My first encounter with Meat Loaf
was back in 1993 when I'd Do Anything For Love
was at it's peak. Everybody I knew hated that song but I thought there was something intriguing about it so I bought the Bat Out of Hell
II album and got hooked on the atmosphere and the extensive, if somewhat sprawling songs. I then managed to find the 16 years older Bat Out Of Hell
and I discovered it to be even better than its successor. This album is pulsating with energy and has a timeless fresh feel to it.
Jim Steinman has written all the music and he shows a talent for composing music that creates a visual projection in the back of the mind. I can clearly picture scenes from most of the songs on the album and it gives the songs a strangely familiar touch. Steinman injects drama and emotion in his songs and this grabs me in such a way that I look past the sometimes simple and too direct lyrics. The music and Meat Loaf
's delivery can be summed up as a finely tuned BMW! (Brash, Melodramatic and Wry). This is pompous & proud rock music injected with strong symphonic and theatrical elements.
doesn't exactly have the most impressive voice technically, but he puts a ton of emotion into his performance and that is what counts. His voice is distinctive and full of vigour and I get the feeling that he is singing with his heart and soul pushed all the way into his throat. Never once holding back but always pushing his voice to the limit. That feeling affects the whole album. The piano work is outstanding and the guitar work is inspired on many occasions. The rythm section is strong and tight. Music such as this deserves a full bombastic sound, but that is unfortunately the one thing missing from the album. The sound is rather thin and lacks a good bottom.
The 10 minute opening title track may be the pinnacle of the album and makes for a highly enjoyable ride through the outer fringes of rock music. (You will pass almost every cliché on the way.) The opening two minutes of this song brings out the whole arsenal to draw you in. The way the momentum builds during the first 1 and a half minutes, with the piano as a bearing element, only to be run over by the wailing guitar melody, is not only working perfectly, it is an inspired beginning to a song. The first time I listened to the memorable opening guitar melody I felt this was going to be something special.
At its heart the title track is a purified rocker, but it has its fair share of twists and turns and with each listen you will discover small details in the instruments that you didn't notice before. In fact through the album it is as if every instrument has a life of its own and often you will recognize small melodies that you haven't heard before. That is also one of the reasons I keep listening to the album after having owned it for 11 years
With You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth
the album takes a quick dive into, what some would call, the world of sugary ickiness. The song works because everything is done completely over the top. Be it the playful intro, the overdone choir, the "let's all be happy and clap our hands together"-clapping at the end of the song or the mediocre lyrics. All these things should have made the song collapse, but it keeps standing. The one part that had me at hello is the harmonious bridge that leads to the first chorus. This part is absolutely magical and I find it imposible not to sing along. Ok, so it helps if you're hopelessly romantic, but anyway, a fun song, but surely a little repetetive near the end.
's voice, a piano and a few strings in the background is all it takes to create a moving song. Heaven Can Wait
is one example of a song that works because of a heartfelt performance. Just beautiful.
All Revved Up And No Place To Go
throws a saxophone into the mix with great success. It brings a wildness to the song, which in turn fits nicely as a contrast to the lyrics. Even the addition of Ellen Foley's vocals in the chorus works for some inexplicable reason since she gives the song an extra edge. The break leading to the frantic ending section is cool as well.
Two Out Of Three ain't Bad
is a mid-tempo ballad and the weakest song on the album. It is a little too static and doesn't hold as much variation as the rest of the songs. Not that it is bad, it just needs that extra oomph to really compare to the rest.
Paradise By The Dashboard Light
starts out as an up-beat car-crush party song but makes a turn along the way. The song features an eager duet between Meat Loaf
and Ellen Foley who both harmonise and play of each other to great effect. They both have a strong energy, which lasts through the song. The metaphorical baseball commentary works pretty well as a different kind of build up to the (anti)climax. A song to remember...
For Crying Out Loud
is a rousing ballad, mostly carried by a piano and Meat Loaf
's voice. After the big would-be finale with a huge orchestrated crescendo, the song returns to the silence of voice and piano for a final conclusion and this makes for a satifying end to the album.
In 1977 it may have been groundbreaking but how would I know since I was only 2 at the time. What I do know is that in 1994 this was one of those albums that expanded by musical universe and now 11 years later it is one of those albums I pull out of the cd rack when I want to take an enjoyable ride down a familiar road. If your first thought when you hear the words "Meat Loaf
" is "aarghh!" then think again. It is worth giving this one a shot.
Written by Steen
Sunday, December 11, 2005Show all reviews by SteenRatingsSteen: 8/10
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