We’re an American Band: A Journey Through The USA Hard Rock Scene, 1967-1973

Various artists

Early hard-rock bands were often British (Led Zep, Sabbath, Purple), but this box set looks at the American acts morphing from psychedelia into something crunchier. The wildly influential Vanilla Fudge delivers “Ticket to Ride,” with Tim Bogert’s thundering bass, and Iron Butterfly’s “Theme” is acid-rock incarnate using an eerie, chromatic riff. Blue Cheer’s diabolical cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” was a revolutionary roar; Leigh Stephens’ cranked-up tones weren’t metal, but still damn hairy for 1968.

In contrast to bigger bands, minor acts are included, like the Blues Magoos, whose “Chicken Wire Lady” defies categorization. It’s not hard rock yet, nor is the Human Beinz’s “April 15th” with its fuzz riff and Pete Townshend-style power chords. Alice Cooper dropped its 1969 anthem “Fields of Regret” via dirt-spewing axe men Buxton and Bruce, while Frijid Pink ignites a square-wave blast of “House of the Rising Sun.”

By disc three, we’re well into ’70s thump with ZZ Top (the fierce “Neighbor Neighbor”), Cactus (“Evil”), Blue Öyster Cult (“Transmaniacon”), Todd Rundgren (“Is It My Name”), and Grand Funk, whose 1973 cowbell classic gave this box its title. Even 50 years later, Mark Farner’s solo is still a thing of molten, phase-shifter beauty.

This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.