Bat Out Of Hell
Cleveland International/Epic PE 34974
Released: October 1977
Chart Peak: #14
Weeks Charted: 82
Certified 4x Platinum: 11/24/86
Meat Loaf earned his somewhat eccentric name as a performer in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the theatrical torture, although he had previously spent several years as a rock singer in Detroit, even recording a single or two for Motown. Bat Out of Hell reflects such diversity, but can't resolve it. Meat Loaf has an outstanding voice, but his phrasing is way too stage-struck to make the album's pretentions to comic-book street life real. He needs a little less West Side Story and a little more Bruce Springsteen.
Jim Steinman, who wrote an arranged the entire album, needs a lot less of both. Some of the songs here, particularly "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth," are swell, but they are entirely mannered and derivative. Steinman is wordy, and his attempts to recapture adolescence are only remembrances; he can't bring out the transcendently personal elements that make a song like "Night Moves," an obvious influence here. The arrangements aren't bad, although they play into the hammiest of Meat Loaf's postures, and the playing is excellent, led by pianist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg of Springsteen's E Street Band and producer Todd Rundgren's guitars. But the principals have some growing to do.
- Dave Marsh, Rolling Stone, 12/29/77.
It has been well over two years since we last heard any new music from Bruce Springsteen. That upsets a lot of people, me included, but apparently Meat Loaf and his partner Jim Steinman are absolutely devastated over the Bard of Asbury Park's extended silence. So devastated, in fact, that they hired a couple of guys from Bruce's band, got perennial overreacher Todd Rundgren to whip up a neo-Spector production that is the aural equivalent of D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, and then wrote a bunch of rather fevered songs that bear a faint resemblance to Springsteen's stuff. Of course, they have absolutely none of the passion of the originals. Mr. Loaf, a cult figure in New York because of his performance in the inexplicably popular film version of "The Rocky Horror Show," sings all this stuff in an obnoxious "legit" Broadway voice and generally sounds silly ranting on about the streets, while the sonic din that surrounds him is so overblown that I can only describe it as Maximalism. Just what we needed.
- Steve Simels, Stereo Review, 4/78.
- Billboard, 1977.
Meat Loaf's high-energy, high-sales Bat Out of Hell comes over very limply from Compact Disc. The original mix had its problems though that didn't stop the LP from entering the record books as the longest-charting album.
Its thin and distant sound comes up no cleaner on CD; the medium making very little more of producer Todd Rundgren's compressed two-dimensional sound picture than was heard from LP. Even Rundgren's "motorbike" guitar in the title track, with its potential for frightening sonics, hits the speakers with all the impact of a wet rag. Drum sound, too, is flat. Meat Loaf's stage experience in "Hair" and his acting in the film The Rocky Horror Picture Show pays off in the "plotted" song "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" -- almost a teenage mini-opera -- performed here with the explosive vocal talents of Ellen Foley. Only replay at above average levels saves the epic Jim Steinman/Meat Loaf songs from being a total disappointment.
- David Prakel, Rock 'n' Roll on Compact Disc, 1987.
Meat Loaf's powerful, passionate voice serves as the messenger for Jim Steinman's over-the-top rock songs, which treat teenage angst in practically Wagnerian terms, while Todd Rundgren provides a clean, well-articulated Wall of Sound production in this kitsch masterpiece, which includes "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." * * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
At a time when rock 'n' roll had reached its bloated, bloodless nadir with the unholy trilogy of Styx, Kansas and Supertramp, Meat Loaf and songwriter Jim Steinman screamed onto the charts with 1977's Bat Out of Hell. Fueled by shameless bombast and backseat bravado, they ovvered emotion-starved, hormone-driven teenagers salvation in the form of operatic, Springsteen-derived mini-dramas. Featuring such sweat-soaked anthems as "Paradise By the Dashboard Light," "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" and "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," Bat Out of Hell holds up remarkably well. Audiophiles may want to splurge on the gold Master Sound reissue, which indeed adds some much-needed definition to Todd Rundgren's dense production. * * *
- David Okamoto, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
Meat Loaf's career had been peripheral until this 1978 monster. He appeared in Hair, Jim Steinman's Broadway hit More Than You Deserve, and more famously as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. So, naturally perhaps, Bat Out Of Hell began as a possible musical although after pulling Todd Rundgren in as producer, Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf began to concentrate on a rock album. Steinman wrote songs to suit that grandiose voice; every track would be a showstopper. The songs, "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth," "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" kept the album in the charts for the next 82 weeks in the US and the next eight years in the UK.
- Collins Gem Classic Albums, 1999.
An epic story of teenage lust, this motor-vatin' roadtrip-worthy rock opera is driven by racing rhythms and Todd Rundgren's bombastic production. Brassy, brash and over the top, this meatloaf and potatoes of any collection brought dramatic performances to light through the poignant, funny songs of Jim Steinman and showmanship of Meat Loaf, this genre's Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. * * * *
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
Meat Loaf's megaselling, megabombastic breakthrough was written by pianist Jim Steinman, who'd intended the material for a new version of Peter Pan. This is one of rock's most theatrical, grandiose records, yet Loaf brings real emotion to "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."
Bat Out of Hell was chosen as the 343rd greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
Meat Loaf's powerful, uncompromising voice and Jim Steinman's Wagnerian rock epics created the perfect storm to turn Bat Out Of Hell into one of the biggest-selling debut albums of all time. Emerging from a Steinman musical set in the future around the story of Peter Pan, the album is practically in a category all by itself, scaling almost operatic heights on the likes of the near 10-minute title track and "Paradise By The Dashboard Light."
Such was the ambition of the project that it took four years from its inception to finally earn a release, having been rejected along the way by several record executives before winning finance from a label owned by musician Todd Rundgren, who ended up producing the album. Rundgren, who plays guitar on the record, is the vital third ingredient with a production providing the ideal setting for Steinman's overblown ideas and Meat Loaf's dramatic delivery.
As of 2004, Bat Out Of Hell was the #9 best-selling album of the 70s.
- Hamish Champ, The 100 Best-Selling Albums of the 70s, 2004.
The combination of Meat Loaf (real name Marvin Lee Aday), a larger-than-life actor from Texas with an operatic voice, his surreal songwriting friend from New York, Jim Steinman, and producer Todd Rundgren resulted in an album that, despite never topping the UK album chart, resided there on and off for nearly ten years. Using backing musicians such as Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band plus members of Rundgren's group Utopia, Bat Out Of Hell included three hit singles (the title track, "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth [Hot Summer Night]" and "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad"), which, much like most of the album, were appropriately epic proportions (the fourth label which had been involved in the project).
Several extraordinary video clips promoted the album, and "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," a story of lust in a car, included a commentary by Phil Rizzuto on events, which he likened to a baseball game. The songs on the album were written by Steinman for his musical Neverland, a futuristic rock version of Peter Pan, in which Meat Loaf would play the part of Tinkerbell (when asked, he did not deny it, other than to say the character would be called Tink).
For some, the real stars of this brilliantly over-the-top extravaganza were the songs, the work of Jim Steinman's highly disturbed, but extremely imaginative mind; Steinman later wrote big hit songs for Bonnie Tyler ("Total Eclipse Of The Heart"), Barry Manilow ("Read 'Em And Weep") and Celine Dion ("It's All Coming Back To Me Now"), among others. But those tracks have never inspired the affection aroused by this high-camp metal musical extravaganza.
- John Tobler, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.
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