Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bat Out of Heaven

I’ve been a fan of Meat Loaf since 1977, roughly the same time I discovered Queen. It’s taken me years to realize that it was Jim Steinman’s songwriting brilliance that propelled the first Bat Out of Hell album to the top of the all-time best-seller charts.

I do have a soft spot for Meat Loaf, himself, though, and actually got to meet him in 2001 at the airport in Toronto. (On the downside, I kept picturing him as “Bob” from Fight Club the whole time we talked.)

I’m also a huge fan of Steinman’s 1981 solo album, Bad For Good. I understand that these songs were originally destined for Meat’s follow-up album but his voice was shot and Steinman couldn't wait forever. So, he recorded the songs himself.

Also around 1977, I discovered the fantasy art of Peruvian-American illustrator, Boris Vallejo, and have followed his work to the present day. As a side note, I think Boris’ work has weakened considerably since divorcing Doris, his first wife, and marrying fellow fantasy artist and bodybuilder, Julie Bell. They are definitely a power duo in the commercial art world, but painting together on one composition just doesn’t work, in my opinion. Nonetheless, anything with Boris’ finger on it will catch my attention, even if it's his wife’s.

So imagine my surprise when Bat Out of Hell III is released on Halloween Day, 2006 and I discover that my three great passions have converged on one album: Brian guesting on a Jim Steinman song (Bad For Good) on an album whose cover art is painted by Julie Bell (who’s married to Boris). The stars have aligned…finally.

Brian’s distinctive multi-layered guitar kicks off the song (which is a very different intro from Steinman’s album version) but Brian’s strongest contribution to the song happens at the 4 min 30 sec mark as the guitar lead begins. Brian’s trademark sound is all over this track and I could definitely imagine Freddie singing it instead of Meat.

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