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License to Rock
An important part of Cowbell Fever is the licensed music. We knew that a game named “Cowbell Fever” would have to feature licensed, popular music or there would be no sense in making it, and above all else it would have to include “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper”.
One reason the game was in development for so long was the time it took to secure the song licenses. We went after specific songs that fit the vibe of the game and the time frame of the story. We wanted awesome cowbell songs and we wanted the recordings by the original artist whenever possible.
We spent hours upon hours listening to classic rock songs trying to find just the right songs to license. At first we compiled a list of all the popular cowbell songs like “Low Rider”, “Honky Tonk Women”, “Oye Como Va”, etc. Those were good, but we needed to have a large list of songs to choose from. Sometimes you just can’t work out a deal for every song you want. So we would take a classic rock band like Steppenwolf and The Chambers Brothers and just preview every song in their catalog looking for some hidden gems with cowbell. We ended up with a list of close to a hundred really good songs. Not all of them had cowbell through the entire song, but they could still work well in a game like this. We also tried to choose songs that were close to the time period the story is set in that being the Summer of 1967, the Summer of Love. We am really happy with song list in the game. Our dream song list was a little different, but we got the majority of the ones we wanted in there.
Here is a little bit about the songs used in the game and the bands behind them.
“Down on the Corner”
“Down on the Corner” is the first song you play in the game. This is the original recording by Creedence Clearwater Revival from their album “Willy and the Poor Boys” from 1969. This song is a great fit for the story with the San Francisco Bay origins of the band and the time of the album’s release. This is a classic rock song in every way.
“Hair of the Dog”
“Hair of the Dog” is a hard-driving song by the Scottish rock band Nazareth. This song is off the album “Hair of the Dog” from 1975. This album also contains their hit cover of the song “Love Hurts”.
“Little Willy” is a hit song made famous by the British rock band Sweet. It was released in the US in 1973 and became the band’s biggest American hit. The band is also famous for their songs “The Ballroom Blitz” and “Fox on the Run”.
“Incense and Peppermints”
“Incense and Peppermints” is a hit song from the psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock. It was released in 1967 on their first album. The song was also featured in the motion picture “Psych-Out”.
“Evil Ways” is a song made famous by the band Santana from their 1969 album “Santana”. The band was founded in San Francisco during the late 1960s. This song was the band’s first top forty hit in the US.
“Time Has Come Today”
“Time Has Come Today” is a song made famous by the soul band The Chambers Brothers. The band integrated blues and gospel traditions with modern psychedelic and rock elements. They are best known for the 11-minute long version of “Time Has Come Today”. The song was a hit in 1968. This is a true cowbell song with the instrument playing a tick-tock pattern through parts of the song and features a reverb cowbell solo.
“Got to Give it Up”
“Got to Give it Up” is a hit song recorded by Marvin Gaye in 1976 and released in 1967 where it held the number one position on the US Billboard Hot 100 for one week. The song is reportedly a response to Marvin Gaye’s label Motown pushing the singer to record more commercially accessible dance music. The song has a great funk/dance groove and has a prominent cowbell rhythm.
“Better by the Pound” and “Good to your Earhole”
We like Funkadelic so much that “Cowbell Hero” actually features two songs by the band. Both songs are off Funkadelic’s seventh album titled “Let’s Take It to the Stage” which was released in 1975. This is one of Funkadelic’s tightest albums with a lot of great songs. It also features tons of cowbell.
Steppenwolf is a North American rock group formed in 1967. The bands hits include “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride”. The song “Rock Me” was a hit from the 1969 album titled “At Your Birthday Party”. The song features a very long bridge in which the cowbell is a prominent instrument.
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”
Last but not least there is the song “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” made famous by the American rock band Blue Öyster Cult. The song is from the band’s 1976 album “Agents of Fortune”. The song reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1976. In addition this song has become the most famous cowbell song ever recorded and became a pop culture phenomenon after the Saturday Night Live sketch which aired on April 8, 2000. The song has a driving cowbell and great guitar solo. A truly epic rock song.