Bat out of Hell – one of the finest rock and roll albums ever by Meat Loaf, may he RIP

I woke up to the news that Marvin Lee Aday had passed away. Better known as Meal Loaf, he was behind some of the most innovative rock and roll music. Here is a reprise of an old post to honor him and his Magnum Opus.

When you read this title, you may do a few double takes if you are unfamiliar with the music or the performer. Who is Meat Loaf and why should I listen to such an odd titled album? Yet, “Bat Out of Hell” is end to end one of the finest rock albums to which I have ever listened. And, it almost did not get promoted due to its theatrical set of songs during the Disco era. Did I tell you Meal Loaf, (Marvin Lee Aday) could belt out a song like few others?

Per Wikipedia, “‘Bat Out of Hell‘ is the 1977 debut album by American rock singer Meat Loaf and composer Jim Steinman. It was developed from a musical, Neverland, a futuristic rock version of Peter Pan, which Steinman wrote for a workshop in 1974. The album was recorded during 1975–1976 at various studios… produced by Todd Rundgren, and released in October 1977 by Cleveland International/Epic Records. Its musical style is influenced by Steinman’s appreciation of Richard Wagner, Phil Spector, Bruce Springsteen and The Who. Bat Out of Hell has spawned two Meat Loaf sequel albums:…Bat Out of Hell is one of the best-selling albums of all time, having sold over 50 million copies worldwide. It is certified 14x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.”

Every song on the album has its own merits.. The songs tend to focus on young love, angst, passion et al along with some adult realizations the song characters figure out along the way. The song that was the biggest hit off the album is not its best song, but is pretty darn good – “Two out of three ain’t bad.” One reason others did not get played as much as singles is their length – the songs each told stories. Let me highlight three of the songs.

Two out of three ain’t bad – the chorus tells an all too familiar story about lust and love, but there is more to the song than that.

“…And maybe you can cry all night
But that’ll never change the way that I feel
The snow is really piling up outside
I wish you wouldn’t make me leave here

I poured it on and I poured it out
I tried to show you just how much I care
I’m tired of words and I’m too hoarse to shout
But you’ve been cold to me so long
I’m crying icicles instead of tears

And all I can do is keep on telling you
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
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad”

If you focus on the chorus, you miss out that the lead character tried to make it work. What I also like is the song is sung in first person, so it is not gender specific. This could easily be a woman singing about a man or even someone who does not identify as either.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light – is the best song, in my view. It tells a story and involves in the recording Ellen Foley, who is much tinier than Meat Loaf, but whose voice can match his needed gravitas for this passionate song. And, when I say passionate, I mean two kinds – lust and eventually spite. I would add that talented Karla DeVito is seen in live performances, but the original recorded voice is Foley’s. Here are a few snippets.

“I remember every little thing
As if it happened only yesterday
Parking by the lake
And there was not another car in sight
And I never had a girl
Looking any better than you did
And all the kids at school
They were wishing they were me that night
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife.”

This sets the stage, but the song describes what happens by the dashboard light using a famous baseball announcer for the New York Yankees, Phil Rizzutto. You hear Rizzuto’s voice as he broadcasts a game with the muffled foreplay going on in the background. To me, the best part of the song is when Foley’s character stands her ground and asks for a pledge of love.

“Stop right there!
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further!
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?”

From there, I will leave it to your imagination, but the ending is worth the wait..

Bat Out of Hell – is also a story telling song as a lover leaves town, but the regret seems to drive him to be careless on the road. There are some lyrics my wife does not care for in the song as they are gruesome, but the song is vintage rock and roll.

“…Oh baby, you’re the only thing in this whole world
That’s pure and good and right
And wherever you are and wherever you go
There’s always gonna be some light”.

But I gotta get out
I gotta break it out now
Before the final crack of dawn
So we gotta make the most of our one night together
When it’s over you know
We’ll both be so alone

Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes
When the night is over
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone, gone, gone
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.”

Two other songs which are also strong are “All revved up and no place to go” and “You took the words right out of my mouth.”

Give this album a try. When I read those lists of greatest albums, this one usually makes a top twenty list. It is different. It is excellent, if you are a rock and roller.

Note two sidebars: Meat Loaf appeared in the movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in a small but pivotal role and Ellen Foley is also known for being on the comedy TV show “Night Court” with Harry Anderson.

24 thoughts on “Bat out of Hell – one of the finest rock and roll albums ever by Meat Loaf, may he RIP

  1. Note to Readers: For a couple of years after touring with his first album, Meat Loaf lost his voice. It was probably due to his singing every song full tilt. This is a key reason there was a time lag between albums. If you ever see footage of him singing, he is usually worn out at the end of a set.

  2. Pingback: #HitsByYears – 1983 – Share Your Light

  3. Thank you again for suggesting to add a Meatloaf song to my post. I got to know some more really good songs of another legend. May he rock on in heaven.

  4. Oh I’m sad now. It’s been announced (by his daughter) that he died of Covid and that he was anti-mandates. Still sad. I watched a number of his old videos today – loved him. He was truly amazing (as was Karla DeVito). May he Rest In Peace.

      • Becky, I read a piece on what you said. It makes you sad when anyone dies as a result of a poor decision. He even said if not taking the vaccine ends up killing me, so be it. Well, it did. Keith

  5. The first time I ever saw Meatloaf was in a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show where they soaked me with their squirt guns and pelted me with toast. I didn’t get the joke when the characters on the screen were eating him until someone explained that his name was Meatloaf.

  6. Note to Readers: I have told the story before, but Meat Loaf and Steinman had difficulty in getting the “Bat out of Hell” album released and promoted. The story I read is Meat Loaf performed some songs at a conference of radio managers, along with other performers, including Billy Joel. Joel advocated for the release of the album as he saw the ingenuity behind it.

  7. Until the last couple of years, I thought Meat Loaf was a band rather than a single artist! I was saddened on Thursday to learn of his death and will reprise one of my previous posts in honour of Meat Loaf. Thanks for the reminder, Keith!

  8. Definitely a legend. Not only a powerful singer but a great entertainer. Also a streak of self-deprecating humour.
    During one interview he was reflecting on the time when fame ‘plateaus’. He said, referencing his build and presence he could say to someone ‘Don’t’ and they would reply, overwhelmed and hands up ‘Sure. Ok,’. He then added
    ‘Now, when I say. ‘Don’t’. They say, Why?’

  9. Pingback: ♫ Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad ♫ (R.I.P. Meat Loaf) | Filosofa's Word

  10. Note to Readers Addendum: I just watched a documentary on the making of “Bat out of Hell.” A few takeaways:
    -Jim Steinman is a songwriting genius
    -Todd Rungren is a heckuva guitarist and innovative producer (the motorcycle in the title song is all guitar)
    -Meat Loaf sang in character on each song
    -The album took off in Australia and Great Britain first
    -Meat Loaf did sing his voice out performing too frequently
    -The album was turned down by everyone before it was given a chance
    -Ellen Foley elected not to do the tour, so Karla DeVito stepped in; however, the voice on the video is Foley’s not DeVito’s.

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