Today in Music History:
In 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono conduct a bed-in at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. They record "Give Peace a Chance," with Tommy Smothers, Timothy Leary and others.Take screaming vocals, over-the-top arrangements, and a sense of rock & roll as Broadway theater and you end up with the massive and awesome Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf's epic 1977 album. When he sets his mind to it Jim Steinman can write a helluva song. With a mind boggling seven tracks on it, it was worth every cent I spent to have it on vinyl, 8 track, cassette and CD, Just for the title track alone. I must confess though I'm not too fond of that Paradise track. Then supposedly every album after that one sucked and he ended up filing bankruptcy. Then along came Bat #2. Once again Jim Steinman's over the top, musical compositions made the Meat a household word again. Meat disappears into obscurity again and with the two previous Hell albums selling over 45 million copies, well I guess Bat Hell #3 was a no brainer. A track from Meat's upcoming album, Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose has leaked and is making the rounds through the internet and music blogs. Do we need another Bat? Can't we come up with a great album under another concept?
It doesn't matter, I'll buy this one too, as I have bought every single one of Meatloaf's albums. Mr. Meat could sing nursery rhymes and I'd probably buy it. In fact beside the first Bat, the albums that supposedly slid Meat into bankruptcy are my favorite ones. There is some damn good shit on them. If you've only kept up with the Hell series and never bothered to purchase some of the other ones then you're in for a treat today. Some of these tracks aren't as thunderous, nor opus-like as the Hell compositions, that is Steinman's specialty. Never the less there have been some damn catchy pop rock tunes. I like his voice when it's not broke, there's no doubt that he can belt them out. The Steinman compositions tend to be more grandiose than some of the ones I'll have here today, but as you well know they can be over bearing as well.
Now this first cut, comes off the follow up to The first Bat, called Dead Ringer. There was actually supposed to be a sequel to Bat next, but the Steinman-Loaf machine couldn't quite get it together. Actually some time between the first and second Bat, Steinman actually sued MeatLoaf for somne reason or other. Anyway, Dead Ringer is a corker of a tune that features Cher in a duet. Read 'em and Weep is one of the finest ballads that Steinman ever wrote. Smacking a bit of Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad, to be honest, but doing it in it's own special way, Read 'em and Weep is as much of a classic as anything else that Meat has ever sung, including the stuff on the "Bat" albums. It's not a ballad in the most typical sense - not like "Heaven Can Wait" or "For Crying Out Loud" from the 1977 LP - it's got guitars and drums and the works, but it's still emotionally driven and quite touching.This album was considered a failure because it only sold 6 million copies compared to Bat Out of Hell's 30 million.
These next couple of cuts come from his fourth album, if you're not counting his stints with Stoney and Ted Nugent(Say it Edward!). It's Called Bad Atitude and has Mr. Loaf teaming up with Roger Daltry on the title track. Simply glorious. This is a good album, the best of Meat's non-Jim collaborations (There are two Steinman penned songs, but he was absent from the studio). The sound is revitalized and very 80's rockish, Meat's 80's band, the Neverland Express, does a fantastic job at attempting to capture the bombast and spirit of Steinman's music.
Buy It (if u can)
His Fifth album released in 1986, Blind Before I Stop, really took a beating and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why. I loved it, but of course I'm a fan of meat. It definitely has an eighties feel to it, but hey it was the eighties, everyone had that feel. I know a lot of people hate this album, but I can't seem to bring myself to do the same. There's certainly something about it that's infectious and enjoyable. Rock N' Roll Mercenaries is EASILY the best track on this CD, and one of the better Meat duets that he as done. British rocker John Parr helps Meat out on this one, and he sounds as good as ever here. There are lyrics that tell a lot about the music industry as of late, and they tell their case perfectly, and the quote "Money is power, and power is fame," is one of the best I've heard in a long time.
Well too much Meat can be a good or a bad thing. Now you'll be ready to scoop up Bat 3 when it comes out. Honestly though, these albums need more exposure, because they're still better than most of the crap that's making the rounds now(Gnarls Barkley comes to mind). They sure didn't get a fair shake when they came out. Hope this gets you through the weekend and darn it, play safe. Homercat Out.