Freddie Matthews writes from London: If this were a review about the original 1977 vinyl album, then I’d end here and now before I’ve even started with a big fat and perfect 10 out of 10. In fact, in true Spinal Tap fashion, I’d probably even increase the rock ’n’ roll scale to 11 out of 11.
Alas, this isn’t a review about the original October 1977, written and composed by Jim Steinman, produced by Todd Rundgren, released by Cleveland International Records (a subsidiary of Epic Records), 43 million selling Bat Out Of Hell album by Meat Loaf. Instead, what we unfortunately have here is another blatant excuse to bleed the record-buying public dry of yet more cash with a so-called ‘Special Edition’. REALLY? The money-grabbing bast..ds!
There’s no denying the fact that Bat Out Of Hell is one of the most influential and iconic albums ever produced. In the last 36 years it hasn’t aged, it’s timeless, unpigeonholeable (I made that word up just for this album) and if you didn’t actually know the year the album was first released, I think you’d be hard pushed to guess accurately. Jim Steinman had been working on the Bat Out Of Hell theme for five years before the album was released. It was only because of a lucky break in the form of support and belief from multi-instrumentalist Todd Rundgren, who eventually produced and paid for a lot of the studio time recording the album, that it even made it into production. Then once completed a further two years went by until Meat and Jim managed to get a record deal for the debut album. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I bet the numerous labels that turned the project down have been kicking themselves for the missed opportunity for many decades since.
My issue with this new release is that this is Meat Loaf’s 10th compilation in some form including the material from this album and that’s just rude. Marvin Lee Aday, or Meat Loaf, is now 65 years old and on his ‘alleged’ final farewell tour, the LAST AT BAT tour. Yes, Bat Out Of Hell is an incredible album but 43 million people already have it. How many more do you want to sell? Stats already show that the album sells about 200,000 copies a year anyway, so why the re-release? Well, this version also includes a bonus DVD. How very exciting, I hear you think! Or maybe not. The Hits Out Of Hell DVD includes 12 of Meat Loaf’s best material, some live and some video, and that’s it. OK, there are three live bonus songs also on the CD but Meat Loaf sounds tired, bored of singing the same old songs for the last 30 odd years and his vocals are struggling at the best of times. Seriously, the legend lost his voice about 10 years ago and surrounds himself with young, sexy and talented backing singers to fill the vocal range he no longer has.
The fact that the CD packaging says ‘Special Edition’ is supposed to mean something here but it feels like another bland and predictable repackage.
Let’s face it, 65 or not, Meat Loaf has looked knackered and past it since the mid 80s. A sweating barrel of lard, salivating all over his hot and sexy female adversaries and spitting many of the words that he sings.
It really pisses me off that record companies ruin the legacy of many a classic album with re-releases, all in a bid to make another buck.
Then again it’s all great publicity for Meat Loaf’s farewell European tour, which in case you’re wondering starts in Newcastle upon Tyne on 5 April, with shows in England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, The Netherlands and Northern Ireland before ending in Dublin, Ireland, on 17 May.
They could have had some fun with this, apparently, final ever version and given the ‘Bat’ a Zimmer frame on the album artwork.