Life at 33⅓: Like a herd of Harleys

Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell (Epic).

Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell (Epic)

*From the vaults of Carl Meyer, a record review written in August 1978.* (Why so late? Well, “Bat Out Of Hell” was a sleeper in Norway, not charting until 1982.)

I don’t know what Meat Loaf’s real name is (hey! we didn’t have Google back in 1978), but he is certainly one of rock’s weightiest stars, literally.  During the last six months he has led his group to the summit with the album “Bat Out Of Hell” and some stunning concerts.

Musically he belongs to the artsy end of heavy metal.  Todd Rundgren contributes to most of the album with members from his own Utopia and Springsteen’s E Street Band.  Todd is also responsible for the perversely overblown wall-of-sound production.  The songs are hauled through a jungle of twists and turns, sudden stops and cascading climaxes with a couple of soft, trembling ballads thrown in for good measure.

A veneer of horror is added by the sleeve’s illustration and by the doomsday like thunder of the music.  You find yourself caught between demons and angels as stories unfold about teenage lust, car sex rejections and crashes on the highway, the title track being the most violent crash song of all time.  Powerful, larger than life, riffs roaring like a herd of Harleys, and still every track is so full of hooks that they eat your brain.

Among my personal favourites are “Bat Out Of Hell”, “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth” and the Tubes-like epic “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” (an intense piece of sexuality delivered by Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley).  Great stuff!

Released: October 21, 1977
Produced by: Todd Rundgren
(All songs written and composed by Jim Steinman)
Contents: Bat Out of Hell/You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)/Heaven Can Wait/All Revved Up with No Place to Go/Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad/Paradise by the Dashboard Light  (I. Paradise / II. Let Me Sleep On It / III. Praying for the End of Time)/For Crying Out Loud

Meat Loaf – lead vocals, backing vocals (track 6), percussion (track 2)
Todd Rundgren – guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4–6), percussion (tracks 1, 2), keyboards (track 1), backing vocals (tracks 1–3, 5, 6)
Kasim Sulton – bass guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4–7), backing vocals (track 1)
Roy Bittan – piano, keyboards (tracks 1, 2, 6)
Steve Margoshes – piano (track 7)
Cheryl Hardwick – piano (track 7)
Jim Steinman – keyboards (tracks 1, 2, 6), percussion (tracks 1, 2), “lascivious effects” (track 6), dialogue intro (track 2)
Roger Powell – synthesizer (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6)

Edgar Winter – saxophone (tracks 2, 4, 6)
Max Weinberg – drums (tracks 1, 2, 6)
John “Willie” Wilcox – drums (tracks 4, 5, 7)
Marcia McClain – dialogue intro (track 2)
Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto – play-by-play (track 6)
Ellen Foley – featured vocal (track 6), backing vocals (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6)
Rory Dodd – backing vocals (all except track 4)
Gene Orloff – concert master (track 7)
Members of New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra – orchestra (track 7)