'Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical Original Cast Recording' Album Review
1. Love And Death And The American Guitar
2. All Revved Up With No Place To Go/ Wasted Youth
3. Who Needs The Young
4. It Just Won’t Quit
5. Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fryar
6. Good Girls Go To Heaven
7. Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad
8. Paradise By The Dashboard Light
9. Making Love Out Of Nothing At All
10. Bat Out Of Hell
11. In The Land Of The Pig The Butcher Is King
12. Heaven Can Wait
13. Objects In The Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
14. For Cying Out Loud
15. You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth
16. Not Allowed To Love
17. What Part Of My Body Hurts The Most
18. Dead Ringer For Love
19. Rock And Roll Dreams Come True
20. It’s All Coming Back To Me Now
21. I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)
I am not going to mince any words here. The first two ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ albums that Meat Loaf released are gloriously over the top and pretty much unlike anything else. The original was one faultless song after another with ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ becoming a karaoke standard. The ‘sequel’ came out when Grunge and Alternative was taking over the world, and it did not matter one iota as it sold millions of copies with more zany, catchy songs that just were made for Meat Loaf to sing. When I received this album, it was a mix of trepidation and curiosity as there is such a magic to the way Meat Loaf has sang these songs by Jim Steinman. This show and its soundtrack do not limit themselves to those two volumes though with added material from the third volume as well as other songs by Jim Steinman included.
With so much material in the show, this is a lot to take in over one sitting, but I imagine the live show is amazing to see as this is really a lot of fun. My trepidation approaching this album was the thought of someone else singing these songs as the Meat Loaf versions of most of these are burned deep inside my brain with the visual of Meat Loaf bringing them to life with his own theatrics. I am happy to say that my trepidation went away quickly as these are quality versions of these classics that will enjoy repeated plays. ‘Love And Death And The American Guitar’ serves as a bombastic introduction to the album. ‘All Revved Up With No Place To Go’ has always been a little bit of an afterthought to me at the end of Side 1 of ‘Bat Out Of Hell,’ but its co-mingling with ‘Wasted Youth’ here gives it some more teeth. It also gives a bite size song a chance to flourish out of the gate, with a sizzling piano section bridging Parts 1 and 2 of the ‘Bat’ albums. ‘Who Needs The Young?’ hits the sweet spot with a combination of a traditional Broadway show approach and hints of chaos around the edges. I know I would appreciate this much more with the visual theatrics of the show. The piano led ‘It Just Won’t Quit’ follows and has long been a favorite of mine. I have a soft spot for the hook in the song. These songs obviously lend themselves to the theatrical presentation, which I think goes back to why there was never a demo tape of ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ shopped around the record labels in the 1970’s. Steinman and Meat Loaf had to do live demonstrations.
It would be lengthy to go through every song here, but I want to hit on several highlights and notable points. ‘Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fire’ has been one song that never really did much for me on Part 2, but it gets a new life here that gives it a vitality I had not heard in the past. ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ was destined to sound strange to me without Meat Loaf singing it. While this version is very well done, it is just not Meat Loaf. ‘Making Love Out Of Nothing At All’ kept bringing the old Mike Reno and Ann Wilson song ‘Almost Paradise’ to mind. The frenetic start of ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ immediately follows and sounds crystal clear, especially the terrific piano work.
Song after song leaves me wanting to see the live show on stage as the cast of characters appearing here on the album is huge. ‘Objects In The Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are’ is slightly abbreviated at just over 7 minutes but remains a powerful song that lets the brain wander while listening to the lyrics. ‘You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth’ begins with the standard intro but with different voices which has thrown me off each time. The song sounds great though with the cast nailing each moment of it, and the horn work here providing another highlight.
The concluding run of songs is perfect for me as it starts with the upbeat underrated ‘Dead Ringer For Love.’ This one has long been my favorite from the ‘Dead Ringer’ album. ‘Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through’ follows and has always resonated with me lyrically. Musically, this one is presented much differently as the guitars are largely absent. This stripped down version shines in this context. ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me’ was never a huge hit for Meat Loaf, and the first version I heard of it was by Celine Dion. I have always enjoyed the song though and love the grandiosity of it here. Naturally, the closer has to be ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ which celebrates the expansive production of the show. I was in my early 20’s when this song came out, and it really served as my entry point for the Meat Loaf discography. I had heard some of the original ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ but had never appreciated it until this song was released. As Grunge and Alternative were exploding in the Rock scene, here was Meat Loaf releasing a 10 minute plus duet with an unwieldy title and a dramatic video that reminded us of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I loved it then and still love it today. This version is very well done and closes the album in style.
Jim Steinman is a musical and lyrical genius to my ears who doesn’t hit on every idea, but there is really no mistaking one of his creations. I was slightly disappointed that ‘Bad For Good’ is not part of the show, but that is really being overly critical with the sheer volume of material presented in the show.
This album will stay on my iPod along with the more familiar versions of many of these in the Meat Loaf catalog which I think speaks very highly of the material here. It is bombastic, over the top, contagious, and leaves me wishing I could see the full blown theatrical version. Highly recommended if you want to experience these songs in a new way or have a reminder of the theatrical version if you saw it.
‘Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical (Original Cast Recording)' is available now from available Ghostlight Records.
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Review - Gerald Stansbury