, as heard in many of their famous and non-famous
classic rock tunes.
"She'll Be Better" is another ballad, and like "Lovely Meter,"
it's the "I can't believe this is a Steppenwolf song..." due to the fact that
the vocals are handled otherwise by John Kay (???), and if it isn't, it sure
doesn't sound like him. Yet the music itself does resemble Steppenwolf in a
way, as this kind of song could of been easily recorded by future 1970s group
like Bad Company ("Shooting Star"), or even 80s-90s group The Black Crowes.
"Cat Killer" is an instrumental. It's a mix of 3-chord boogie-woogie
and jazz. Instrumentals such as these has been featured in other Steppenwolf
releases, as these instrumental gems are truly unique and
entertaining, as it takes a different approach to the "standard" music of
Steppenwolf. Which brings us to "Rock Me" -- which may be the only
recognizable popular tune from this album. It's classic Steppenwolf rock.
Another laid back tune (easy to recognize it's Steppenwolf, though) is
"God Fearing Man." It's a medium-tempo ballad, yet it's Steppenwolf.
Another instrumental is "Mango Juice," a low-volume mystery tune,
having some slight touches of psychedelia, and african rhythms. And "Happy
Birthday", the album's closure, is another mellow, laid back tune, and no,
it's not their rendition of the standard "Happy Birthday To You."
At Your Birthday Party may not as "rock" as other Steppenwolf
releases, yet it's Steppenwolf, and not to be negative, but it's easily seen
why this release is hard-to-find. This album is enjoyable, yet for the die-hard
rockin' Steppenwolf fan, there are less than a handful of tunes on this release
that can be compared to their classics, such as "Magic Carpet Ride," "Born
To Be Wild" and "Sookie Sookie" (to name a few). At Your Birthday
Party is more mellow, so to speak, and still, this album was a part of the
Steppenwolf repretoire -- for the curious Steppenwolf fan, learning their
history, and their original releases, we can easily see and hear that this
release would not be recognized as a "must have". Yet its always interesting
in hearing all of a group or artist's original albums, and in Steppenwolf's
case, there were far better albums than At Your Birthday Party, before
and after this album was released.
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