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John H. McCarthy
- Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: CD de audio
Geffen/Universal Japan have reissued the first eight classic STEPPENWOLF albums (STEPPENWOLF, THE SECOND, AT YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY, EARLY STEPPENWOLF, MONSTER, STEPPENWOLF LIVE, STEPPENWOLF 7 and FOR LADIES ONLY) with new remastering on SHM-CD's in Beautiful mini-LP sleeve reproductions. SHM-CD's (Super High-Quality Material CD) play in any CD drive. All the mini-LP's look fantastic and the discs sound wonderful, the best EVER! Seven have bonus tracks. My only complaint is there are no logos of their original label Dunhill/abc Records, to be found anywhere, and the CD's themselves are barren of those great Japanese original release label reproductions. This may be a copyright issue with original Dunhill owner Lou Adler and is a shame since the labels would've been a great crowning touch. Notes on the individual CD being reviewed follow:
'FOR LADIES ONLY,' STEPPENWOLF's 6th studio album and 8th overall, was released exactly a year after the previous 'STEPPENWOLF 7' in November 1971. Guitarist Larry Byrom had departed before recording began, replaced by Kent Henry from BLUES IMAGE. Henry had replaced guitarist Mike Pinera who left to join the reconstituted IRON BUTTERFLY during the recording of the second BLUES IMAGE album 'OPEN' which featured the extended version of their #4US hit single "Ride Captain Ride." On "Ride Captain Ride" Henry performed all guitar parts except the end solo which was played by the departing Pinera. Henry also played on their 3rd and final release 'RED WHITE AND BLUES IMAGE.' Although an accomplished musician, Henry suffers in comparison with his predecessor. Byrom was a perfect fit with STEPPENWOLF, his superior chops and songwriting ability are evident in comparison of the eras. Sometimes referred to as a "progressive rock" and "feminist concept" album, it was neither yet a little of both.....
Almost six minutes of the 9 minute plus title track are instrumental passages including a two minute piano solo by keyboardist Goldy McJohn. The songs introduction and some of the instrumental sections are reminiscent of John "Cougar" Mellencamp's "I Need A Lover." The lyrics have a feminist slant until near the end when singer John Kay states "...when my bedroom (door) closes, I'm callin' the plays." I guess he's all for feminine equality as long as he's "on top." An edited version reached #64US on the charts, and is included as a bonus track. The second track "I'm Asking," a rocker co-written and sung by drummer Jerry Edmonton rails against the still contemporary hypocrisy that children are allowed to watch violent movies and TV while sex education is repressed. It's sad to think that progress on these important issues has been so incremental after forty years. Things are too good to be true however, the last two numbers on original Side One make an abrupt left turn. Kay's "Shackles And Chains," is a strange take-me-back-I've-stopped-cheating lover's plea and the sorry-I-beat-you-now-I've-changed lyrics from the pen of the usually reliable Mars Bonfire in "Tenderness" come off as an abuser's lame apology to those he used and abused. The former's slightly funky backing and the latter's acoustic balladry are nothing memorable. Bonfire returns again with "The Night Time's For You," a paean to one of those devil-women who's got his soul, with a musical backing that sounds like someone threw "Magic Carpet Ride" in a blender. Jerry Edmonton returns to sing his ditty "Jaded Strumpet," a funky little misogynistic string of sexual euphemisms. By now it seems obvious that everyone agreed at the band meeting before recording to write "lady" themed songs. Bassist George Biondo gets his chance with "Sparkle Eyes" about a lady whose eyes aren't quite sparklin' anymore. If anyone thinks the heavy organ break resembles real progressive rock your flavour must be VANILLA FUDGE. The Henry/McJohn instrumental "Black Pit" follows, the expected pun will not. The final single of the "classic" STEPPENWOLF line-up, Mars Bonfire's "Ride With Me" was also featured on his solo album Faster Than Speed of Life as "Ride With Me, Baby." A fair little rocker that could of used some of Larry Byrom's spark, it actually reached #52US, 12 points higher than the superior "For Ladies Only." The original album ends with Biondo's short but sweet spiritual pastoral "In Hopes Of A Garden." The CD ends with the rare non-LP psychedelic instrumental "For Madmen Only," musical concrete a la STEPPENWOLF (pun intended), and the aforementioned single edit of "For Ladies Only."
I'd be in remiss without mentioning the album's art. The large stylized 'S' on the front cover instead of the usual wolf or skull themes gave further credence to those who felt the WOLF had gone prog-rock. The strange black and white group photo (showing their fear of vaginal dentata) is also included here, albeit in a smaller version. The colour photo inside the gate-fold sleeve of a custom-body "penis car" has to make one wonder if that what was meant by 'FOR LADIES ONLY' after all......
The last album made by the "classic" STEPPENWOLF line-up, 'FOR LADIES ONLY' was quite a fall from the excellent heights of 'STEPPENWOLF 7.' As I stated previously, the loss of Larry Byrom's talents seems to have disheartened the rest of the band, or they may have just been plum worn out after touring and recording for six straight years from their days as SPARROW. After the album's release, John Kay announced that the group would disband after going on a "farwell tour." Kay released two pretty excellent solo albums afterward, 'FORGOTTEN SONGS & UNSUNG HEROES' in 1972 and 'MY SPORTIN' LIFE' in 1973, whose title track is an excellent must-hear. Both are available together on one CD from BGO Records. In 1974 STEPPENWOLF reformed with the core lineup of Kay, Edmonton and McJohn, along with longtime bassist Biondo and newcomer Bobby Cochran on guitar, a nephew of rock & roll legend Eddie Cochran, but that's another story for another time, and another reviewer......