Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell


My first experience with this album was as a barely 18 year old Airforce recruit.  At basic training, to reinforce our lowly status, the airmen recruits had their own 'club' (meaning a room with tables and chairs and a hole-in-the-wall bar).  But the club had a juke box with a selection of present-day hits.  This selection included just about every track on Bat Out Of Hell, the Jim Steinman penned rock opus.

We would spend many a night in various stages of drunken rowdiness singing along to these tracks, generally loudly and particularly out of tune.  Alcohol has a way, though, of tuning even the most tuneless until we all sounded like Pavarotti or maybe even Meat Loaf himself.

It had been some considerable time since I last heard Bat Out Of Hell, but I wasn't surprised I knew most of the words still.  Like The Beatles, these songs have become part of my music memory, there to be instantly recalled with the opening strains of, lets say, Paradise By The Dashboard Light.  Ask me to recall them without a musical prompt and I'd fail miserably.  Put the track on, though, and I'm right there with Meat, belting it out like I've been singing it for years.

33 years on (yes, it has been that long), this album is still selling more in any given year than most indie bands can manage in their careers.  The only question I have is when is the stage show going to happen?



When I was a teenager, I'd often sit up late on a Friday and Saturday night with my father, talking about everything in the world, with the radio on in the background.  For most of my teenage years we didn't have a television, because my mother objected to the fact it would suck our brains out of our eyes (read: no-one helped her with the housework) and so she got rid of it (read: hid it in the garage under a bunch of boxes.)

The local public broadcast radio station ended at midnight, and switched over to what was then Australia's only youth radio station: Sydney's Double J, later to become the national broadcaster Triple J.  In this way I got to hear some truly weird and wonderful music, given that I lived in the country backwater that was (and occasionally still is) our national capital.  I can still recall when I heard for the first time the introduction to You Took the Words Right Out Of My Mouth, and it gave me a shiver.  I was 14, and totally prepared to offer my throat to the wolf with the red roses, but unsure of what that would really entail.  I remember that moment like it was yesterday: the smell of my dad's pipe and the woodsmoke from our open fire.  I remember it had come in the middle of a short break in the conversation, and we both just listened to it until the music started, and then looked at each other and asked: What was THAT all about?

Later this album would be everywhere, and was certainly played over and over again on the cassette player in my first boyfriend's house (hi, Andrew!) along with Kate Bush and the Sweet (ah, those were the days!)  Therefore it's as much a part of my DNA as Hotel California, and will never not be a part of my life.  Especially as it'll always bring that moment back to me, a moment I treasure.


For more information: http://www.meatloaf.net/


  1. Excellent album!

    I like to listen to this and Jim Steinman's Bad For Good back to back for a double threat of bombastic over the top operatic arena rock!

  2. You reminded me that I had Bad For Good at one stage, on vinyl. Hmm, in fact, I may still have it somewhere. Thanks for the reminder.

    Oh, and great description - bombastic operatic arena rock is exactly what it is.


  3. I've never owned this album or needed to. You know how people in the nineties complained about nirvana being thrashed at parties or friend's houses. Well, during the eighties....
    Maybe I should chase a copy down as it is some time since I've heard it in its entirety.

  4. Like you, Chris, I've never had to own this album although I do think I had it on cassette at one point. Mine got a CD copy of it fairly recently because we don't have a record player. Planning on fixing that real soon though.

    I honestly thought I'd heard it enough, but listening through it a couple of times for the review, it occurred to me it will be one of those records that stays with us until we die.