la pièce de résistance

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell

After an unsually long abscence of my unloved category of CD reviews, I'm coming back to present you Meat Loaf's 1977 album "Bat Out Of Hell".

34 million buyers can't be wrong, as some might say, but there are enough out there loathing the exaggeratedly romantic rock n' roll songs of Jim Steinman anyway. Often with lyrics that seem to be about to slide into kitsch just with the next line and an multi-instrumental composition, often involving violins likewise, the whole sound could be described as cheesy by those who cannot appreciate the underlying irony and the mass of innuendos hidden in the words. 

The cover itself might be mistaken with one of Manowar (in later times - we're speaking of 77), implying a harder tone of music than it actually contains - but this also adds to the ironic undertone of the whole work.

The duo of singer Meat Loaf and composer Steinman continued their cooperation ever after until in the 90s they ended their work. Nevertheless, after the "second part" of Bat Out Of Hell in 93, a third volume has been published, which yet only contained a couple of songs written by Steinman and not solely for that very album.

However, this first and by most critics positively reviewed record should set stone for Meat Loaf's global fame, although, as mentioned, a whole lot of harsh criticisms are still uttered by those who accuse the album of promoting a romantizised, cheesy, and surreal view of the world.

But who wouldn't want that from time to time?

The opener record is the one song the album's named after, "Bat Out Of Hell". Starting with a piano intro and guitar melodies, this almost ten-minute track conveys the whole album's feel quite easily. With lyrics about a young romance, the boy comparing himself to a bat as he has to leave her by dawn, and his sudden crash and death out on the road, the choires, the enthusiastic singing of Meat Loaf himself, and the all in all positive feel of the song (except for the bridge, where he lies on the road, dying) it is hard to notice the underlying, almost Romeo & Juliet-like tragedy - which is of course part of the romantic image of this record.

"You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth" has to be one of the best-known songs this album has to offer. Starting with a spoken intro in which Meat Loaf declares himself "the wolf with the red roses", with her asking if he is able to offer her his jaws and mouth, which ends in the ironic statement that he thinks her vow of love is a thing many boys so far have heard - the song breaks into a description of the couple lying at the beach, about to kiss, when Meat Loaf states that "she took the words right out of his mouth" just when he was about to say the loves her. This is illustrated with sweet piano lines, driving guitar rhythms and the famous clap-along part at the end of the song.

"Heaven Can Wait", in contrast, is a standard love song, without drums or guitars, only piano, soft choires, and slight orchestra parts.

"All Revved With No Place To Go" features pounding drums and driving sax, and lyrics about teenage love with Meat Loaf craving to take her virginity (Someone's gotta draw first blood / Uh, I got to draw first blood). All in all, one of the weaker songs, if it wouldn't be for the outro in doubletime, which adds some seriously needed pace to the song.

"Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" is another soft ballad about the end of a relationship, as Meat Loaf confesses that despite the deep affection he feels for her, he is unable to love her, for he swore a long time ago to his one and only love that he will never love another - when this girl herself left him. Sounds cheesy? Yeah, and somewhat also sounds alike. The lines I know you're looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks / But there ain't no Coupe De Ville hiding in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box might be the most genial moment of the song. Still, for some unexplicable reason, the song in a whole has got a certain attraction. Don't ask further, please, I don't know.

"Paradise By The Dashboard Light" is again a story about a teenage love. It's split into three different parts, of which the first ("Paradise" [Nonw the fucking thirteenth time one of those fucked up yellow faces interrupts my articles - can I ever get rid of them?] tells about the young love claiming that Meat Loaf had never had a better-looking girl than right now. They are parking by the lake when Meat Loaf wants to have sex with her, described in a metaphor through a radio broadcast of the comment on a football game. That's when the second part starts off, entitled "Let Me Sleep On It". She breaks off the fumbling to ask if he swears he will love her forever, and although he first tries to delay the answer, he finally promises it. The third part, "Praying For The End Of Time" describes how very annoyed he is by his promise and his girl - so now, as he would not break any vow, he's Praying for the end of time / So I can end my time with you... what's funny about this song is the rush through all stages of a relationship in an estimated nine minutes, not to speak of the virtuosic instrumentalisation and singing with Ellen Foley "playing" Meat Loaf's girl.

The album's last song is called "For Crying Out Loud". This one, again, is a regular love ballad. Only piano and orchestra distract from Meat Loaf's great voice, although it misses the usual ironic view of romance most of the other songs have.

All in all, this album is quite hard to rate. Apart from the undoubtedly great skills of both instrumental and vocal artists, the production is in fact almost kitsch, and you have to sort out all the innuendos in the lyrics to understand the not too dead serious meaning of the texts. Yet, somehow I'm digging the humour, and the music, though cheesy, is just well composed. So for those reasons, I will rate "Bat Out Of Hell" an

9 / 10.



14.1.09 16:10

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