on July 17, 2002
Those who dismiss this undeniably popular album due to puerile lyrics (generally leveled at this album's sequel), over-the-top production, and Meat Loaf singing so passionately about such adolescent themes as a badly written farce totally miss the point. This is an album that pokes fun at all the rock and roll pretensions that had crept into rock music over the years (Townshend can you hear me?), and it succeeds wonderfully.
There's no doubt about it. BAT OUT OF HELL takes all these adolescent themes, mostly raging hormones, and builds, with operatic flair and lots of kitsch, this preposterously silly album which never-the-less struck a chord with a great many people. BAT OUT OF HELL is a concept album, but it doesn't carry all the serious connotations that such a label implies. This is Steinman taking all these broad-way musical conventions and hiring Meat Loaf, who could belt out vocals like no one else, and giving these teen-age angst-ridden years such a ridiculous setting that you can't help but laughing at the idiocy of what people thought were so important in their youth.
Steinman's and Meat Loaf's chief critics generally site the bombast and blowing up teen-age angst with such an operatic flair. They miss the point. I will always stand behind Steinman's position as an artist because he uses all these so called "weaknesses" for effect. It's a very silly album, but then, it's supposed to be. Even the cover-art is ridiculous. It's all about that bad boy/girl image that's so laughably fake that no one takes them as any real threat. Most call it "Just a phase they're going through."
Steinman shows how the youth, when they begin taking themselves seriously as adults, are so concerned with issues that as people grow up realise, while important, aren't so damned dramatic as they made it out to be. [The album cover]. I'm sure most people remember wanting to do something out of the norm just so they can appear to be so tough and independent, and looking back are glad they outgrew it. This could be music or fashion or whatever. The whole album describes that state of young people wanting "bad boy" image which is really, really hooky.
What makes this such a good album is even though it's all about that awkward transition phase between childhood and adulthood, Steinman deals with real issues, and surprisingly well at that. It's the very clear craftsmanship and the obvious "weaknesses" that are actually the strengths that makes this such a strong album. Although I've never though BAT had a straight-forward narrative, the title track (my personal favorite of both albums) introduces the type of characters we'll be seeing. The very last track tells of an individual who did make it past this phase and into maturity.
One of the more interesting things about BAT OUT OF HELL is its position on sex. Steinman's lyrics have a very perceptive view of what sex is, and shockingly it's much more along the lines of what Christianity teaches. Although you cannot conclusively say BAT OUT OF HELL promotes sex only in marriage, it gives several portraits, with very distinct imagery, that suggests that the youth get so tied up in sex that they don't care at all about each other. The sexual urges has destroyed or drastically hurt most of the relationships depicted on BAT OUT OF HELL with the single exception of the last track.
To me, "For Crying Out Loud" has always been the key track to BAT OUT OF HELL. The six songs that go before depict these youth, so bound up in folly they don't know or show real love, continually broken and hurt in their relationships. In "For Crying Out Loud," however, an individual, ravaged with age, has finally found some one to love at last. They're no longer concerned with sex just for pleasure but they've found actually found a love.
There's such a jump in the age of Steinman's characters between the first six tracks and "For Crying Out Loud" that it BAT OUT OF HELL actually serves as a warning that if you don't grow up then you'll miss so much of what life has to offer. The first six tracks describe all the misadventures and stupid, malicious acts that these kids do, and then "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" transitions the characters from that song into old age, still without love. "For Crying Out Loud" then begins and is the only song dealing with an old person, and do to the transition provided in the previous song, it's reasonable to believe that Steinman wants to show what a lifetime of immaturity and bad boy posturing will get you. Steinman moves to the very heart and moral core of the record. This is where they discover that they don't have all the time in the world like they thought (in "Heaven Can Wait"). In the end, they also discover healthy sexuality as well, and are mature enough to raise their own children.
It's all these different facets that make BAT OUT OF HELL such a fascinating listen and an amazing artistic triumph. Most of this album's critics are so far off base they look positively asinine.
Those who are looking for a surprisingly deep and moral record that has a great sense of dramatic flair, this is for you.
P. S. While I enjoy listening to BAT II moreso, from the artistic standpoint this is the better record because its such a cohesive and well-sequenced record. BAT II has some great songs but doesn't present such a perceptive and far-reaching statement as this record does.
The title track begins with jarring , jamming keyboards, rocking guitar that more or less reflects the hard-rocking tone of this all-time classic. The main character here is someone who takes life by the throat in the dark, riding a "silver black phantom bike." With the line "When the motor is hot and the engine is hungry", I'm not sure whether he's talking about the bike or himself, such is the hunger of the main character. And even finishing ten seconds shy of ten minutes, it isn't excessive--worth every minute.
The opening narrative between "the wolf with the red rose" and the girl, probably Ellen Foley, in "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth" is quite something. The question, "On a hot summer night, will you offer your throat to the wolf with the red rose?" After she presses him with all these questions, such as "Will he love me?", "Will he starve without me?" and having been replied in the affirmative, she finally answers his original question, repeated, "yes." He says, "I bet you say that to all the boys." What a punchline! Hey, women are like that! It bursts into an operatic blaze of sound, the setting being a hot summer night on a beach, where the girl does the title action, just when he was going to say "I love you." The chorus is done a capella with handclaps at the end, in contrast with the rest of the song.
In "Heaven Can Wait", a sweet tender ballad, our main character, is feeling tamed by the girl, whom he equates with paradise. Fate has a funny way in things, as he says, "I got a taste of paradise/If I had it any sooner, you know I never would have run away from my home."
"All Revved Up And No Place To Go" begins with a throbbing bass rhythm punctuated by Edgar Winter's sax, before going into frantic mode towards the final minute of the song.
The sad and heartbreaking "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" is a narrative of a man telling a girl why he can't love her, all beacause of some woman in his past who told him what he's telling her now: "I want you/I need you/But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you/Now don't be sad/'Cause two out of three ain't bad." Yeah, but what a poignant one out of three!
Then comes the all-time gem of the album--"Paradise By The Dashboard Light," an intense rocker punctuated by alternating by operatic power choruses. The story is well-told on classic rock radio, a one-night stand, one night love affair, call it what you will, hijacked by the girl who demands a more lasting committment before she puts out. Leave it to a woman to spoil things! Kidding! And when Ellen Foley shouts "Stop right there! I gotta know right now!" you better listen up! The tempo really kicks up and the tension builds up especially when Ellen confronts him: "What's it gonna be, boy? Yes or no?" And it keeps up when Meat Loaf responds with "Let me sleep on it." What a pressure cooker! Professor Bittan's piano is unmistakable here.
"For Crying Out Loud", which for a while has only Bittan's piano, later explodes with the NY and Philly Harmonic Orchestra. As for the live tracks, the guitar instrumental intro, "Great Boleros Of Fire," is a prelude to a live version of the title track.
Well-known musicians: Todd Rundgren on guitars and sometimes on keyboards and backing vocals, "Professor" Roy Bittan, best known on Springsteen's E. Street Band on piano, drummer and fellow E-StreeterMax Weinberg, Jim Steinman himself on keyboards, Ellen Foley contributing backing vocals, and on the live tracks, Bruce Kulick, later KISS's guitarist.
Jim Steinman's fantastic rock-opera style would be revisited in the long-awaited sequel, Bat Out Of The Hell 2-Back In Hell, and in some portions of Bonnie Tyler's Faster Than The Speed Of Night and Secret Dreams And Forbidden Fire. And Meat Loaf can really belt out those powerful tunes, but can be equally tender on the slow songs. A masterpiece, what else can I say?
on March 6, 2000
Bat out of Hell is probably the one album in the history of rock, more so than Sgt. Peppers, more so than Are you Experienced?, more so than Van Halen, that you can honestly say 'There's nothing else like it'. The stellar, powerful singing of Jim Steinman's music by Meat Loaf has been unmatched over time.
This album has truly stood time's tests. It's been recharting steadily over the years (breaking into Britan's top 100 again only a few months ago!) and has sold no less than 35 million, making it the third largest selling album of all time behind Dark Side of the Moon and Thriller. Now that's some fairly good company.
As far as the actual music goes, it's simply amazing in scope and vision. Jim Steinman writes musicals, not songs, each and every time out. Bat out of Hell remains one of the best album-opening songs ever. Paradise by the Dashboard Light has long been, and probably long will be THE Karaoke song, THE Duet, THE ultimate teen-sexuality song. Two out of Three Ain't Bad, aka 'the hit', is still an adult-contemp radio staple, and every other song on this album is just as good.
The musicians backing Mr. Loaf are some of the best of their day... Todd Rundgren, believe it or not, did the lead guitars for the title track in one take (and it's a 10 minute song, people). Max Weinberg and Kasim Sultan made one heck of a rhythm section, taking to Steinman's varied tempos with ease.
The flawless Todd Rundgren productions makes this album the masterpeice that it is. Everything is just loud enough, just long enough, and just *good* enough to touch a button with every human being on the planet. And you know what? Just about all of them bought this album. No sense being left out. Bat out of Hell is truly a highlight of music history.
on August 25, 2006
I'm 17, ssshh ;)
This album..I don't know whether it can be put into words. There is no way to sum it up. There is no bottom line. But the amount of sales this CD is still generating speaks for itself.
I have memories of my father playing this on vinyl. It was available on CD, but dad never caught up with these times! Still, even when I didn't know what Meatloaf was singing about, even when I had to be in bed by 8:30pm with his music ringing through my mind, I felt it.
10 years down the track, and i've managed to pick up both the vinyl version and the remastered CD. Both have frequent play, by both me and my teenage mates. So many years down the track, this album still gets the blood pumping of the teen generation.
It's epic. It's melo-dramatic and far, far over the top. But that's why we love it. Jim Steinman's impeccable pen abilities, combined with Meatloaf's emotionally charged, ballad churning voice, you have a classic.
on May 19, 2000
This album falls somewhere between progressive rock, classical, and opera. Strange? Yes. Good? Definately. A classic? You bet. One reviewer said that Meat Loaf is a "pretty good singer". Man, is that a major understatement. Meat is one of the greatest singers of all-time. Although he is not my favorite singer, you'd be hardpressed to find another rock vocalist who could pull off these songs and not make them sound corny. Despite what some reviewers have said, that is exactly what he does here. Every single song is a masterpiece. The title track is a classic rock song, with the timeless "motorcycle guitar" from Todd Rundgren (who also does a masterly job producing this album). Paradise is the most well known song from here, and with good reason, it is great. Heaven Can Wait is a simple song (a rarity on this album) that features one of Meat's best ever vocal performances and some great piano work from Roy Bittan. Jim Steinman is a genius, plain and simple, anyone who could write such grandiose, sprawling music as this should be given credit, and no one else could've sung it except for Meat Loaf. For that reason alone, Bat Out of Hell is worth owning.
on May 28, 2003
I've starting collecting DVD-A and SACD titles and this is by far the most disappointing purchase to date.
As a kid I had the original album on vinyl. I currently have it on CD.
I don't have the musical vocabulary to tell you what is wrong. However, this is not the Bat Out Of Hell that you know. The instruments sound good. The vocals sound good. The only thing I can say is that the new 5.1 mix and new Stereo mix have changed this near perfect album into something else -- and its not as good.
Do yourself a favor, skip this SACD. It seems like a rush job. Get Every Breath You Take (Police) (SACD) or Synchronicity (Police) (SACD) or Boston (Boston) (SACD) or Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) (SACD) or Satch Plays Fats (SACD) or Sea Change (Beck) (SACD) or In Blue (The Coors) (DVD-A) or Tigerlilly (Natalie Merchant) (DVD-A) if you want good examples of what high definition audio can be.
on October 12, 2005
MEAT LOAF-BAT OUT OF HELL: Mountain's Leslie West and Mama Cass aside, rock has produced precious few 300 pound icons like this one time Ted Nugent vocalist, unnoticed Motown artist, and ROCKY HORROR SHOW scene-stealer. Even if you've never heard a note of BAT OUT OF HELL (which is unlikely), this everything-INCLUDING-the-kitchen-sink masterpiece deserves legendary status for its jaw-droppin' cover art alone. Backed by a quirky cast including sax maniac Edgar Winter, soul-beltin' mama Ellen Foley, motormouth baseball legend Phil Rizzuto, and members of the E Street Band and Utopia, Meat Loaf's debut was a schlock-splattered tag team effort with bombastic, lyrically longwinded composer/pianist Jim Steinman. Crammed with SPECTOR-esque groove-ology and maniacal musical maneuvers, the seven sonic slabs of operatic slam-glam here are really mini-plays...in fact, boy-meets-girl barnburner PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHT is divided into three subtitled acts. Super-producer/guitar guru Todd Rundgren lets rip like a Harley in heat on the crash 'n burn title track, the Loaf sweetly laments lost lust on TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD, and you can almost smell the sexual sweat on ALL REVVED UP WITH NO PLACE TO GO. He may be thinner now and sport a better hairstyle, but BAT OUT OF HELL will forever remain Meat Loaf's meal ticket to musical immortality.
RATING: FIVE BURGERS
on September 21, 2005
In 1977, I remember seeing an album called "Bat Out of Hell" by an artist named Meat Loaf. My first reaction would be Meat Loaf??? I As I got older, I soon realized that this would soon become one of the legendary albums of all-time.
The reason why "Bat Out of Hell" is such a great album is because it really is a triple-headed monster - Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf, and Todd Rundgren. Many people know that the songs on "Bat Out of Hell" were written by Jim Steinman. For all practical purposes, "Bat Out of Hell" marked the breakthrough album for Steinman. It was Steinman's innovative songwriting that many people think give "Bat Out of Hell" its edge. For the most part, Steinman assembles a product that is for all practical purposes a Rock Opera (this is now called Wagnerian Rock). The concept seems to revolve around the thoughts of an a teenage/young adult male. "Bat Out of Hell"'s signature song "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" really epitomizes the Rock Opera theme - especially during the part when "Boy" and "Girl" trade vocals in a musical dialogue which is considered to be true songwriting genius.
Steinman recognized he couldn't do it alone. While Steinman would provide the innovative songwriting, he needed a vocalist to pull this off. And he would need a special vocalist to do this. Steinman would find that special vocalist in Marvin Lee Aday - most commonly know as Meat Loaf. When I look at pure vocalists today, I have to put Meat Loaf at the top of that list. Not only does he have powerful vocals, but he delivers a passion that really makes his singing special. This might come from some of Meat's theatrical experience (i.e. "Rocky Horror Picture Show"). It is this passion that really makes carrying out the music that Steinman wrote work so perfectly. By his own admission, Meat is not a songwriter. Steinman and Meat would realize early on that they had a special combination when they started working together. Meat isn't just a hired hand in this case. While Steinman may be the author of the songs, Meat had significant input into the concepts of this album - and no doubt Steinman was able to translate this input into lyrics.
The third part of the Triple Headed Monster is Todd Rundgren. Rumor is that when Meat and Steinman were in the process of trying to get record company to take the concept of their album, they had much difficulty. Word is that guitarist Todd Rundgren heard it and decided to take the role as producer. Todd Rundgren is truly one of the most underrated names in the music industry. It was his leadership that really helped put Steinman and Meat's concept into reality. One way that Rundgren succeeded in doing this was by bringing him some top musicians to work along side the team. While Steinman would work keyboards and Rundgren would provide guitar work, Rundgren clearly recognized that a lot more was needed. Two big names that were brought to work in to work as studio musicians came from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band - pianist Roy Bittan and Drummer Max Weinberg. Bittan contributes his work to all seven of the tracks on this collection. Weinberg plays Drums on three tracks. These top-notch musicians help to carry out some of the most terrific music on this Rock Opera. I'm sure it was Rundgren who would recognize what a special voice he had in Ellen Foley - who would become most famous for singing the part of "Girl" on "Paradise By the Dashboard Light".
With five of the seven tracks over 5 minutes long and three of these tracks over 8 minutes long, this wasn't an album that was going to be heard a lot on Top 40 radio. However, it would be the Album-Oriented Rock Circuit and in general "word of mouth" that would garner this album popularity and help turn it into one of the greatest selling albums of all-time.
A Brief Synopsis of the songs:
"Bat Out of Hell": Longest track of the album. Terrific mix of keyboards and guitar. The song reminds me of something The Who would do (who embraced the Rock Opera style). You can also hear the trademark Roy Bittan sound. Meat actually doesn't start singing until about 2 minutes into the song. Meat delivers the vocals in a theatrical style and giving the song an added dimension.
"You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Nights)": The spoken dialogue at the beginning gives this song a Rock Opera feel. The song breaks into a trademark Roy Bittan led Piano melody. Meat's vocals once again come through with passion. Terrific background vocals that feature Foley and Rundgren help out.
"Heaven Can Wait": This is a softer ballad that often gets overlooked. Meat proves he can do the softer stuff as well as the harder stuff.
"All Revved Up With No Place To Go": This song brings in the use of a saxophone. Steinman and Rundgren do a great job at letting the saxophone be the "driving instrument". Rundgren's guitar combined and Bittan's piano are on form. Ellen Foley also provides background vocals.
"Two Out of Three Ain't Bad": A short enough song that it got mainstream airplay. Meat's vocals are the story here - a simply legendary song.
"Paradise By the Dashboard Light": As mentioned the album's signature song - and probably Meat's signature song. This song is almost a Rock Opera in itself - especially Meat and Foley's musical dialog at the end.
"For Crying Out Loud": Another underrated track. This song has that bombastic "Rock Opera Finale" type of quality to it that make it the perfect wrap-up song.
Overall, this is truly one of the great albums of all-time. Meat Loaf and Steinman always prove they are at their best when they work together. This album proves it - a must have.
on July 13, 2006
How does one describe Meat Loaf without sounding trite and cliche? To call him original would be mere understatement as there was no one like him before him, and no one like him after him. Meat Loaf does not sing Jim Steinmans' songs he devours them-he swallows them whole and when he releases them what emerges is a primal scream that soars to the heavens then down to the bowels of hell and back again. I always suspected that Mr Loaf is not of this earth but a demonic choirboy from some other galaxy and praise be to however, whoever, or whatever sent him our way so we mere mortals can stand at his altar transfixed and yes even terrified and elevated by his larger than life presence shaking as he performs his music like, like A BAT OUT OF HELL.
Meat Loaf should be considered a National Treasure as well as this CD.
on July 26, 1999
7 songs, 45 minutes. That in itself sums up the nature of this untouched classic. Not a song under 4:20. (Coincidence?) Not a note taken for granted, not a guitar chord that won't blow you against the wall, not a band member that isn't one of the greats of their time. And this set a pattern Jim Steinman would always follow to this day -- Not a bad song written by him, anywhere, anytime. Jim Steinman, you ask? Yes, my friends, he did WRITE this music (and just about every other Meat tune worth hearing). This album is as much the singer's (that would be Meat Loaf) as the writer's, however. Meat Loaf squeezes every last bit of emotion out of the too-smart-to-be-teenage-yet-still-youthful lyrics, and it's unquestionable that any other singer who attempted this work would have failed quite completley. Five of the seven songs on this album made his 'Best of' collection, but the wrong one was left off. For Crying Out Loud, the only song on the album that wasn't a hit SOMEWHERE (the entire album was released as singles) is by far and away the best song on the album and quite possibly the best song Jim Steinman ever wrote. It features a beautifully simple solo piano by E-Street's Roy Bittan in the first verse/chorus, and then kicks into an unforgettable overdrive with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. It's amazing how Meat Loaf sounds like he's one with the solo piano part, and when the orchestra kicks in, so does he, managing to somehow overshadow the hundred-something musicians during the orgasm-inducing (forget Herbal Essences) second chorus. The 9-minute composition ends beautifully, as well. For Crying Out Loud aside, every other song on this album is beautiful. The title track (10 minutes, no less) teaches everyone that 'No no no, THIS is how you kick off an album'. Paradise by the Dashboard Light will live forever as long as Karaoke bars and college talent exhibitions still exist. (Do you love me? Will you love me forever?.... now, now.. Let me sleep on it... etc etc). Two out of Three Ain't Bad is always fun to try and break up with someone with. You just can't honestly say a bad thing about this album. Meat Loaf gives his best performance ever, Steinman is at the pinnacle of his songwriting form, the band shoves the rest of rock out of the limelight, and the listener will never forget a note.