Bat Out of Hell, by Meat Loaf
Suggested by Neil Hodgkinson
k.d. lang is a voracious advocate for animal rights.
She’s a figurehead for vegetarianism, and her “Meat Stinks” campaign in the Nineties caused much controversy, especially in her cattle-centric hometown in Alberta: she was banned from more than thirty Alberta radio stations.
Once, at an awards bash, Meat Loaf and Jon Bon Jovi spotted k.d. lang at another table. Meat Loaf was a self-professed fan at the time, and told JBJ that he’d love to meet the ol’ langster. JBJ enquired with k.d. as to whether such a meetup would be cool, to which k.d. lang said “No. His name is Meat Loaf.”
I’m all for saving the non-tasty animals, k.d., but there’s no need to be an arse about it. Here’s a quid, go buy yourself a shift key.
Marvin Lee Aday, vegetarian from 1981 to 1992, attained the nickname Meat Loaf on the American Football field as a jab at his weight from the coach. He parlayed this name into his first band, Stoney and Meat Loaf, and the rest is musical history. He’s a chequered character who’s lived a phenomenal life, and, with worldwide sales of over eighty million records, he’s a legitimate legend and one of the most successful recording artists of all time.
Sitting at number three on the list of Bestselling Albums of All Time, Bat Out of Hell is a forty-six minute classic. Released in 1977, it’s operatic rock at its symphonic and overblown best, with seven hugely theatrical numbers that I’m sure most folk here could rattle off in a heartbeat. Bat Out of Hell, You Took the Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, Paradise by the Dashboard Light… all stone-cold bangers, full of pomp and bluster and extravagance and theatre, accented with Meat Loaf’s powerful yet tremulous voice that’s immediate, iconic, and perfectly pitched and performed.
Interestingly, this alum was originally a hard pitch to record companies, many of which turned it down flat. Songwriter Jim Steinman and performer Meat Loaf recorded the album in 1975, and spent two whole years peddling it across America with minimal success. When it finally did gain a release, it was minimal and under-promoted. It eventually picked up a spark in the UK and Australia, before going on to be the uncool, unfashionable, non-radio-friendly powerhouse that everyone had to own.
Every single song on the album is ludicrous, from the classic car crash standout title track Bat Out of Hell to the hilariously sub-erotic lycanthropy tropes in You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth and beyond, it’s a riotous, ridiculous over-indulgent mess.
While its legacy is diminished somewhat by lacklustre sequels, Bat Out of Hell is a glorious masterpiece of high camp musical theatre, to be taken with a huge pinch of salt and a tongue firmly in cheek. Unlike k.d. lang, I don’t take everything so damn seriously, and I give the once-vegetarian Meat Loaf a fine 8/10.