By virtue of constant touring following it’s 1977 release,
Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” album became a top seller.
Eventually, it would sell over 30 million copies, edging out
the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack from the number one
spot on the charts in Australia. It was the brainchild of
songwriter Jim Steinman (1947 – ) who befriended and
agreed to write songs for Meat Loaf, after watching
This album was the subject of yet another Classic Albums
installment that I recently watched on DVD. Here, I learned
the story behind this improbable “hit,” as told by various key
people, including Meat Loaf (born as Marvin Lee Aday in 1947),
Jim Steinman and Todd Rundgren, who not only played guitar
on the album but also produced it. Rundgren (1948 – ) and
Meat Loaf isolated certain tracks at the mixing console, while
Steinman played the music at the piano. “Bat Out of Hell”
backup vocalists, Karla DeVito and Ellen Foley were
“Bat Out of Hell” has been categorized as “Operatic Rock,”
or “Theatrical Rock,” and it’s easy to hear why. Meat Loaf’s
performances were reminiscent of his work in the onstage and
film versions of the “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which
predated the album’s release. The lyrics of the songs are
largely the stuff of teen fantasies—or perhaps I should say
they’re on subjects geared to the adolescent psyche.
While they weren’t strictly autobiographical, Steinman
admitted that the song topics were based upon subjects
that were on his mind. The title cut concerns the ultimate
motorcycle crash, and features Rundgren creating engine
sound effects on guitar. There weren’t many albums like
“Bat Out of Hell,” and I suppose it has a unique place in history.
Personally, the songs didn’t do much for me. Although performed
with good intentions that were realized, I found the music
to be somewhat “trite and schlocky,” and more interesting
as a musical snapshot of the late 1970’s. Also, I was not
overly impressed with the frequently noted “power” of
Meat Loaf’s voice. However, I do agree with Steinman and
Rundgren that the inherent humor in the lyrics saves the music.
It also featured nice cover art, and I guess that’s saying something.
At a running time of 58 minutes, with a printed biography and
discography as the only additional features, this 1999 release
from Image Entertainment is possibly the shortest Classic Albums
installment that I’ve seen. Nevertheless, I’m still glad that
I watched it, because I was able to form a clear opinion
about this admittedly “classic” album.