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Steppeulvene - Hip (1967)

Eik Skaløe - lead vocals
Stig Møller - guitar, vocals
Søren Seirup - bass, harmonica
Preben Devantier - drums

Steppeulvene & the Student Riots

By 1967, the effects of the Vietnam War were beginning to severely affect European opinion of the U.S.A. and many American bands returned home under a cloud of depression from having weathered so many insults and questions about the actions of their government. Preaching freedom for Americans whilst destroying civilian populations thousands of miles away especially alienated the inward-looking Danes, whose youth was now beginning to follow the trend for ‘finding itself’ in travels to the east.

Their figurehead came in the form of the young hippy poet/singer Eik Skaloe, whose wordy songs and strangely-female sounding baritone made his band Steppeulvene (‘Steppenwolf’) sound like Marlene Dietrich fronting Mouse & the Traps. Eik Skaloe was the first of his generation to sing in his native language and – though his decision has ultimately rendered his muse opaque for the rest of the world – Steppeulvene’s 1967 LP, the immaculately-titled HIP, became the symbol of all things cool and defiantly Danish. Tragically, Skaloe’s success in Denmark could not hold back his Odinist wanderings forever and, in 1968, he disappeared whilst travelling through the Indian city of Ferozepore, aged only twenty-five. Whether or not Skaloe was murdered or died of a self-inflicted drug overdose in Ferozepore, the singer became Denmark’s own Brian Jonesian sacrifice and his early death in 1968 symbolically confirmed to young Danes that theirs was a righteous scene. Although the HIP album is musically very dated compared to subsequent bands, Steppeulvene’s influence was already vast and made even greater because of Skaloe’s disappearance at the height of his career. Skaloe is a still true rock myth in 21st century Denmark and will always be considered by the original Danish heads as having been ‘Brother Number One’. Skaloe inspired such highly political bands as the Jomfru Ane Band and Rode Mor to sing their own politicised songs entirely in Danish. The latter band featured the refusenik vocalist/poet Troels Trier and released such records at the anti-Vietnam War E.P. JOHNNY GENNEM ILD OG VAND (‘Johnny through Fire & Water’) about a dead American G.I. returning from the war unaware that he is a ghost. --- Julian Cope

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