Monday, January 4, 2016

Bat Out of Hell - Meat Loaf

A review that's pretty much been done since November, I finally decided to finish this for the new year (12/28/15). This is the first solo album by famous American showman Meat Loaf. Though this is his first solo record, it isn't his first appearance on record. He first appeared as half of a duo, with Cheryl "Stoney" Murphy, in 1971 under the name Stoney & Meat Loaf. After that, in 1974, he was in the LA production of Rocky Horror Show and that Cast produced my favorite version of the show (which I reviewed here). Then in 1975 he was the only one from the 1974 cast to be in the movie, or Picture Show rather. Well Curry was in the original cast, so I didn't include him. Now I do know more information about Meat, and some history about the songs, but that's not the focus now. The focus is, as always, on the music. So.... lets talk that instead. This 1977 classic rock classic features songs, all of them, written by Steinman and produced by Mr. Rundgren. On top of that, this album also happens to have some great musical talent playing here. The list of players including Todd RundgrenRoy BittanMax Weinberg and Edgar Winter. I want to say something fast before starting the review. Jim Steinman wrote these songs. Every song on the album was written by him, and Meat Loaf doesn't have any writing credits. Just remember that. Okay cool
  1. Bat Out of Hell: This opens the album, and its pretty solid. I have listened to this half a dozen or so times. I've concluded it is, in simplest terms, 9 minutes other peoples music hodgepodged into one "epic". This mixing and matching can work but when you get to the down and dirty the mixing and matching is of popular 70's sounds. The intro starts with piano arpeggios. Which, being played by Roy, reminds me of Bruce. Then the song goes into a progressive rock feeling before reminding me of a mix of You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet, Jimi Hendrix's guitar playing or an arena rock guitarists and yeah. The the song goes into a little piece that I can sing another song over, I can't recall that though off the top of my head. Followed by a very Bruce part reminiscent of Thunder Road, it could almost be a variation. I'm serious, sing the words to the rhythm, it works. This then goes to the chorus which is not the epic chorus I wanted. Look at that damn cover, you need to feel the rush, you need to be able to play this while you drive off a cliff at 150 mph to your impending death and feel no regrets other than I feel the music. With the build up, the pay off for the whole "I couldn't take it any longer" part of Paradise is the level of epic this song needs, but it doesn't reach. Then it further drains its epic-ocity by using Brian May-esque guitar fills. I mean even towards the end it reminds me of the style parody, or homage, that the Flight of the Conchords did with Love is Your Weapon of choice. While I enjoy the song, enough to have it on my iPod, I think there are far better songs that contain just about every part of what makes up this song. Also the vocals sound like they were stole from In The Jungle at the fade. Like the ending of the song (the harmonies). Also i checked and that sings old as shit. I mean yes, I do enjoy the track and I think it's a great opener to drive or speed too. But without the thrill of the speed and the rush of doing something wrong, it looses some of it's magic. But most of the album is like that, you need that danger to add too it. I feel like that was intentional though. And yes, those moments it's great, it's fucking great.
  2. You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (One Hot Summer Night): This is another epic sort of title, I can imagine a story, hell a movie based off the title. The track starts off with talking back and forth. Now it may seem a bit drawn out and boring in the intro, but trust me. It isn't as indulgent, though if this were an art movie that'd totally be the opening credits over a black screen, as Steinman's 1981 follow up Bad For Good track Love and Death and an American Guitar. That's the little intro but the for the length of an entire track, which clocks in at 2:38. This track, were presented with here, only lasts 45 seconds and features Steinman and a woman named Marica McClain. It's kinda dumb, but the guy wanted I guess. I jusr feel its so out of place on this record. Its almost as if they threw in some artsy bull crap to make it more sophisticated. I mean, if what they were saying made some damn sense I might be mode compassionate. This song reminds me, in the beginning of maybe The River-era Bruce and the verses remind me of Christmas, and maybe Born in the U.S.A. a bit. Like maybe if it is an outtake from that period that was scrapped. Either that or Darkness-era. But then again this has too much instrumentation going on... Well maybe not. I don't know.... I have to think about it, but I do know it's on one of the lesser albums. This song screams Christmas though. I'm completely serious, it even has a sleigh-bell played very prominently though the song. There is also, with the backing vocals, a very clear Ronettes/Wall of Sound inspiration. I mean, this isn't bad, it's just not that great. I don't think I'd care if that title wasn't so memorable. 
  3. Heaven Can Wait: This would be cool, but I don't really agree. Also I've seen tons of titles or things saying "Heaven Can wait" and that usually mean "its my cop out to commit this sin". That has nothing to do with my enjoyment of the song, its just a pet peeve of mine. I do enjoy the parts where you can tell Roy is playing. While this isn't overtly Christmas, the feeling I get is a very "standard" type song. Like this song has a feeling that if it was written 50 years earlier or 40 years it'd be a vocal jazz standard. I feel like if I dug into the notes of this song, it's be pretty interesting, but I don't do that because I'm not a fucking theory genius and don't claim to be. Maybe one day I'll revisit this and add more, but this song is a nice song to follow the last song.
  4. All Revved Up With No Where to Go: This is a pretty sick title, if your into bikers and biking and all that jazz. I'm not in any way a Harley Rider, though Ghost Rider is pretty bad ass (comic book/movie/song). There is really something holding this back from me really being able to even focus on this song. The fact being, it screams Bruce Springsteen. I could almost swear Clarence is playing that saxophone. I mean seriously this could be a cover of Badlands. After all, this song is pretty similar to it. There is only one section of the pre-chorus where I could maybe say Bruce wouldn't do that there, but this track is very indebted to Darkness On the Edge of Town/The River era Bruce. Then there is a middle section, I wanna call the middle eight, where it sounds like a Rocky Horror track. That Rocky Horror section is easily the better part. This goes back to the main part before closing in a similar to the way Rose Tint My World ends.
  5. Two Out of Three Ain't Bad: This track escaped me for the longest time. I eventually looked it up, read it, and well it still didn't click. It wasn't until I came back right be for the review and just listened for the hell of it that it clicked. This is a sad song, the woman is the one rejecting him. In Paradise he kinda lies, I am figuring he just isn't sure and might think he's in love but isn't really, but he's kinda the bad guy in that situation. I think this is the only track where he's the victim, now I could be wrong.... But I'd like to this this is the only one like that. But this song is more of a Heaven Can Wait instead of a Bat Out of Hell. Actually the best comparsion might be either All Revved Up or You Took the Words Right Out. A decent track.
  6. Paradise By The Dashboard Lights: One of the best songs ever, and one of the funniest. Not funny in the way Weird Al is, funny in the way that God Only Knows is. That's not a funny song, but it's funny that it is a perfect encapsulation (?) of young people (or a young person rather) in love, and how it's kind of unsure and foolish (so to say). I look at this song as when the dreamer turns into a horny college kid (they're 17 in the song but still, maybe late high school). This song is about two people about to have sex, and the lead up to it. The girl doesn't want to until she knows he loves her, and that he will love her "forever". If he believes that he does okay, but I'd say he probably is more on the horny side considering he said, instead of an answer ("Let me sleep on it" and he'll "tell her in the morning"). But regardless he eventually say he does, but after the sex he "prays" for the "end of time". The best part is he wants the end of time so he can "end his time with you". Then there is other stuff that kind of adds to it, and there's more stuff to pick a part at the end of the song, but that's not what I want to focus on in that paragraph. Now the music just gives this little story an amazing epicness that makes it even better. Rosalita is funny in that it has to be true, I can't imagine that Bruce wrote that out of the blue and wasn't inspired by any real life events. This song is a very real life event, loosing your virginity.... kinda, most have lost it young in High School or can somewhat relate to that love vs lust of teenage years. Rosalita also plays like an epic play in it's own right, because of the changes, thought this changes more. This musical mini opera is on par, probably better, than A Quick One's title track. And the thing is it's changes styles from the straight forward piano heavy rock & roll that with different production wouldn't sound out of place in the 50's, to the soulful breaks in the songs beginning. Hell it even gets more 50's sounding after that, even adding doo-wop inspired vox. This is followed by a quick little interlude that has some funk guitar, before going into a baseball narration (done by Phil Rizzuto), over a straight up funk rhythm section, telling us just how far he's getting. Before being stopped by something that reminds me of Rocky Horror, where the girl (sung by Ellen Folley) needs reassurance, as mentioned earlier. Meat Loaf's reply, "Let me Sleep On it", has a more doo-wop (sorta). If it was at a slower pace i could see it being a bluesy or doo-wopy section. The ending goes back to that rock and roll style. But to be completely honest I love this track. One last thing, this is one of those rare tracks my parents used to listen to when I was younger, and usually those have somewhat nostalgic liking for me, this track transcends that and I like it on its own merits. And I still haven't gotten sick of it after 15 or so years of listening to it, another is Just Like Heaven. Also listen to this driving and feel the rush of that build up, and its pay off, before " I couldn't take it any long" damn is that powerful. It makes me want to get a Hog to ride just do that part. I looked at this before I posted it and was like, damn. The reason is because the lenght of this review (everything) could at least be doubled if I kept adding to this to get it perfect. And then I  could add even more to it. This song is just so damn good, please please please please listen to it with open mind. Please! {11/10}.
  7. For Crying Out Loud: Closing the album is this and its title is rather humors. But that isn't really a huge part of this, or play are part in what I have to say. I think this is a solid track, the introduction has this very pretty melodic vocal, piano part that really is just heavenly (not heavenly but like Ear Candy to me). That whole entire first section is pretty solid. Then the song ends and strings come in and it becomes a bit of a Don't Cry For Me Argentina. But other instruments coming in take me out of that frame of mind a bit. This is a very epic guns blazing, hell raising ending. If this album opens with a motorcylce ride, then the album ends with an epic Thelma and Louise "cliff jump". This song just feels like the ending. After that string section that later adds in rock instruments it goes back to a more soft ending that would totally be the Don't Cry For Me section. Alone the arrangement here is pretty gorgeous. I mean if you get the right singer to sing this it'd bring anyone to tears. While I don't think Loaf is the singer to bring me to tears, I think you'd need someone with a personality to sing it that way. I'd love to hear an orchestral cover of this track. Like if the London Symphony Orchestra or one of those did this, that'd be awesome.
Overall I have to give this album a 7/10. No song do I think Loaf does a bad job, its more what he's given to work with. The biggest flaw is how epic this is supposed to be, yet how not epic I feel listening to it. The songs borrow from other songs so heavily its crazy how people now haven't nit picked it to death. Serioulsy, my biggest problem, and really only problem, is the songwriting. Now positive talk about the album. Paradise is the definitive, in my mind, rock opera. I love Tommy, and Quadrophenia, but that one song is more epic than anything Pete has ever done. Even though there is only one song here I can say is cherished and well never go anywhere, its already proven that to me. I'd give this a listen, and if you like it, look at why rather then just blindly listening. I kinda wanna review Rocky Horror, but if I did I'd review my favorite version (PS not the film soundtrack). It's between the original London Cast and the Roxy Cast. The film version is the worst in my opinion, in part because of one of the "loves of my life".... Damnit Janet!

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