In 1978, I walked into a Long Island N.Y. Sam Goody’s record store and saw the cover of Meal Loaf’s album Bat Out of Hell on display. I never heard of Meat Loaf at the time. The store was not playing the record. I had no idea what type of music Meat Loaf sang,or who he or they were. All I knew was that album cover looked cool and whatever was recorded on that album would also probably sound pretty cool. Hey I was only fourteen at the time, so an image like the Bat Out Of Hell cover was a definite draw. After purchasing the Bat Out Of Hell album, I was not disappointed by what I heard on first listen. The music defined the album cover and more. It was exciting, original and would stand as one of the best rock records recorded in the 1970’s.
The collaboration between Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf was a perfect match. Steinman’s theatrical based rock music was a perfect match for Meat Loaf’s emotional singing and performance. Meat Loaf released many records throughout his career but it was the work he did with Steinman that has always stood out. Fifteen years after Bat Out Of Hell was released, Steinman and Meat Loaf joined forces again to release a sequel aptly titled Bat Out Of Hell II. In 2006, Meat Loaf released the third Bat Out of Hell album entitled Bat Out Of Hell III. However, on the third record, Meat Loaf utilized various songwriters including the ht making machine Desmond Child. The album sounded quite different from the first two Bat Out Of Hell records but still maintained the ferocity and theatrical rock pop balance that defined the first two records.
The new Meat Loaf Braver Than We Are album is the singer’s thirteenth official studio release. The record has been heavily promoted as a reunion between Jim Steinman and Meatloaf. It is the first album that features all songs written by Steinman since 1993’s Bat Out of Hell II. The cover art also depicts a return to the Bat Out Of Hell style artwork. For fans of the Bat Out OF Hell series, the reunion between the two artists and the visual ads have set up the hopes that the record would be a return to the exciting theatrical rock sound that graced the Bat Out of Hell albums.
The Meat Loaf Braver Than We Are CD arrived in the mail this week, and was quickly unwrapped and placed in the old Dennon CD player. While unwrapping the CD, the excitement grew even larger as it was noticed that both Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito were listed as vocalist on the record. Foley had recorded the original female lead on 1977’s Paradise By The Dashboard Light. Karla DeVito went on to perform the song on Meat Loaf’s tours and was featured in the live concert video.
Between the cover, the musicians, and the reunion between Steinman and Meatloaf, the anticipation was running very high as the CD began to spin. It was a total shock to hear an old blues riff with a 50’s styles circus sound begin the album. Wait, what? This was completely not expected. Okay hold on a second, there is a break, the drums are about to exploded, the piano will come to life and Meat Loaf’s high tenor will come screeching through the speakers. Wait, what? The break only leads into a German cabaret style slow saloon song and Meat Loaf’s is singing in the low end of his register.
The Meat Loaf Braver Than We Are album contains ten tracks. Many of the songs were written years ago and were intended for previous Bat Out Of Hell Records but never made the cut for various reasons. The song “More,” originally appeared on The 1990 Sisters of Mercy’s album Vision Thing. Bonnie Tyler had also recorded the album’s “Loving You’s a Dirty Job” in 1986.
On most of the Meat Loaf Braver Than We Are record, Meat Loaf sings in his lower register while occasionally reaching some of the higher notes on songs like the album’s closer “Train Of Love.” The production on the album is top notch as the bass, drums, and lead vocals sound like reference material.
The Meat Loaf Braver Than We Are album sounds nothing like the Bat Out Of Hell records, but then again, the group makes no reference to those albums. Only the cover art depicts the Bat Out Of Hell era. So if you spin the CD understanding that you are not going to hear anything like the Bat Out of Hell material, than you can make your own judgement’s on the recording.