Sunday, 26 May 2019

Meat Loaf - Back Into Hell: Bat Out Of Hell 2 (1993)

The dream is yours forever....

  

Released September 1993

Good Lord above, I had missed Meat Loaf. After two great albums in "Bat Out Of Hell" and "Dead Ringer" and a proxy album in madcap composer Jim Steinman's "Bad For Good", there had only been three underwhelming albums since 1981 as poor old Meat floundered without Steinman's pseudo-operatic and magnificent, glorious input. It was all back as it should be here, though, with long songs full of the grandiose, semi-ludicrous bombast that had been missing. Only Meat Loaf and Steinman could pull this sort of thing off. Humour, yearning, lusty sexuality all wrapped up in over-the-top theatricality. You either like it or you don't.

TRACK LISTING

1. I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)
2. Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back
3. Rock 'n' Roll Dreams Come Though
4. It Just Won't Quit
5. Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)
6. Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
7. Wasted Youth
8. Everything Louder Than Everything Else
9. Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)
10. Back Into Hell
11. Lost Boys And Golden Girls                            

Beginning with some typically Steinman-arranged piano, the lengthy build up to "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" leaves the listener in no doubt that, after all those fallow years, Meat Loaf and Steinman were back - and how. The song is, like "For Crying Out Loud" from the original "Bat Out Of Hell" album, a number in two parts. The first is Meat Loaf on vocals, backed by some thumping drums, guitar and piano, while the second half gives us a duet with female vocalist Lorraine Crosby that re-visits the sexual tension first explored on "Paradise By The Dashboard Light". The magic is back, that is for sure.


"Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back" is a huge, riffy, chunky industrial chugger of a rock song. It is as heavy as Steinman and Loaf ever got. "What about the future? You can shove it up your ...." screams Loaf at one point. Quite. Steinman had never been quite so cynical. "Rock 'n' Roll Dreams Come Through" was originally done by Steinman as a bonus track on "Bad For Good". Meat Loaf has the stronger vocal, but there is something about Steinman's version that I prefer, maybe the alto saxophone solo the original had. The chorus, though, is sublimely anthemic. Meat Loaf deals with it admirably, of course. The haughtily grand "It Just Won't Quit" dates from Steinman's excellent "Original Sin" by Pandora's Box production, featuring four female vocalists. Again, Loaf does it justice.

"Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)" also comes from "Bad For Good". Once more, I find I prefer Steinman's version, this time it is for his original guitar intro and weaker, but creepily lustier vocals. "Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are" - what a title. Unfortunately, it is one of the album's weaker tracks. Unusually for a Steinman composition, despite a few good parts, it goes on too long without getting anywhere (nearly ten minutes). Steinman tries to re-visit the spirit of Bruce Springsteen's "Racing In The Street" and marry it to "Bat Out Of Hell" but doesn't quite get there. I do like several bits of it, though, so there you go. I like the re-working of the "it was long ago and far away" line from "Paradise By The Dashboard Light". More reminiscing is to be found as "Wasted Youth" revisits the paranoid, spoken vocal of "Love And Death And An American Guitar" from "Bad For Good". This time it has more melodramatic orchestration.

"Everything Louder Than Everything Else" is straight ahead pounding, riffy, singalong rock, while "Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)" is another one from "Original Sin". Guess what? I preferred the original. Not that I don't like this one though. It is fine lines. I preferred the female vocals on the original. "Back Into Hell" is a short broody, synthesiser and orchestra instrumental before we end this opus of an album with the Peter Pan-esque, plaintive and melodic "Lost Boys And Golden Girls".

After so many years in the wilderness, sixteen years later, could a monster like "Bat Out Of Hell" be matched? A pretty impossible task was given a really good shot here. Great album.

B+

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