Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell Ii: Back Into Hell
This followed the same formula as the original album some 16 years before. Mr. Loaf had once again teamed up with Jim Steinman and the partnership was to carry on from pretty much where it had left off. Start with a load of clichés and write songs around their titles. The result is as anthemic as the original, and at times verges on the bombastic in a way that Bat out of Hell never did, despite the accusations of some at the time and more afterwards. However, the songs are not up to the same level as on the original Bat out of Hell. Some of the clichés don't come off so well and to be honest, it is a little over-instrumented at times and the production is simply too refined to be able to combine that feeling of power which the songs deserve. There is frequently too much going on for it to be able to replicate the style of the original, if that is what the makers intended. Having said that "Objects in the Rear View Mirror" would not have disgraced the first album. But it is the only track on here of which I can say that.
Although it turned out to be the biggest selling sequel album of all time (where do people get these absurd statistics from) it does not match the sublime heights of its predecessor. It did not hang together as well as the original. The other main criticism I have of it is that some of the tracks are just far too long. Now there is nothing wrong with long tracks per se, but when the track could end quite acceptably in six minutes, there seems no justifiable reason to drag out the ending for another three.
What really provides the saving grace in my view, and what in the end justifies a rating higher than purely disappointing or worse, is the theme. Bat Out Of Hell was all about teenage angst, loneliness, not fitting in, not finding the girl, not getting the girl. This album can be said to describe the same person, a teenager in 1977, now in his late thirties and looking back on his life. The simplicity of teenage life is gone, and has been replaced by the hard reality that the choices made then have resulted in consequences with which you are living now. There is a sense of longing on this album; a longing for something lost which can never be recovered; a longing for a second chance to do certain things differently so that events may not have turned out as they expected. This is an album of hindsight, and "Objects in the Rear View Mirror" encapsulates that feeling perfectly. Teenage angst has been replaced with early middle-aged regret. In the same way I could relate to Bat out of Hell as a teenager, I can relate to its successor as someone of a contemporary age. It is almost as if I grew up from one album into the other. The album reminds me sometimes of those TV documentaries which followed up what certain school kids, visited in a documentary many years before, have become today.
Overall, this is a long awaited follow up, and well worth having if you liked the first album. In a sense it is a true sequel - it takes you forward from 1977 and brings you up to 1993. However, if you haven't got the first album, then I would go out and buy that first before you sample this.
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