As Steppenwolf approached the end of their sophomore year as Los Angeles rockers of national and international repute, they were bidding goodbye to the 1960s with a fourth studio album and a new chart single. Their days of top ten US singles were, it turned out, already behind them, but the Monster LP would still bring them another gold disc and, on 27 December 1969, a new Hot 100 entry from it.
The album, produced like all its predecessors by the Palestine-born, LA-based Gabriel Mekler, was more political in nature than Steppenwolf’s previous work. That was not always to the liking of contemporary reviewers, but the band had ample confidence to stick to their guns, on songs by frontman John Kay, drummer Jerry Edmonton, Mekler and others. Seen by some as a watermark release, Monster was a clear attempt by the band to make further inroads into the FM radio market, having conquered pop radio with their earlier hit singles.
Kay and Mekler’s ‘Move Over’ was released as a single ahead of the album in the summer of 1969 and reached No. 31 on the US chart. The LP followed in November, debuting at No. 188. It made slow progress at first, but by Christmas week was sitting pretty at No. 18, as an edited version of its ambitious opening track arrived as a single.
The nine-minute, socially aware and episodic ‘Monster/Suicide/America’ was trimmed down as a single and named simply ‘Monster,’ entering the Hot 100 at No. 71. It spent one week in the top 40 at No. 39 in early February. By March, the Monster album was gold in the US; it turned out to be the last to be made by the original Steppenwolf line-up, before the arrival of bass player George Biondo, who debuted on the Steppenwolf 7 set of late 1970.
Follow the official Steppenwolf Best Of playlist.