Saturday, October 5, 2013

An Eclectic Avenue Playlist: Meat Loaf & Jim Steinman Edition

Over the top production & instrumentation; operatic, choral, sometimes Broadway-style vocals. Clever lyrics with word-laden, wild images & sexual innuendo. The latest hit from a teen pop sensation? No, we’re talking about the partnership of Meat Loaf & lyricist Jim Steinman. From the classic album Bat Out of Hell through the present day, they’ve created some of rock’s most iconic songs. Since Meat Loaf is currently doing a six-week run of shows in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino celebrating his career, let’s pay tribute with a little Meat Loaf/Steinman playlist:

1.     Bat Out Of Hell – the title track from the 1977 album has it all, the amazing vocals, great guitar work and an epic wall of sound, courtesy of producer Todd Rundgren.

2.     Paradise By The Dashboard Light – also from Bat Out Of Hell, the famous ode to one night of lust leading to a lifetime of regret. Originally recorded with singer Ellen Foley, but later performed by Meat Loaf with a variety of other artists, including Karla DeVito.

3.     You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth – a poppy, catchy sing along that starts with a spoken word intro (recorded by Steinman & Marcia McClain) “On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?” One of the best tracks on Bat Out Of Hell, and clearly influenced by the work of producer Phil Spector.

4.     I‘d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) – from Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell (1993), the song that brought Meat Loaf (and Steinman) back into the spotlight, and led to successful tours and more album releases.

5.     Read ‘Em & Weep – from Dead Ringer (1981) – from the follow-up album to Bat Out of Hell, a typically cool Steinman lyric and a fine vocal performance by Meat Loaf highlight this tune, which later became a hit for Barry Manilow.

6.     Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad – Perhaps the biggest hit from Bat Out Of Hell, and an AM radio staple for much of the 70s.

7.     Dead Ringer For Love – a duet with Cher from Dead Ringer, the video for this one has “VH1 Classic 80s” written all over it. Oh, and the song features the memorable Steinman line “Rock & Roll and brew. Rock & Roll and brew. They don't mean a thing when I compare 'em next to you…”

8.     Bad For Good – recorded by Steinman as the title track to his own 1981 album, it was later revived by Meat Loaf for Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster is Loose in 2006. The very definition of “over the top,” but a fun track, with guitar work by Brian May of Queen.

9.     Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are - from Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell. A long title for a mournful, reflective power ballad that runs about ten minutes on the record. Classic Steinman song structure & lyrics.

10.   Rock & Roll Dreams Come Through – another song from Steinman’s Bad For Good album that Meat Loaf later recorded and released on Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell.

11.   I’m Gonna Love Her For Both Of Us – along with the Cher duet above, this song was one of the singles released from Dead Ringer, an album that was successful, but didn’t quite reach the sales heights of Bat Out Of Hell.

12.  Nowhere Fast – Originally recorded by the Steinman created group Fire, Inc. for the 1984 film Streets of Fire, Meat Loaf’s version is on Bad Attitude (1985). Ironically, Meat’s version may be a bit more restrained than the original!

Bonus Tracks:
13.  I’d Lie For You (And That’s The Truth) – from Welcome To The Neighborhood (1995) – This tune wasn't written by Steinman, but this Diane Warren penned song is certainly patterned after the Steinman style in both vocals & production.

14.  Loving You’s A Dirty Job But Somebody’s Gotta Do It – Bonnie Tyler & Todd Rundgren. Not a Meat Loaf song, but this duet features Rundgren (who did work on all three Bat Out Of Hell albums) and Tyler, who had hits with several Steinman compositions, including Total Eclipse of The Heart. This duet can be found on Tyler’s 1986 album Secret Dreams & Forbidden Fire.

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