In rock n’ roll, it doesn’t get bigger than Meat Loaf, or his grandiose 1977 classic “Bat Out of Hell.”
The damned album is just huge. Some say it’s over the top. For it to be over the top would imply (to my mind) that those who put it together were some how out of control. And that’s certainly not the case here.
Melding the Ronnie Spector-influenced Wall of Sound Bruce Springsteen applied to “Born To Run” (and prominently featuring the services of E Street drummer Max Weinberg and keyboardist Roy Bittan) with the melodrama of an opera libretto, Mr. Loaf (as my father always jokingly called him), composer Jim Steinman and producer Todd Rundgren combined to make one of the greatest albums of the ’70s.
Beginning with the 10 minute opener of the title track, through “You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth” and its “On a hot summer night, will you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses” intro (OK, that part’s over the top, but with a serious wink), through Heaven Can Wait, and the devastating one-two punch of “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” it offered up the type of theatrical rock and roll exposition on young love and lust that have made “Rent” one of the most popular Broadway shows of all time and paved the way for Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge.”
Poor Scooter. The 85 year old Hall Of Fame Yankee shortstop and long time voice of the pinstripes, one of the sweetest men you ever will meet, had no idea what he was getting into when he recorded his memorable play-by-play for “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.” He’s still mortified when reminded how his “line shot up the middle” “he’s gonna try for second” and “Holy cow, I think he’s gonna make it” were co-opted to provide the most brazen double-entendres about teenage lust ever put on vinyl.
Andrew Lloyd Weber got knighted for writing a lifetime of far worse songs than these. Meat Loaf’s reward? From 19 months straight on top of the charts, to wearing man boobs as Big Bob Paulson in “Fight Club.”
The album has been reissued, with a couple of bonus tracks (the link below is not the most recent reissue, but it is a remastered version). Everyone should own it. There’s nothing else quite like it (except, unfortunately, for Bat Out Of Hell II).