The Ten Best Pieces of Meat Loaf

From crazy theatrical rock to powerful lyrical ballads, Meat Loaf had one of the most distinctive and important voices in rock. Following the death of the singer at 74, Alan Corr rounds up some of his greatest moments

Paradise by the dashboard light

In the height of the summer of 1977, when we were all supposed to be appalled or thrilled by punk, Meatloaf exploded like something out of nowhere with Bat out of hell, a mixture of rock pomp and incidental music excess. This hammy duet with Karla DeVito has captured the imagination of a new generation, but has also set older hearts pounding with its stolen memories of a drive-in movie knee shake. Songwriter Jim Steinman said he wanted to write “the ultimate car/sex song where everything ends horribly wrong in the end.”

Two out of three is not bad

An anthem for lighters at altitude if there ever was one, this tearful song is inspired by an old Elvis song. As Jim Steinman later recalled, “An oldies station was on the radio and it was playing that old Elvis song, ‘I Want You, I Need,’ whatever. I just started singing my own song but it was ‘I Want You, I need you, I love you.’ I remember coming home and trying so hard but the best I could do was, ‘I want you, I need you but there’s no way I’m gonna love you one day, don’t be sad, because two out of three is not bad”. So it was still a twist but it was what I sounded like the most from a simple song, and Elvis could have done it. “

I would lie for you (and that’s the truth)

Another cleverly titled power ballad with squealing guitars and trademark piano, Meat’s duet with regular collaborator Patti Russo almost burns with battered sincerity and passion. The video was equally over the top, with helicopters, explosions and meatloaf driving a car from which an Indiana Jones-esque hero jumps onto a passing plane. As you do.

I’d do anything for love (but I won’t)

We never got to find out what it was, but Meatloaf’s 1993 single I’d do anything for love (but I won’t) became one of the most successful and talked about songs of his career. It reached number one in Ireland for weeks and topped the charts in 28 countries. The song was taken from his comeback album, Bat Out of Hell II: Bat in Hell, which reunited him with estranged producer Jim Steinman, won him a Grammy, sold more than 14 million copies and lifted him out of the slump of his career – including a rocky tour at the end. 80s in community halls and Irish ballrooms.

You took the words out of my mouth (Hot Summer Night)

It starts with one of the greatest (and actually funniest) spoken word intros in rock history before launching into an all-and-the-kitchen Springsteenesque approach to the soundbomb wall. With Spectoresque drumming and spiraling harmonies, this was one of Meat’s finest moments.

Dead Ringer for Love

A blistering duo with the equally big Cher, this 1981 cracker was Meat Loaf in excelsis. Taken from his second album Doppleganger, Steinman originally wrote the song with Tony Hendra and Sean Kelly for a TV show called Delta House. It was a #7 hit when it was released and also charted again in 1991 at #28.

More than you deserve

In 1974, when he was an unknown songwriter, Meat released this Elton John-inspired single. Singing in a country music style, it tells the story of an encounter with a girl “shining like an angel in the night” at a roadhouse (natch) amid a growing torrent of strings, guitars and drums. harmonies. Truly epic stuff and a hint of what was to come.

Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are

The third single from Meat Loaf’s 1993 comeback album Bat out of Hell II: Back to Hell, this quirky title hit was overflowing with all that awesome partnership between Meat and Steinman. “I’m really proud of it because it’s really a movie that goes overboard in the sense that it has imagery — it has religious imagery of resurrection, it has fertility and rebirth imagery,” Steinman said. later. “And if life is just a highway, then the soul is just a car.” Preach, meat, preach!

Bat out of hell

With nearly ten minutes, rarely has a rock song been so dramatic. The “most extreme crash song ever”, it has it all – racing pianos, Wagnerian pump, revving motorcycles, Mr. Loaf’s overheated vocals and squealing guitars – and painted an urgent portrait heroic dreams of teenagers. Steinman intended the song to appear on “a sci-fi rock ‘n roll version of Peter Pan”, but it draws most of its inspiration from 1960s teenage tragedy songs like leader of the pack and Tell Laura I love her. It also had more false endings than Boris Johnson’s premiership.

It’s all coming back to me now

Originally a hit for Celine Dion and inspired by The Wuthering Heights, Meat recorded it in 2006 for Bat out of Hell III: The monster is loose. The singer had always had a strained relationship with Steinman (died last year at the age of 73) and Meat later remarked that his voice was so passionate because he thought the song was about his partnership with Steinman. “For me it wasn’t a song about romance, it was about me and Jim Steinman. We had a lot of problems with the managers in the early 1980s and all of a sudden, after five years, we we started to communicate.”

Alan Corr @CorrAlan2

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