Follow-up albums arrived fast in the late 1960s. On October 5, 1968, just nine months after the release of Steppenwolf’s gold-selling, self-titled debut — the one containing “Born To Be Wild” — the Los Angeles rockers were back on the US album chart with The Second.
Not only did it repeat the gold certification of its predecessor, their sophomore set became the highest-charting of their career in their home country. It made its first appearance on the Billboard LP chart at No.139, even as the first album continued in the Top 10, holding at No.9. Then the follow-up record started to soar, helped no end by another major singles success in “Magic Carpet Ride,” released as a 45 the month before.
Glory days for Steppenwolf
The Second, produced like Steppenwolf’s debut by Gabriel Mekler (also to become known for his work with Three Dog Night and Janis Joplin) zoomed 139-50 in its second week. Another seven days on, and it was standing at No.28, then 23, 15, 7 and 5. After holding its place in the Top 5 for the rest of 1968, it edged up to No.3 in the first chart of the new year.
“Magic Carpet Ride,” written by frontman John Kay and bassist Rushton Moreve, fuelled the success, peaking at No.3 at the end of November 1968. Kay wrote most of the rest of the LP himself, but there were also contributions from Mekler and by Dennis Edmonton, otherwise known as “Born To Be Wild” writer Mars Bonfire.
These were glory days for Steppenwolf, and they were far from over, with a third Top 10 album, At Your Birthday Party, to come in 1969 and four more gold albums still in store, followed by a platinum-selling compilation in 1973.
As visiting enthusiast Pete Townshend told the New York Times on a US tour just before The Second was released: “Rock ’n’ roll is happening in America like it always did. We love it here. The Byrds, Steppenwolf, Booker T., Moby Grape, that’s rock ’n’ roll.”
Kay, talking to Hullabaloo soon after the LP appeared, mused: “When you first hear the first album, a few things stick in your mind. It has more of an immediate impact. It’s loud, overpowering, and very catchy in parts. The Second is more varied, and you have to listen to it a few more times – it took me a few times – to really hear it. But now, I dig it more than the first record.”
Buy or stream The Second.