Steppenwolf

Live [MCA]

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Recorded at various concerts in 1970, this double LP (single CD) also infamously includes a handful of studio-created "live" cuts with overdubbed crowd noise on top of what are some surprisingly lean and effective live-in-the-studio performances. It isn't half-bad musically, roughly on a par with Happening Live by the Outsiders (another fake live release) for musical value, and it is one of the choicer pop-culture documents of its era, featuring such topical songs as "Don't Step on the Grass, Sam" (which opens with an offhanded spoken critique of Operation Intercept, the crackdown on marijuana smuggling instituted by the Nixon administration) and "Draft Resister," and longtime parts of their repertory such as "Tighten up Your Wig," "Corina, Corina," "Power Play," and "The Pusher." The obligatory hits, "Magic Carpet Ride" and "Born to Be Wild," are also present, and it is fun listening, featuring essentially the same lineup that recorded the Monster album that preceded it. The guitars of John Kay and Larry Byrom interweave beautifully, and there isn't much excess, even allowing for the presence of a ten-minute version of "Monster." And assuming that the repertory is appealing, listeners should love the longer versions of most of the songs present here, whether they were really live or not.

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