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Meat Loaf: Hell In A Handbasket

A cricket-based concept album called Coming In To Bat next time, Meat?

Two years ago, like a novelty metal Stuart Lee, Meat Loaf pulled off an artistic renaissance. Releasing an album called Hang Cool Teddy Bear about a dying soldier seeing his life flash forward, he worked with such panto-rock gonks as Brian May, Jack Black and Justin Hawkins, yet managed to erase his theatrical 90s corniness and attain a visceral rock credibility.

For all its title’s sly attempts to skim off some Bat cash without treading on Jim Steinman’s copyrights, this continues that good work, largely by crowbarring in collaborations even more incongruous than the lugubrious Hugh Laurie tinkling Hang Cool’s ivories.

So Chuck D from Public Enemy pops up to rap a furious interlude to the cataclysmic blues of Mad Mad World. The very odd trio of Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, Lonestar’s John Rich and rapper Lil Jon join forces in a cold quarter of Hell… to add rap-country-punk weight to Stand In The Storm.

And there’s a hungry vitality to these songs of poverty, struggle and living on love (Fall From Grace, The Giving Tree, Party Of One; defiant reminiscences, perhaps, of his 80s financial woes) that’s only hobbled by Meat’s tendency to go on a bit, dragging it out with a trip-rock cover of California Dreamin’, the X Factor blandness of Another Day and Our Love & Our Souls, which could be – spit! – Lady Antebellum.

For the most part, though, a succulent mouthful.