With “Monster” came a fresh burst of energy with the addition of Larry Byrom (who replaced Michael Monarch on lead guitar) and his “let’s get to it” attitude. In my opinion the monster album was a stronger effort than anything since the second album. However, time was once again our enemy which made it necessary that we recorded this project in an unusual fashion. The guys came up with one track after another while I was trying to keep up with my vocal parts and lyrics. Since this was supposed to be a concept album, I had to write within certain guidelines so that the lyrics fit within the concept. During the recording of this album and “7”, which was to follow, I spent most of my time at my studio sometimes until 3 or 4 in the morning, working on the melodies and lyrics. I would join the guys at American Recorders where they continued to come up with new tracks, whenever I was ready to overdub my finished vocal parts on one of the previously recorded basic tracks. On “From Here To There Eventually” and “Power Play” I also played guitar on the basic tracks. The somewhat unusual method of recording notwithstanding I was nevertheless excited each time the guys brought me a newly recorded instrumental track, since Larry and the guys came up with one great musical idea after another. Consequently, we were all pleased with the results.
After the “Monster” album, The Wolf needed a breather from the constant studio recording activities. It was therefore decided that a live album was exactly what we needed. We recorded one of our concerts at the Santa Monica civic auditorium which was a benefit for the “Students Against The War In Cambodia Committee”. The resulting recordings had more material that would fit on one album but not enough to fill 2 disks. Consequently we recorded additional songs such as “Hey Lawdy Mama” “Corina Corina” and “Twisted” in the studio where we then (through the addition of canned applause) tried to integrate these extra cuts into the truly live tracks. While with hindsight, I wish we would have had the chance to record multiple concerts because then we would not have had to live or die with the results of only one performance, this album, nevertheless was very successful and still quite popular with many fans today.
This album benefited greatly from Larry Byrom’s creative surge and contributions from George Biondo (who replaced Nick St. Nicholas on Bass). Larry and George had worked together in the group ‘T.I.M.E.” and were not only fine players but also excellent singers. We put their vocal talents to good use on the songs “Foggy Mental Breakdown”, “Who Needs Ya” and “Fat Jack” on which George also sang co-lead or solo. Those tracks as well as “Renegade” and “Hippo Stomp” were some of my favorites and featured some of Larry’s finest playing along with Jerry Edmonton’s imaginative arrangement ideas. I found that these tracks stimulated my lyric/melody writing and I was quite pleased with our finished collaboration. Since I was busy working on vocal parts for tracks the guys were laying down, I found myself playing guitar only on “40 Days and 40 Nights” and “Snowblind Friend”, however Larry more than picked up the slack in that department. During these sessions, I developed an ear infection and remember doing vocals with one ear out of commission. All in all “7” remains as one of my favorite Wolf albums to this day.
On this record we were joined by Kent Henry on lead guitar, who had been recommended to us by Richard Podolor, our producer. He and the guys stretched out on this album and came up with the extended experimentation on the title cut. To give Goldy McJohn his just dues, he played some excellent piano, on the album overall, especially on the long version of “For Ladies Only”. While I contributed only one song namely “Shackles and Chains” to the project, I really liked some of the outside songs such as Mars Bonfire’s “Tenderness”, “Ride With Me” and “The Night Times For You”. Despite it’s good points, I felt that our road fatigue, and other factors, was beginning to show at times in our studio efforts, i.e., a lower energy level. While the album’s theme and lyric content was ahead of it’s time in the Rock and Roll world, over the ensuing years this record nevertheless became quite popular. However at the time of it’s release, I was ready for a change and decided the retire “The Wolf” and spend more time on my personal musical needs.
With the exception of “Sing With The Children”, the rest of the songs were recorded by studio musicians and myself. Mike Utley, keyboards, Russ Kunkel, drums, Danny Kortchmar, guitar and Lee Sklar, bass. With hindsight, I feel the album was perhaps, a little over produced and at times had a pop sound. Nevertheless this is still one of my favorite albums to this day. I’m particularly fond of my version of “Drift Away” as well as “My Sportin’ Life” “Nobody Lives Here Anymore” and “Dance To My Song”. Two other favorites of mine are “Sing With The Children” (double slide guitar work between Kent Henry and myself) and “Easy Evil” which has a great feel and Gloria Jones’ sexy harmony. People still comment on that song to this day.
Not too long after the “My Sportin’ Life” album had come and gone, The Wolf played what was to be our farewell tour in Europe. Reunited after some months apart we were recharged. The tour proved quite successful and playing together was so much fun that we decided to record a new album. “Slow Flux” was the first project to be recorded in my studio in California (which by now had expanded into a full working studio). Bobby Cochran, (nephew of rock pioneer Eddie Cochran) had joined The Wolf on guitar and his high energy helped propel much of this album. Some of my favorites include “Straight Shootin Woman”, written by Jerry Edmonton (who with Tom Gundlefinger, created the album cover) “Children Of Night”, “Gang War Blues”, “Smokey Factory Blues” and “Fishing In The Dark”. Overall I thought the album was a good effort. The LP made the top 40 chart and while“Straight Shootin Woman” reached the top 20 singles chart, and so a new chapter of Steppenwolf (the 70’s) was born.
By this time Jerry Edmonton (our drummer) had taken over the art direction and started working with a photographer named Lori Sullivan. Together they created the “Hour Of The Wolf” album artwork. Once again we recorded at my studio but the record was mixed by Roy Halee who some of us had worked with during our days with “The Sparrow”. Roy, who is a renowned engineer, gave the album it’s full and varied sound. “Mr. Penny Pincher” and “Another’s Lifetime” were fine songs and I also like the way “Someone Told A Lie” turned out while Mars Bonfire (of Born to be Wild fame) contributed a timely new tune called “Caroline, Are You Ready For The Outlaw World”. That track also featured Tom Scott playing a burning sax solo through a leslie. Overall the album was less raw and bluesy then some previous Wolf efforts but it showed some of our other musical sides to good advantage. Unfortunately our label “Mums Records” folded just when this album was released and so it was more or less ignored by Epic who was Mums distributor.
The ABC Collection is a 1976 greatest hits, album orf studio recordings by Steppenwolf, released by ABC Records after the band's second breakup. The label owned the band's early back catalog after acquiring Dunhill Records. This collection was released the same year as Reborn To Be Wild, a compilation album of the band's Epic Records catalog from the mid-1970s.
The recording of this album fulfilled our contractual obligations to Epic Records. While I found it difficult to find the motivation to write songs for an album that I felt was the musical equivalent of The Titanic, Bobby Cochran, our intrepid guitarist felt no such energy drop. No one worked harder to give the record life than he. His enthusiasm was infectious to the point that when we were finished I was surprised at the results. The title song as well as our versions of “Road Runner” , “Rock and Roll Song” and “Pass It On” are still some of my favorites.
This was my third solo album and the first one recorded outside California, namely Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which at that time was a hot bed of recording activity. Since most of my musical influences are of southern origin, I looked forward to this experience and I was not disappointed. In addition to working with such fine musicians as Clayton Ivey, keyboards; Roger Clark, drums and Bob Wray, bass, as well as the Muscle Shoals Horns. I had the pleasure of once again playing with Steppenwolf alumni Larry Byrom , lead guitar. After quick rundowns we had tape rolling and in no more than 3 weeks the LP was mixed and done. It has that slinky, funky groove and lazy feel which I admired so much on many of the recordings from Muscle Shoals and Memphis. With a couple of minor exceptions I still enjoy the music on this record and it remains one of my favorites to this day...