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Bat out of Hell
Vinyl + Audio CD | Remastered
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Bat Out Of Hell
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Audio, Cassette, Original recording remastered, January 30, 2001
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Described as epic, gothic, operatic and silly all in the same breath, Meat Loaf's testosterone-fueled, Springsteen-inspired masterpiece-the third best-selling album worldwide behind Michael Jackson's Thriller and AC/DC's Back in Black -was shopped around for years before Todd Rundgren began production in late 1975. Songwriting credit goes to Jim Steinman on 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; For Crying out Loud; Great Boleros of Fire , and the title track.
Overwrought and undeniable, Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell remains both one of rock's biggest--and least likely--hit albums. The byproduct of a partnership between beefy singer Marvin Lee "Meat Loaf" Aday and fellow journeyman/National Lampoon Road Show cast member Jim Steinman, Bat out of Hell met 1977's vaunted Year of Punk with a blast of neo-operatic, Wagnerian-scaled bombast (based on Peter Pan, no less) that was as reactionary as anything the spiked set and their supporters could possibly imagine--13 million units worth, and counting. Bat seems to have thrived on the same formula that's made Andrew Lloyd Webber a multimillionaire knight: if you do kitsch, do it big. And what could be more kitschy and emblematic of the '70s than the ubiquitous "classic rock" (an overused adjective that applies all too well here) of "Two out of Three Ain't Bad" or the breathless nookie-quest, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," replete with Phil Rizzuto calling the play-by-play? This digitally remastered edition also includes '78-vintage bonus live cuts of "Bolero" (the live show's equally over-the-top opener) and "Bat out of Hell" that showcase the production's energetic, perfectionist bent. The sonic upgrading here also underscores the oft-overlooked efforts of producer Todd Rundgren. --Jerry McCulley
Top Customer Reviews
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 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?
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.