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Meat Loaf: Reissues

Meat’s highs and lows.

If ever a career was fumbled like a one-handed cocktail barman, it was Meat Loaf’s legendary 80s descent. Having made a relative pittance out of Bat Out Of Hell’s 43 million sales he then managed to piss off his golden goose Jim Steinman with drug-induced vocal failures and label wrangles and had to cobble together his 1983 third album Midnight At The Lost And Found with alternative songwriters.

Steinman was set to return for 1984’s Bad Attitude but delays forced Meat Loaf to record two of Steinman’s previously released songs – the poppy, synth-driven Nowhere Fast and billowing album highpoint Surf’s Up – and write the rest with keyboardist Paul Jacobs, Sarah Durkee and John Parr.

Parr’s work on Cheatin’ In Your Dreams and Don’t Leave Your Mark On Me adds a dated 80s slickness to an otherwise powerful record, with the mighty Queen-anthem-that-never-was Modern Girl ranking among Meat’s catchiest pop bellows and his Roger Daltrey duet on the title track does its damndest to stop traffic a mile away.

If the title track of Bad Attitude (710) was about the sexy, snarling antihero within us all, then the fact that Blind Before I Stop’s (310) comically likened listening to rock music to shamelessly wanking in public speaks volumes about the rot setting in. Again unable to wait for Steinman’s input, Meat cobbled together his weakest set yet, bolstered by the strident Parr duet Rock’n’Roll Mercenaries and then de-toothed with vapid 80s pop production that made it sound more Boston than Bat.

Heavy on twinkling pianos, cheesy sax and the general stench of mullet gloss – Burning Down could be Paul Young, ferchrissake – this was meatless Loaf. No wonder, after this handbrake stop on his career, he’d wait seven years for Steinman’s Bat II.

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle (opens in new tab).