"Braver Than We Are (Savoy; 2016)

Reviewed by Snidermann

In 1977, Meat Loaf (Michael 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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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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Copyright © 2016 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.