"Braver Than We Are (Savoy; 2016)

Reviewed by Snidermann

In 1977, Meat Loaf (Marvin Lee Aday) and partner Jim Steinman developed, arranged and performed their way into rock'n'roll history with "Bat Out Of Hell." Many record companies rejected the record; they said it was "too over the top" and didn't fit their formulas for what they considered hits. Well, we all know what happened there -- it became one of the best selling recordings of all time. That was when I started listening to Meat Loaf and I have never stopped.

A lot of Meat Loaf albums have been recorded and released since then, some of them with Jim Steinman and some without. And Steinman has worked without Meat Loaf as well. Most people will tell you, however, that the chemistry of the two is what makes the true Meat Loaf sound.

Now, in 2016, the latest and perhaps last collaboration between these two giants has been released: "Braver Than We Are." And as much as I wanted to love this album, I have to call it as I see it. The fact is that Meatís voice is not what it used to be. Like everyone else, he is getting older and his voice shows that in this recording. It's not that he's weaker here, it's just that you can tell he's working harder. The good news is that, instead of over-producing and tweaking the vocals to make them stronger, the producer has done just the opposite: make Meatís vocals raw and real. In almost every other case that would be a bad thing but, in this case, the current vocal style of Meat Loaf and the songs that come from Jim Steinman combine once again to make a very different but equally majestic Meat Loaf album.

"Braver Than We Are" has epically long songs from start to finish and that has been a signature of Jimís since the classic "Paradise By The Dashboard Lights" (at 9 minutes 59 seconds) and Bat Out Of Hell (8 minutes 55 seconds). The songs range from operatic ballads to balls-out rockers. Just when you think things have gone too slow, they push the pedal to the metal and things pipe up again. Like the albums that proceed it, "Braver Than We Are" is art and that means that some of us will like it and some of us won't. Me? I've been a fan since the very first and once again I'm awarding this album a strong 4 guitarsaws.

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"Hang Loose Teddy Bear" (Roadrunner; 2010)

Reviewed by Snidermann

A few years ago Meat Loaf announced his retirement from music. That came as a shock and surprise to me. So I was overjoyed when I heard he was releasing a new recording and then was slightly disappointed when I found out that Jim Steinman wasn't going to have anything to do with it. He and Meat were the driving forces behind the extremely successful Bat Out Of Hell trilogy.

The name of the new recording is "Hang Loose Teddy Bear," based on a short story by screenwriter Kilian Kerwin. Writing credits on the CD include Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child and Kara DioGuardi (from American Idol). The guests here are Kara DioGuardi, Jack Black, Patti Russo. TV's "House," Hugh Laurie, even plays piano on one track and Brian May and Steve Vai lend their guitar talent to the recording.


"Hang Loose Teddy Bear" is fun and very entertaining and, even though I did not follow the storyline (at least the first few times through), Meat put out a great recording and one he can be proud of. Not only does Meat Loaf (aka Marvin Lee Aday) have a magical talent in front of a microphone, but he also has a unique ability to a line himself up with extremely talented people in order to make his musical dream a reality.

I for one an tremendously happy he did not retire and I know there is a whole Meat Loaf universe of fans out there that are just as thrilled as I am.

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"Bat Out of Hell: The Original Tour" (Eagle Vision; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell" show is arguably one of rock's greatest. The stunning vocalist delivered a bigger-than-life performance, eventually at the cost of his own voice, that left audiences gasping and begging for more.

This DVD captures that original show in 1978 when Meat performed for Germany's Rockpalast TV series. Although the audio and video may pale in comparison to today's fully-digital, computer-enhanced releases (it is over thirty years old, after all), Meat Loaf's performance is nothing short of breathtaking. He sounds great, he's one with the music and the on-stage energy still spills out of the screen, over three decades later.

From a historical point of view, the show is priceless, featuring "Bat Out of Hell" songwriter Jim Steinman on piano and some narrated segues and Karla DeVito, who appeared on the original "Bat" album, belting it out note-for-note with the big man. There's also an interview from the era, conducted by a German reporter and it's interesting to watch Meat Loaf and Steinman's chemistry, especially considering the love/hate relationship they would share for years afterward.

Is this the best Meat Loaf DVD out there? Probably not. It's hampered by the technology of the times. Is it something every Meat Loaf fan should see? Absolutely. Even if you were lucky to catch Meat Loaf live back in the day, this video record will remind you of greatnesses long forgotten.

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"The Very Best Of Meat Loaf" (Epic Records; 1998)meatloafbest.jpg (12907 bytes)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Ever since his appearance in the "Rocky Horror Picture Show," Marvin Lee Aday has been a favorite of the public. Of course, we all know him as Meat Loaf. Mr. Loaf was the voice we all heard on Ted Nugent's classic "Free For All" album. His "Bat Out of Hell" went on to sell a bazillion records and still rides high on the catalog sales charts. And - after a few rough patches during which he declares he was "learning to sing," - Meat Loaf recorded and released a "Bat Out of Hell" follow-up that exploded to the top sales position and re-established him as an important rock'n'roll singer.

This two CD set is a celebration of the Voice and Sound that are Meat Loaf. It's a set packed to the gills with music - the average song length is about 7 minutes and there are 18 songs. It begins with a bizarre yet strangely appropriate ditty newly written for Meat Loaf by "Phantom of the Opera" songmaster Andrew Lloyd Webber and longtime Meat Loaf collaborator Jim Steinman. Following are the big Meat Loaf hits, including "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," "Heaven Can Wait," "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are," a remix of "Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back" and, closing the set of course, "Bat Out of Hell." In addition to the Lloyd Webber song are two additional new songs - "Is Nothing Sacred," written by Steinman. Finally, there's "A Kiss is a Terrible Thing to Waste," another Lloyd Webber/Steinman song, this one from the musical production "Whistle Down the Road."

Any Meat Loaf collection is incomplete without "The Very Best of Meat Loaf" on their shelf. It's a spectacular review of the career of a true rock'n'roll legend.

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"Bat Out of Hell 2: Back Into Hell" (Geffen Records; 1993)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Jim Steinman learned a very important lesson with the 1977 release of "Bat Out Of Hell." Songs with long durations play like a movie to the listener. There were two songs on the first "Bat" release that were ten minutes and eight minutes respectively.

Fast forward sixteen years to the Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman release of "Bat Out Of Hell 2: Back Into Hell." On this long-awaited ablum, the songs are much longer, more involved and frankly better than any two- or three- minute track of most recordings. The duo didn't have the power to do that in the first release but selling forty million copies of a record gives you a load of leeway when it comes to writing songs and putting out the album you want.

So epic story songs have become a staple of the Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman game book. The classic song "I Would Do Anything for Love," played like a bitch on MTV. There are songs on this recording that are part of my musical lexicon: "Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)," "Object In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are," "Wasted Youth," "Everything Louder Than Everything Else," "Lost Boys And Golden Girls." Actually, epic only begins to define them.

This recording is the apex of two extremely talented people, making the music they want, the way they want to. Simply one of the best recordings ever. Donít get me wrong: I don't love every single song on this release but the ones I do, I totally dig.

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"Dead Ringer" (Epic Records; 1981)

Reviewed by Snidermann

It broke my heart when I heard that songwriter/wordsmith and the mind behind larger-than-life operatic rock, Jim Steinman, had died. Then, a bit later, Marvin Lee Aday, ADA Meat Loaf, had also died. I realized then and there that the end of a legendary rock music duo was silenced forever.

I grew up listening, studying, observing and dissecting each note of this duo's music for most of my life. I can remember the first time I ever listened to "Bat Out of Hell." I was like 15 and when I heard "Bat Out of Hell," I was instantly hooked. Never before had a singer and songwriter reached into my soul and played the music that resided there.

All these years  later,  I realized that there was a Steinman/Meat Loaf collaboration that I had not witnessed: "Dead Ringer." I figured now was the time for me to put some review ink on this music.

"Dead Ringer" came out in 1981 and, frankly, I was a bit busy being in the military to take much notice. The music is loaded with Jim and Meat's unique take on musical phrasing, texture and plot lines. Hooks o' plenty are abundant throughout. This music ranks right up there with the rest of their musical collaborations. The plot lines are larger than life. There is a duet at the end of the recording with Meat and Cher that blew me right away.

Let me go off track a bit and talk about the influence of Jim Steinman on modern music. He had written songs for Bonnie Tyler ("Total Eclipse of the Heart,") Air Supply ("Making Love Out of Nothing At All,") Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow, just to name a few. He was simply a national treasure and I know my life is better because I have listened to the music that man has written.

If you like the "Bat Out of Hell" releases, I think you will enjoy this.

RIP, friends, your music will never be forgotten.

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"Bat Out of Hell" (Epic Records; 1977)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I e-mailed my friend and Rough Edge Editor R. Scott Bolton and it said: "Dude, I see no reviews for any of Meat Loaf's 'Bat Out Of Hell' releases.Ē He replied saying "That is an issue which much be rectified." So here we go:

Actually, this is more of a musical history lesson than a review so please bear with me. In 1977, two friends--Marvin Lee Aday (aka Meat Loaf ... always, always two words) and Jim Steinman--got together to write an album. They peddled their music to every record company on the planet and were met with a resounding wall of "NO!" They said the songs were too long, that Meat Loaf couldn't sing, that Steinman couldn't write hits. But the pair were not to be denied. They continued to pitch their album and, finally, in 1977, their musical dream finally came true. At first, "Bat Out of Hell" didn't smash any records. It sold only modestely. However, Saturday Night Live's John Belushi (a huge fan of music) and Gilda Radner solicited to get Meat Loaf on the program for months. Finally, on March 25, 1978 Meat Loaf and band appeared on Saturday Night Live. Then as the saying goes, the flood gates opened.

Since it first premiered back in 1977, "Bat Out of Hell" has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. In an interview, Meat said the album sells about 40,000 to 50,000 copies a year. So that's our history lesson. Now let's get to the music.

The opening cut is the title track and it is a nine minutes and fifty-one second magum opus that changes musical styles on a dime and yet keep the music rocking throughout. As far as I'm concerned, the music just gets better as the album progresses. Each song plays like a mini play or movie. All you have to do is let yourself go and the music will take you places unlike any recording I have ever heard. Even after decades of listening to this recording, it never gets old or dull. The music is as alive and vibrant today as it was in the 70s and I don't see it going out of style anytime soon. The track listing goes like this:
- Bat Out of Hell

- 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 Ainít Bad. Personally, I donít it's the best song on the release, but I think this got more radio play at the time.
- Paradise By The Dashboard Light. Note: Another 8+ minute song that is played today on FM radio as much as it was in the 70s! Go to YouTube and check out Meat Loaf and Karla Devito doing this recording live as it was in the 70s. (Ellen Foley did the original vocals on the album but Karla sang it on tour.) They did everything except have sex on stage every night! The chemistry is there and it shows. This song is loud and in your face and it also has the late great New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto doing a baseball play-by-play that is very funny.
- For Crying Out Loud. In Meat Loafís own word, he thinks this is the best love song ever written.

As I list the cuts of this recording, I am taken back to when I first listened to the recording ... on vinyl, no less. The album cover was very cool and featured art work by Heavy Metal artist Richard Corben. Very uber ultra cool. And the great Todd Rundgren produced the ablum as well as played guitar and provided vocals on a few tracks.

The rest of the band are: Roy Bittan, piano; Ellen Foley - backing vocals; Kasim Sulton - bass and Max Weinberg - drums. Yes, that Max Weinberg: drummer for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and for Conan OíBrien and also the father of Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg.

This is one of the few recordings I have bought in every format available: I've had the vinyl, the 8-track tape (yes, 8-track), audio cassette, CD and digital form. Whatever they release it on next, I'll buy that, too. "Bat Out of Hell" plays like a soundtrack to my life. Each song can be traced to an event in my life that is of at least some significance. Truth be told, there are not many recordings that I feel that way about. There is one song that coincides to my life in a stunning manner but allow me to keep that to myself. Suffice to say that it did the first time I listened to it and, frankly, it still does.

As I said before, this music is timeless. It's as revelent today in 2019 as ist was in 1977. To say "Bat Out of Hell" is one of my favoriate releases of all time is quite an understatement. It's like trying to compare the Mona Lisa to other paintings, to compare a 1965 Selby Mustang to just another car, to pick between which of my chldren I love more. It just cannot and should not be done. Let us just say that "Bat Out Of Hell" is simply one of the best written, performed and produced recordings of all time and letís keep it at that.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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