With his major-label debut in October 1977, Meat Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday) released one of the best selling albums in the history of recorded music, Bat Out Of Hell. The record has been certified 14x platinum and Rolling Stone lists it at 343 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Surprisingly enough, Meat Loaf and his composer Jim Steinman had a very difficult time finding a record company, before Todd Rundgren decided to produce the material. All 7 songs have become classic rock staples, especially in karaoke bars around the world. Let’s take a closer look at the album that stayed on the UK charts for 474 weeks.
The 10-minute long title track starts off the record, with Rundgren himself playing several instruments on the song. Many of the musicians were from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and Rundgren’s Utopia. Despite ending on a high C, the number has become the traditional closer for Meat Loaf concerts. The first single of Meat Loaf’s career was “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” which features a spoken-word intro by Steinman himself. The song came to be with Meat asking Jim to write a pop song that wasn’t 15 or 20 minutes long. The tempo finally slows down for the first ballad “Heaven Can Wait,” which features excellent piano work by Roy Bittan. Although never issued as a single, it has become quite the fan favorite with its beautiful melodies and lyrics. Side One ends with “All Revved Up With No Place To Go” with Edgar Winter on sax. The thumbing bass rhythm plays a key part before the song gets frantic near the end.
The final song written for the album was the second single, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” which hit #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Steinman was challenged by Mimi Kennedy to write “a simple song, like Elvis would do,” but the best refrain Steinman could come up with was “I want you, I need you but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you, don’t be sad, ’cause two out of three ain’t bad.” One of the biggest karaoke songs of all time is “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” which, despite topping out at 8 minutes and 28 seconds (according to Meat Loaf, the original length was around 27 minutes), is constantly played at parties to this day. Although Ellen Foley sang the female lyrics on the record, Karla DeVito was used in the music video. The album ends with the heartbreaking “For Crying Out Loud” that again features Bittan on piano. It is such a poignant ending that it almost doesn’t feel like it belongs with the rest of the album that’s about an adolescent boy trying to get some action.