two out of three ain't bad
November 13, 2017 8:09 PM   Subscribe

What The Hell Explains Its Appeal? Of life’s great mysteries, surely among the most impenetrable is how Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf’s adolescent wet dream of an album that was released forty years ago today [October 21, 1977], came to be one of the best-selling albums in the history of the record industry, cracking the top five in some rankings, and out-selling nearly all the pillars of the rock canon. - Matt Fogelson

The Man Behind Meat Loaf, by Corey Atad
Songwriter Jim Steinman found his muse in the performer—and, forty years ago, they released their iconic, operatic rock album, Bat Out of Hell.
posted by the man of twists and turns (109 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
My guess is because of the frickin' deadly album cover.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:19 PM on November 13 [25 favorites]


I'm old.
posted by infini at 8:22 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]


Perhaps all those concussions have led him to black out and travel around the world purchasing copies of his own album.
posted by mannequito at 8:28 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Hey, it worked for Dave Pelzer.
posted by holborne at 8:30 PM on November 13


Try to wrap your head around Ellen Foley going on to star in Night Court for a year after this. And being far better than Markie Post ever was.
posted by fatbird at 8:33 PM on November 13 [13 favorites]


This was also one of Sony’s launch titles for Super Audio CD, um, one of my friends was telling me.
posted by hwyengr at 8:37 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Okay, but STREETS OF FIRE Y'ALL. ❤ Ellen Aim 5eva
posted by juv3nal at 8:42 PM on November 13 [13 favorites]


ALSO
(both Steinman joints btw)
posted by juv3nal at 8:44 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


Jim Steinman meets Andrew Eldritch.
posted by stannate at 8:50 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


Interesting stuff in that first link. There certainly are similarities to Springsteen's Born To Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:57 PM on November 13


1977 was a @#$% of a year... let's summarize:
Star Wars: A New Hope
Saturday Night Fever
Meat Loaf: A Bat Out of Hell
Apple II, Atari 2600 and Commodore PET (and the Cray I, but you can't afford it)
The Clash
Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols
The Eagles: Hotel California ("you can never leave")
Rocky
The Book of Lists
Roman Polanski's rape arrest
Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee
the first issues of Us Weekly and Heavy Metal magazines & Black Panther and Cerebus comics
Chia Pets
Debby Boone: You Light Up My Life (top selling single record of the year, no matter what anybody else did)
and Elvis Presley died on his toilet.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:04 PM on November 13 [41 favorites]


Like, seriously. It's a fucking awesome rock and roll album, full of the bombast and angst of older adolescence, and it's melodic as fuck, and it's really well performed.

Just because this one person is completely unwilling to believe the actual statistics being touted in the article and instead feels the need to rant against this album and how it might fit into the canon of rock and roll, doesn't mean they actually need to be listened to.

It's a fucking good album.
posted by hippybear at 9:13 PM on November 13 [44 favorites]


I will, however, mention in this thread (as I have in others), that I once attended a wedding where the bride/groom dance at the reception was to Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad and I still remain a bit speechless about this.
posted by hippybear at 9:20 PM on November 13 [22 favorites]


It's a great album. How can you not love songs like "Tribute, " Kielbasa", "Wonder Boy" and "Explosivo" ?
posted by happyroach at 9:23 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


I love it. I love Meatloaf's big sweaty body being flung about and the gorgeous voice passionately declaiming. It brings back certain adolescent memories, thank you very much, and I enjoy it. [I read somewhere his voice is a heldentenor, very rare. Not that he can sing like that any more.]
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:29 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


First of all, it’s just a good album, so there’s that. Steinman can bash some damn keys and write an enjoyable and catchy ditty, and Meat had some pipes.

Also, it’s musical theatre for bikers, and who likes musical theatre more than bikers? (But seriously, the Frazetta-esque van art, semi-swear title, and fat sweaty longhair singer named friggin’ Meat Loaf made it acceptably butch despite being possibly the most Broadway rock album ever produced. Oh, and Rundgren is right — those songs are hilarious. So, really, it can appeal to everyone for every reason, earnest or ironic or both.)

And the main thing is it that had two goes around. Once in the seventies, and once in the nineties, after the 1980s Steinman (who was hot off a bunch of huge hits)-Loaf (not so much) legal feud came to an end and some incredibly savvy marketing person at MCA decided to call their next album Bat Out of Hell Part II and promote the everloving crap out of it, instead of just shoving it out like another generic turd from a washed-up has-been. I’m sure the first one sold much, much better in the nineties as a companion to the second than it ever did the first time around. It doesn’t hurt that Part II came out just as everything 1970s was getting trendy again, and just as CD players were getting affordable and everyone was rebuying their old shit. Everyone who owned Part I and loved it bought it again, and their kids bought it too. Cf. ABBA Gold.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:33 PM on November 13 [15 favorites]


Please! Meat Loaf. First and last names.
posted by hippybear at 9:33 PM on November 13 [5 favorites]


In hindsight, I should have known rather quickly that a relationship with a girl who was obsessed with the song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" was not long for this world. Oh, high school.
posted by wierdo at 9:34 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Even as a kid when it came out, I thought it sounded more like a parody of a rock album, or some kind of fake rock album. Or a rock album the way the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack is a rock album. Like KISS, but different. Meatloaf is remarkable in that he's still memorable after all this time, pretty much for that one album. Somehow, he was able to come across compellingly enough at the time to make an indelible mark on pop culture.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:35 PM on November 13 [5 favorites]


pretty much for that one album

Well, also he was Eddie in Rocky Horror Picture Show.
posted by hippybear at 9:36 PM on November 13 [27 favorites]


I mean, the one fed the other, and vice versa.
posted by hippybear at 9:37 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


Two words: Phil Rizzuto.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:42 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


Well, also he was Eddie in Rocky Horror Picture Show.

pretty good in 'Roadie' by Alan Rudolph.
posted by ovvl at 9:50 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]



Well, also he was Eddie in Rocky Horror Picture Show.


He's had parts in several movies. But if his output were solely his acting, the most memorable thing about him would have been his goofy stage name. Bat Out of Hell is clearly his claim to fame.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:53 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Eddie's a... tender subject. Another slice anyone?
posted by kaibutsu at 9:54 PM on November 13 [32 favorites]


Being in RHPS and what that might have done for anyone's career wasn't really related to their particular acting performance in that particular film.
posted by hippybear at 9:57 PM on November 13


Sorry people who already feel old in this thread, I grew up listening to Bat Out of Hell as a child when my dad played it on long car trips, so I sort of didn't have a choice. Bat Out of Hell is like my family, indelibly a part of my psyche, loved even as it has made me feel guilty, or embarrassed to introduce it to polite company.
posted by colorblock sock at 10:19 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


Eddie's a... tender subject. Another slice anyone?

Awwwww, Mom, meat loaf for dinner again?
posted by Samizdata at 10:31 PM on November 13 [12 favorites]


He's had parts in several movies. But if his output were solely his acting, the most memorable thing about him would have been his goofy stage name. Bat Out of Hell is clearly his claim to fame.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:53 AM on November 14

His name is Robert Paulson.
posted by ZaphodB at 10:48 PM on November 13 [14 favorites]


His name is Robert Paulson!
posted by Sebmojo at 11:01 PM on November 13 [13 favorites]


More '77!

Space Invaders
Three's Company
Talking Heads
posted by lazycomputerkids at 11:28 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


[I read somewhere his voice is a heldentenor, very rare. Not that he can sing like that any more.]

I had to look this up - the term was introduced by Wagner for "heroic tenors". A vocal coach describes how rare it is to find one, and the challenges of coaching - as well as the short life of the voice. See "Why can't Meat Loaf Sing Any more".
posted by rongorongo at 12:15 AM on November 14 [15 favorites]


My guess is because of the frickin' deadly album cover.

I was around then, and I have this distinct memory in relation to this album: at least where I lived (Vancouver, Canada) it had a very aggressive and long-lived TV advertising campaign. And even as a young lad of maybe 9 or 10 years old, I remember thinking, "What kind of rock and roll needs a TV ad?!"
posted by Meatbomb at 12:42 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


IIRC from junior high days: Meatloaf meant what he said, and he was sexy as hell because he dared to actually look into the eyes of a woman in his video and SWEAT to prove he meant it.
posted by goofyfoot at 12:44 AM on November 14 [6 favorites]


Some people - not all of them, and certainly not a lot of music critics - love the epic rock song form, and Jim Steinman is a master at it (he also wrote "Total Eclipse of the Heart"). "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" is a gem of the genre; a karaoke DJ I worked with a long time ago told me it was a favorite of his because it was a crowd pleaser and he got to take a smoke break while it was playing. Being as subtle as a bag of hammers is a feature, not a bug. The song is properly enjoyed in exactly the same way that "Bohemian Rhapsody" is in the movie Wayne's World.
posted by graymouser at 12:46 AM on November 14 [10 favorites]


Please! Meat Loaf. First and last names.

Or as the New York Times refers to him: Mr. Loaf.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:00 AM on November 14 [11 favorites]




I introduced my then girlfriend to meatloaf when she found the cassette of Bat out of Hell kicking around with my other tapes in my car. I'd thrown all the tapes I owned in there, including the ones that I got and regretted within a week (I'm looking at you, 12 Inches of Snow). She fell in love with it. To the point that I had to institute a no Meatloaf policy for me driving her around. I actually asked her to take the tape. She did, after a while.

She now has two children. I wonder when I should send them the Bat out of Hell CD. I doubt they can play that cassette anymore.

I bear witness to the power of Meatloaf. I do not understand this power, but I have seen it. And I now know not to get anywhere near it if I value my sanity.
posted by Hactar at 1:45 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


I stole my older brother's 'Bat out of Hell' record and spent god knows how long playing it on my little portable record player in my room, painstakingly transcribing the lyrics by playing it for a few seconds and scribbling them in pencil into one of my school exercise books and then starting again. I must have driven my dad insane.

God, I loved that album. It's probably been about 35 years since I last listened to it.
posted by h00py at 2:11 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


This is the only album I've owned in "all" formats (LP, 8-Track, cassette, and CD). I've no memory of hearing it the first time - I learned it by cultural osmosis. I do believe it's nearly perfect.
posted by jzb at 2:50 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


I do believe it's nearly perfect.

This. I loved the album as a kid but hadn't listened to it in full in about 25 years until last summer when I streamed it on a whim during a very long drive - and I was AMAZED that I still knew every word by heart, and that it was still all as thrilling as ever it had been. It's all to do with how incredibly Meat Loaf sells that hokey narrative like it's literally the only story that ever need be told.

Yes, Steinman is a musical theatre genius but it's the sensitivity and power of the vocals that transform it from big-ass bombast to something truly transcendent. Honestly, if anyone is in doubt as to the appeal of this album, just crank up For Crying Out Loud to 11 and succumb to the glory.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:00 AM on November 14 [5 favorites]


1977 was a @#$% of a year...

Yes; that rather overexposed thing with Obi Wan Skywalker and the ewoks and Spock etc wasn't the only big sci-fi film released that year. There was arguably a finer one.
posted by Wordshore at 3:14 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


For anybody who sold the CD somewhere along the way, it’s on Prime Music. I know how I’m driving to work today.

Also, has anybody written as many certifiable karaoke hits as Jim Steinman? Just adding Total Eclipse of the Heart to the Meat Loaf stuff has to tip the scales in his favor.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:14 AM on November 14


they still play paradise on the classic rock stations around here - not real often, but i've heard it this year
posted by pyramid termite at 3:17 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Yes; that rather overexposed thing with Obi Wan Skywalker and the ewoks and Spock etc wasn't the only big sci-fi film released that year
This is how I'm supposed to know you're trolling me, right?
posted by Lame_username at 3:31 AM on November 14 [5 favorites]


Ellen Foley went on to record The Spirit of St. Louis with the Clash as her backup band during the Sandinista! sessions.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:32 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


a karaoke DJ I worked with a long time ago told me it was a favorite of his because it was a crowd pleaser and he got to take a smoke break while it was playing.

The one time I did PbtDbL at karaoke, the DJ jumped in with the Phil Rizzuto bridge.
posted by hwyengr at 3:44 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


When we were dating, my now-spouse played this album for me. It struck me as incredibly corny, especially "Paradise," which was like being transported into the hell of sex-pests, but 40 years ago. That song in particular is incel rock from the time before incels.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:51 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


The Classic Albums series about album production did an episode about Bat Out Of Hell, and it's one of the best of the series. If you can dig it up, it's very much worthwhile. Whether you like the album or not, the artists definitely achieved what they set out to do.
posted by MrVisible at 4:29 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Jim Steinman meets Andrew Eldritch.

Which is why post-First And Last And Always Sisters of Mercy is sometimes referred to as “Gothloaf”.
posted by acb at 4:39 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Jim Steinman meets Andrew Eldritch.

Floodland came out 30 years ago yesterday, in fact.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:41 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


My guess is because of the frickin' deadly album cover.

You know the distinction between doing things because one wants to do them and doing things because one wants to be the sort of person who does them? Bat Out Of Hell seems to be the ideal album for people who want to be the sort of person who's into heavy metal but don't actually like the sound of heavy metal itself, preferring it sounded more like 1950s rock'n'roll.
posted by acb at 4:42 AM on November 14 [9 favorites]


including the ones that I got and regretted within a week (I'm looking at you, 12 Inches of Snow).

I had to look up the artist to see whether my guess was correct, but reading this lightened my morning.

It also makes me want to have the opportunity to ask someone "Do you mean Meat Loaf questionable... or Snow questionable?"
posted by mr. digits at 4:56 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Check out Leap of Faith sometime. I mean he's a minor figure in the film, but it's a good movie, some of you may not be familiar with it, and who knows when we'll get to a better place from which to suggest it.
posted by Naberius at 4:58 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Marquee Moon came out in 1977.
Pink Flag too.

Bat out of Hell might be the cheesiest thing I've ever heard.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:06 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


12 Inches of Snow

Aaaaaand now I'm listening to deep cuts from this album on YouTube and it feels like I'm in middle school again. So thanks for that.

In Meat Loaf news, I did listen to Bat on the way to work this morning, and yeah, I had somehow forgotten that it's just pure, drippy fondue. In a good way.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:17 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


He talked about how there was nothing like it around at the time: Over-the-top, operatic, prodigiously long tracks - but I immediately think of Freddie Mercury and Queen, and then back to the rock operas of the early 1970s. There's definitely an appetite for singers of incredible energy who can belt out over-the-top tunes.
posted by clawsoon at 5:18 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


I will, however, mention in this thread (as I have in others), that I once attended a wedding where the bride/groom dance at the reception was to Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad and I still remain a bit speechless about this.

I dunno. I once went to a wedding where the theme was Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight." I shared a few beers and chuckles with a table-mate at the reception over that one.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:24 AM on November 14


That Richard Corben cover is sweet!
posted by gnuhavenpier at 5:30 AM on November 14


It’s a good article but I wish the author had investigated the phenomenon more instead of just wondering out loud about it.

Like him, I’m flabbergasted by the album’s continued success. Not because I think it’s bad—it’s great fun—but because, as the article notes, it’s just not an album that has an ongoing cultural presence. There are no notable covers, no iconic soundtrack appearances. I almost never hear any songs from it on classic rock radio. I don’t see kids in faux-vintage Meat Loaf t-shirts. It’s baffling that it still sells so many copies, and I’d love to read an article that digs into that.

For years I’ve suspected that the “one of the top-selling albums of all time” trivia was like a lot of popular factoids: technically true, but only if you squint at the numbers from the right angle and add a lot of asterisks and caveats to the claim. But no, the sales numbers seem to be legit (or at least as legit as music sales reporting gets).

I’d love to see some research that looks into how, on a practical level, it sold and continues to sell so many copies.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:32 AM on November 14 [5 favorites]


I attended not one but several weddings, and their accompanying receptions, during the time of Agadoo. As I can still feel the rage rising, even decades later, no further words.
posted by Wordshore at 5:33 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Boston music legend Rick Berlin had his own close call with Steinman; he had some involvement with the Neverland show where Meat Loaf got his break, and Karla DeVito played in an incarnation of Berlin’s 1970s rock musical project Orchestra Luna. Cleveland International wanted to sign Luna around the time Meat Loaf was breaking through, but their previous label refused to release them.

If you’re into Steinman, you might want to check out the Orchestra Luna album—it’s on YouTube but not as a playlist. ”Doris Dreams” is my favorite song on the album and is pretty representative of the album as a whole.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:50 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


For years I’ve suspected that the “one of the top-selling albums of all time” trivia was like a lot of popular factoids: technically true, but only if you squint at the numbers from the right angle and add a lot of asterisks and caveats to the claim.

Sort of how John Ratzenberger ended up being the sixth most successful actor of all time in terms of box office receipts by having minor supporting roles in a ton of hugely successful movies. He was in the first two Christopher Reeves Superman movies. He was in Gandhi. He was in The Empire Strikes Back. And he's had a voice part in every single Pixar movie. Plus the English dub of Miyazaki's Spirited Away.

Not to mention Super Buddies

Warlords of Atlantis

And, let's not forget, Battletruck.
posted by Naberius at 5:53 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


I attended not one but several weddings, and their accompanying receptions, during the time of Agadoo

As long as they didn't play it as the bride was making her entrance down the aisle. And not at funerals, of course.
posted by Grangousier at 5:54 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Weddings are where you learn that most people really don't listen to lyrics outside of the chorus -- see the legions of couples who thinks I Will Always Love You is a happy song to dance to as their first dance.

More on topic, despite him being pretty out of it in his older age, Meat Loaf holds a special place in my heart. I love the video for Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad to this day.
posted by tocts at 5:58 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Novelty hit singles were still a thing in the 1970's. "Convoy", "The Streak". People were ready to have some fun! And it was fun even saying the name of the record or artist. Of course the musical payload, as discussed above, needed to be there, and this doesn't really explain the staying power (pet rocks were fun, too).
posted by thelonius at 6:01 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


1977 was a @#$% of a year...

It's also my birth year! We just had a party and put together a playlist of songs released in 77. Alongside Mr Loaf were debut albums by Elvis Costello, The Clash, and Talking Heads, as well as Rumours, Marquee Moon, Lust For Life and The Idiot, ELO's Out of the Blue, Damned Damned Damned, Dolly Parton's Here You Come Again, Heart's Little Queen, Give a Little Bit by Supertramp, Celebrate Me Home by Kenny Loggins, Emmylou Harris's Luxury Liner, Foreigner by Foreigner, Bowie's Heroes and Low, Eno's Before and After Science, Beach Boys Love You, Billy Joel's The Stranger, Dead Boys Sonic Reducer, Blank Generation, Ramones Leave Home, Easy by The Commodores, Pink Flag, Running on Empty, This is the Modern World by The Jam, Flash Light by Parliament, JT by James Taylor and I'm sure I'm leaving a bunch off.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 6:48 AM on November 14 [10 favorites]


I almost never hear any songs from it on classic rock radio.

I agree that finding out who is buying would be an interesting story. I've heard a few songs from this album (maybe?), but it's not in regular rotation anywhere, and Meatloaf's most famous radio hit is probably "I'd Do Anything for Love, but I Won't do that".
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:00 AM on November 14


My dad loved Bat Out of Hell but my mom, um, didn’t. When Bat Out of Hell II came out and “I Would Do Anything For Love” was everywhere (remember the David Fincher-pastiche Beauty and the Beast music video directed by Michael Bay??), he bought the CD and went for a drive with me so we could listen to it for the first time together. Yay bonding!

It was disappointing. The original was Broadway Rock in a honky-tonk style. II was Broadway Rock post-Andrew Lloyd Webber. He cracked a bitter joke about the album using one of the song titles: “Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back.”
posted by infinitewindow at 7:13 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


I remember a big poster for Bat Out of Hell on the wall when I was working for RCA in the 80s. Now that I've read about the fake RCA deal that got it started, that must have been some kind of good inside joke.
posted by lagomorphius at 7:13 AM on November 14


1977 was a @#$% of a year... let's summarize:

1977 was peak ABC television. (40 years and I still think "ABC" whenever I hear "Still The One.")
posted by octobersurprise at 7:25 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


I almost never hear any songs from it on classic rock radio.

Probably because the best-known cut is over eight minutes long. (According to Wikipedia, Meat Loaf has claimed that it was originally planned at 27 minutes.) Even "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" clocks in at over five minutes on the LP, and that's not classic-rock-station-friendly because it's such a sad song, and brutally honest about the singer's shortcomings. (Even though it's got one of the best lyrics in pop music: "there ain't no Coupe de Ville hiding at the bottom
Of a Cracker Jack box")
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:10 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Imagine if your first name was just Meat.
posted by Theta States at 8:15 AM on November 14


"Walk over here, I want you to meet Meat."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:17 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


This album used to make me feel terrible, because I got it through the first boy who broke my heart. He was a lot like Mr. Loaf: big, shaggy-haired, fond of fantasy and operatically self-absorbed. (I have a type.) The songs were a trigger for a lot of shame and bitterness for me for a while, and I would still prefer never to hear “Hot Summer Night” again. But once I was older I could at least appreciate the sheer yearning and the doubled-down melody in Steinman’s music. I still love the pastiche Three Little Words.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:20 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


There's always Meat Beat Manifesto.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:21 AM on November 14


My guess is because of the frickin' deadly album cover.


False advertising, if you ask me.

1977 me: "Whoa, check out that wicked cover, this album must be some heavy shit!"

Slightly later me: "OK... WTF is this? Fucking show tunes??"
posted by mikeand1 at 8:34 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


Genius idea! Meat Loaf, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Meat Puppets all tour together performing songs off Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, Uncle Meat, and Meat Is Murder.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:40 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


(If that's a success, then we'll get Meat Loaf to tour with Sugarloaf and call it the Meatcake Tour.)
posted by octobersurprise at 8:44 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Some people - not all of them, and certainly not a lot of music critics - love the epic rock song form, and Jim Steinman is a master at it (he also wrote "Total Eclipse of the Heart"). "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" is a gem of the genre;

The instant where the song shifts to the first "cold and lonely" section pushes every single one of my pure-rock-joy moments. Steinman and Meat Loaf never had a more perfect Springsteen meets musical theatre moment. My hand spontaneously generates a lighter so i can wave it whenever that chorus starts. I don't even smoke.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:58 AM on November 14 [8 favorites]


Gentleman Caller first became aware of who Steinman is after seeing Phantom of the Paradise for the first time, and he said “that guy’s like a real-life Winslow Leach.” Imagining the Bay out of Hell songs being written by that character makes perfect sense.
posted by pxe2000 at 9:10 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Probably because the best-known cut is over eight minutes long. (According to Wikipedia, Meat Loaf has claimed that it was originally planned at 27 minutes.)

I adore Jim Steinman ("I've been called over the top. How silly. If you don't go over the top, you can't see what's on the other side.") but I'm not sure he's ever written a short song. Or even a moderate-length song.

If Bonnie Tyler had had a Steinman song to sing for Eurovision a few years ago, she'd probably have won, but I don't think he could hit the three-minute limit on song length to save his life. (Though I liked "Only Teardrops.")

Huh. Apparently Desmond Child co-wrote Tyler's Eurovision song ("Believe in Me") and also produced Bat out of Hell III and co-wrote six of its songs.
posted by asperity at 9:11 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


I think the question in the headline can be answered in part by the author's admission in the second paragraph: I own Bat Out of Hell in four different formats.

Albums that came out in the late 1970s and first half of the 1980's would probably have sold a vinyl copy, and then a CD later when that became ubiquitous. Maybe a tape in between to play in the car and now a digital copy downloaded straight to your iPad.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 9:11 AM on November 14


I was 16 when Bat Out Of Hell came out, so I was the perfect age for it: all that melodrama!

I've never listened to Bat II - I've always assumed it was a marketing ploy.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 9:12 AM on November 14


1977 me: "Whoa, check out that wicked cover, this album must be some heavy shit!"

Slightly later me: "OK... WTF is this? Fucking show tunes??"


See also: that Coldplay album whose cover suggests something cold, crystalline and New Orderesque, resonating with a listener's modern estrangement and alienation, rather than offering the same cozy, heartwarming fare they've built an empire from.
posted by acb at 9:15 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


1977 was a @#$% of a year... let's summarize:

the year I turned 18 and graduated high school, so sophisticated enough to find ...

Star Wars: A New Hope

underwhelming

Saturday Night Fever

annoying

Meat Loaf: A Bat Out of Hell

hard to argue with the title track *

Apple II, Atari 2600 and Commodore PET (and the Cray I, but you can't afford it)

I wouldn't own my first PC until 1987

The Clash

nobody actually heard them until at least 1978, unless you were English or maybe in New York

Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols

heard maybe one song, didn't hate it

The Eagles: Hotel California ("you can never leave")

I left.

Rocky

even 17-18 year old me could see the melodramatic strings being pulled. OK but I preferred Annie Hall (which I saw on the same double bill -- what were they thinking?)

The Book of Lists

it must've made an impression

Roman Polanski's rape arrest

LA was much further away in those days

Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee

shrug

the first issues of Us Weekly and Heavy Metal magazines & Black Panther and Cerebus comics

Heavy Metal was cool and very much coincided with arrival of Colombian Gold

Chia Pets

for kids

Debby Boone: You Light Up My Life (top selling single record of the year, no matter what anybody else did)

I do remember seeing this on TV one Sunday morning ...

and Elvis Presley died on his toilet.

heard the news on my way to the interview that got me into film school. My immediate thought was, oh no, this is going to be ugly. By which I meant we'd all be hearing non-stop Elvis on the radio for the next week or so (I was not a fan of oldies). I was wrong. It was magnitudes worse than I could've imagined (it went on for months), and led to at least one fist fight. A long story.

* But back to Bat out of Hell. I only really cared for the title track, but I did genuinely love it. That 9 minute 44 second blaze of glory where the technicolor passion of Bruce Springsteen connected with the epic ambitions of prog rock by way of the studio genius of Todd Rundgren (those motorcycle rumblings are all guitar) and, oh yeah, not a bad vocal performance ... also the song writing. Anyone that doesn't love it has something missing from their heart ... unless they've just heard it too much and become allergic, which is understandable.
posted by philip-random at 9:24 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Rocky

1976. (Albeit December for wide release, and movies stayed in theaters then longer than they do now, so it's likely many people didn't see it until 1977.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:12 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


I was in college when this came out. A friend at my frat house bought it on release because he loved the album cover. As drunken young men we were impressed by the bombast and Meatloaf's voice but it did sound like a Broadway hack's take on Springsteen. I got a copy just to blast the title cut. Me and my girlfriend used "Paradise" as sort of an inside joke.

Cut to the late 80s/early 90s and just about every wedding with a DJ would play this into the third set, when the alcohol had done its damage and couples who first met/married in the late 70s would gather on the dance floor to bray the lyrics at each other. The girlfriend in paragraph one was now my wife and her powerful soprano could nail that Foley part. I struggled to keep up with Meat but in the din no one ever noticed.

So my hat is off to Steinman and Meatloaf. I still don't mind the title cut but then again, I think Velveeta is a perfectly good cooking substance for some recipes.
posted by Ber at 10:58 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


I've always felt like this album is just, the apotheosis of someone fully committing to tacky bombast. There's something in human nature that loves watching an outcast pull off something amazing, or the freedom of someone giving not one single fuck what is popular or cool or ironic. He goes all in and a tiny whisper in all of us wishes we could nail that Bat out of Hell vocal before we ever knew it'd be famous or well received, just that we were all-fucking-in.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:41 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


1977 was a @#$% of a year...

My list of cultural touchstones was hastily researched and influenced by personal experience, so I welcome all additions and corrections... as I was cutting it down for semi-coherency, I most regretted excluding Close Encounters, Talking Heads, ABC's Tuesday sitcom block (Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three's Company) and Jimmy Carter's inauguration. The only reason I included Queen Elizabeth was my involvement in a Los Angeles radio promotion that resulted in me going to London for 3-days mid-Jubilee and becoming the first radio 'reporter' from any country to do an interview from the trading floor of Lloyds of London (a mostly forgotten achievement). And I've mentioned before that having Star Wars premiere while I was studying for Senior Finals AND working on the radio meant I was the only person on the Morning Crew who didn't see it during its first week, and being given the on-air title of 'the only person who HASN'T seen Star Wars' for the rest of my tenure at the station, and not actually seeing it until 1978 (in a near-empty theater where I alone stood up and cheered). And part of my radio job was making sure the 'wacky morning DJ' didn't sneak in any songs that were too 'hard rock' and Meat Loaf was a subject of much discussion with Management. Which prompted my original list...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:48 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


I've never listened to Bat II - I've always assumed it was a marketing ploy.

I had a copy. It wasn't bad. It reaches for the kind of bombast and drama that Bat I has, but it doesn't hit those notes nearly as well or as consistently. Anything for Love was the big hit, of course (the album version is something like 12 minutes long), but there's a couple of other tunes on it I kinda like - Life is a Lemon is a bit of a bitter, pessimistic song that is also a little bit wry and funny; and Wasted Youth, which is a bit more spoken word than hard driving rock song.
posted by nubs at 12:54 PM on November 14


Anyone that doesn't love it has something missing from their heart ...

A thick layering of Crisco around the mistral valve?

Bat II is significantly worse though; the original has a certain greasy charm.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:43 PM on November 14


Albums that came out in the late 1970s and first half of the 1980's would probably have sold a vinyl copy, and then a CD later when that became ubiquitous. Maybe a tape in between to play in the car and now a digital copy downloaded straight to your iPad.

"Guess I'll have to buy the White Album again."
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:22 PM on November 14


His name was Robert Paulsen.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:54 PM on November 14


I do not understand the appeal at all and was surprised by this thread, so I clicked on the article and read until I got to this: Todd Rundgren...reportedly rolled on the floor laughing when he first heard the songs.

So, I may be in the minority, but at least I'm in good company.
posted by she's not there at 5:58 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


No relation to Pat Paulsen. (Great comedian, very deadpan, and I did vote for him once)
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:28 PM on November 14


I still find the "Would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses" dialogue pretty hot, a vestige of my overwrought adolescence.
posted by gladly at 6:57 PM on November 14


I'll do anything for love, but I won't do that.
posted by infini at 8:04 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Please tell me I'm not the only one who went to Tower Records and asked for that album from The Dashboard Light. You know, the one with with "Paradise" on it?
posted by chavenet at 6:39 AM on November 15 [3 favorites]



No relation to Pat Paulsen. Or Rob Paulsen, voice of Yakko, Pinky and two Ninja Turtles!
and Elvis Presley died on his toilet.And three days later, Groucho Marx died.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 6:53 AM on November 15 [1 favorite]


freya_lamb : just crank up For Crying Out Loud to 11 and succumb to the glory.
- Dutifully finds the song and cranks it up to 11 in upstairs room. Hmm - pretty good indeed freya_lamb!
- Gets distracted and goes off to make coffee in kitchen
- Takes a phone call
- Sips coffee
- Looks out window at bird feeder
- Goes back upstairs
.... he's still not done!
posted by rongorongo at 9:19 AM on November 15 [3 favorites]


One more thing to add to the 1977 Retrospective derail: The launches of Voyager 1 AND 2. Part of their payload: The Golden Record, an audio disk that I would argue is more significant than Bat Out Of Hell, Saturday Night Fever and Never Mind The Bollocks COMBINED. (via kottke)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:35 PM on November 15 [1 favorite]


I gave up on Persona 5 after about 40 hours in, when it became clear that no matter how interesting the skeleton of the game systems could potentially be, the absolutely awful writing and story structure was not ever going to improve.

Some of Persona 5's many issues could be tied to translation problems - none of these characters speak like the translation writers have ever participated in a human conversation in their lives. Maybe that even accounts for the spectacularly tone-deaf way it treats many if it's topics of child abuse and bizarre understanding of 'adults ruining the world because of their broken hearts'. But something tells me the sexual politics it presents would be roundly awful no matter how the writing was translated. The animated cutscenes seem to exist entirely for fanservice sexualization of every female character in the game. There are two of the most gratingly awful gay stereotype characters that exist only to chase around and try to molest a high school boy. Everything about it is head-scratchingly wretched.

And if that goddamn cat tells me to go to bed one more time I'm going to strangle it... There are a lot of interesting mechanics and systems in play during the game, but they are presented in such an aggravating fashion that it is frequently infuriating. 80% of the time you're given a 'choice', there's actually only literally one thing you can do and attempting anything else just gives a 'nope' message. The game clearly has no issue being 40% cutscene already, so there's no reason it doesn't just narratively bypass these aggravating moments and prevent the player from going 'maybe this is the time i can whoop nope' dozens of times over.

Also, there is literally no plot point revealed that is not repeated verbatim four times over, often in conversations that are back to back in the same cutscene sequence. Jeebus but this game cannot figure out if its audience is down for a plot filled with abuse, suicide and sex work, or if they are barely-literate toddlers with no sense of plot-related object permanence.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:19 PM on November 15


an audio disk that I would argue is more significant than Bat Out Of Hell, Saturday Night Fever and Never Mind The Bollocks COMBINED

I'd argue that they're completely insignificant up until the moment they are found.
posted by hippybear at 7:32 PM on November 15


You can listen to the Golden disk here if you want to sneak in before the aliens. Personally I'd be quite happy to kick off with the intro to "Bat out of Hell" in place of "Greetings in 55 languages" - but I am no Carl Sagan.
posted by rongorongo at 9:51 PM on November 15


The chances of either probe being found by alien beings and those records listened to is like a tiny tiny fraction of being the sole winner of an $800million Powerball.

If I'm going with the symbolic hope of humanity being seeded out into the Universe with the hope of being recognized and understood in a way that isn't perhaps profound but at least provokes curiosity, I'm going with the Voyager records.

If I'm going with the significance of a thing that can be played on a record player in the Universe as far as we have encountered it thus far... yeah, the vinyl things mentioned are more of that.

There are many other things also that are are more of that.

Still, if a V'ger is discovered someday, I hope the encounter is a friendly one.
posted by hippybear at 10:21 PM on November 15


The chances of either probe being found by alien beings and those records listened to is like a tiny tiny fraction of being the sole winner of an $800million Powerball.
Agreed - but the bittorrent is now moving towards the aliens at the speed of light in all directions - so I'd imagine they'll just grab that up to avoid the wait.
posted by rongorongo at 11:23 PM on November 15


I attended not one but several weddings, and their accompanying receptions, during the time of Agadoo .

Ha! That was by Black Lace, and the guy who sung it got turfed out of the band for underage sex shenanigans, and I then had the great personal and professional pleasure of bankrupting him when I worked at the Insolvency Office in Leeds in 1996.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:38 PM on November 16 [1 favorite]


.... he's still not done!

You realise he's proud of that? That could be his motto: "Meat Loaf: And he's still not done!"

I kind of wonder why Steinman went off, so. Pandora's Box was the last thing by him I remember liking, and even then there were too many covers (and didn't it include that orchestral instrumental from around the same time as Bad For Good?) But the earlier stuff, for some of us, it's incomparably glorious, if dumb.
posted by Grangousier at 2:36 PM on November 17


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