Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell
This is brilliant stuff, despite what some people nowadays have to say about it. This is still as enjoyable as it was when it first came out. Over thirty years on from its release it has attracted its fair share of haters, but it may be hard for some of those who hate it to appreciate just how stunning this album was when it first came out and the effect it had on many, myself included. This was an album about every straight teenage boy's hormonal motivations - motorcycles and girls. This album proved to a generation of us that if only we had a motorbike we would get laid.
Jim Steinman took a load of popular clichés and wrote songs around the titles. Not just any songs, mind you, many of these songs have become anthems in their own right. They all appeal directly to the male angst of loneliness and the feeling of longing for power and the right to display it. It appeals to the deepest adolescent teenage male fantasies and fears and as such there has never been an album quite like this, and in all probability, never will be. This is seventies American teenage male life writ large. And yet, despite its American-ness, it has the power to transcend borders, even oceans.
The opening track, the title track, is all about one thing - motorbikes. Now if you want to get the attention of a teenage male without talking about girls, then this is probably the most effective way to do it. The track rocks and throbs its way along a story of desperation until the final crash brings it all to an end. On most albums, this would be the best song on the album, but no, Mr. Loaf has other things up his sleeve and he proceeds to unveil these with stunning ease.
"Paradise by the Dashboard Light" is such an incredible concept. Basically you put two teenagers fooling around in the back of a car with the boy aiming for nothing more than a shag and the girl making it clear she's not going to let him inside her knickers unless she gets some profession of commitment. We've all been there. What do you do? Well, he gave in and then regretted it. The addition of the talk over track of commentary on a baseball game mirrors the action in the car precisely. The song is superbly evocative - it takes you back to the fifties when all boys had leather jackets and a bad attitude and all girls had pony tails and virginity. At lest that is the story they tell you.
"For Crying Out Loud" is an epic to love. It is one of those few tracks where I truly regret that I am not able to sing. I despise karaoke but if I could, it would be this song which I would love to sing. The combination of a powerful vocal performance with some dramatic strings and soaring melodies is irresistible. I hadn't listened to this in a while and yet when I put it back on I found I could remember the whole thing, word for word, intonation and all. Now that is surely the hallmark of something really memorable.
"All Revved up with No Place to Go" is another song with an almost fifties feel about it. Now we are talking girls and motorbikes at the same time - this time it is the geek come good. This draws inspiration directly from Eddie Cochran's "Something Else" except the car is a motorbike. And yet it is a different song with its own personality. You can imagine every spotty, lonely teenage male listening to this and drawing hope from it, hope that acne was not the end of teenage life as he knew it.
These may be the four most memorable tracks on the album, but that does not mean to say that the other three tracks are in any way inferior. The whole album hangs together perfectly and would be a lesser album if any of the tracks off it had been left off. Male teenage angst has always been a rich hunting ground for song material, but there is no doubt that the combination of Steinman's observational acuity and Meat Loaf's powerful voice are what makes this album such a memorable experience for those who grew up with it.
The album has been criticised for being bombastic, overblown and melodramatic. In a way it is, but that is the whole point. Meat Loaf doesn't tell anyone that he simply loves that person, he wants you, needs you, holds you, serves you. Yeah, I love you - an almost dismissive bon mot which is totally insufficient to describe the emotion as it truly is. Nothing dismissive here about Meat Loaf and his emotions. And he makes his emotions yours. No one should lack this from their collection and if they do they should go out and buy it.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.
on 2011-11-04 SolitaryMan Said:
Meat Loaf got some really bad criticism over the years, and I really thought if anyone ever got after his music on ME, it would be nothing but negativity. It's good to see someone like Charles giving this excellent record the praise it deserves. Meatloaf was an iconic figure musically, he had a voice that transcended the pompous nature of the music. And yeah, the whole overblown, overdone sentiment is lost to me, that was the whole point and it fit with Meat's style perfectly. This is one of the best albums of it's time, if you ask me.
on 2011-11-04 hstisgod Said:
great review of what I consider an upbeat classic...