Thanks Reality Television For Ruining Meat Loaf For Me

April 2, 2011

Here and there – for what seems has been weeks now – I’ve seen a commercial for that reality show with Donald Trump and celebrities.

In the clip that’s caught my attention, Meat Loaf is threatening to go Fight Club on Gary Busey. It makes me uncomfortable to see Meat Loaf so worked up.

By the time I started purchasing music in ’81 or so, Meat Loaf’s career had bottomed out.

I don’t remember hearing anything on the radio from his second album, Dead Ringer in ’81. I didn’t hear anything from Midnight At The Lost And Found, album number three, either, but I do remember reading a review in the Sunday newspaper that was fairly positive.

Even as that album was being ignored in 1983, I was still hearing Meat Loaf on the radio as songs from the singer’s 1977 debut Bat Out Of Hell were part of the playlists on several of the stations to which I was listening.

Though I don’t remember any of my friends or classmates mentioning Meat Loaf in our conversations about music, I know that a lot of us had a copy of Bat Out Of Hell, some of them inherited from older siblings.

I had a cassette of the album that I’d dubbed from a friend.

Of course, that was it for the hefty fellow for fifteen years until his reunion with Bat Out Of Hell co-conspirator Jim Steinman for the sequel which sold millions of copies.

I vividly recall our jazz buyer picking up a copy of Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell in our stockroom, looking at the over-the-top cover, and – in his best crotchety old man voice – gruffly barking, “You kids get this damned bat off my building!”

Though the album didn’t really resonate with me, it was hard to begrudge Meat Loaf’s unexpected comeback and success.

He seemed like an affable fellow. Maybe it’s his size but I’ve always pictured Meat Loaf as a jolly fellow.

Maybe it’s because I’d read somewhere that Meat Loaf was a big baseball fan and could imagine the big guy taking me to a ball game.

Now the steroids, greed, and the disparity in spending amongst teams has essentially driven me from following baseball and Meat Loaf is screaming maniacally at Gary Busey on my television screen.

Maybe it’s a sign that there is peril ahead in 2012.

Of course, The Busey strikes me as the kind of fellow that could drive even the most zen being to a state of homicidal rage. Personally, I have expressed legitimate concerns that I might awake one morning to find that Gary Busey has been secretly living in our attic.

Whatever the case, my world has been turned upside down by the sight of an irate Meat Loaf screaming at Gary Busey. Here’s four songs from the ruffled-shirted fellow from happier times…

Meat Loaf – Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad
from Hits Out Of Hell

Meat Loaf – You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
from Hits Out Of Hell

These first two tracks are, of course, from Bat Out Of Hell which currently ranks as one of the ten best-selling albums in the history of mankind. Though a mere seven songs, none of them are less than epic, so massive each that they are a capable of making women and children cry and grown men shudder.

As I was hearing Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad regularly on the radio during my musical formative years – even though the song had been a hit five or six years earlier – I had no idea that the folks that had been involved in constructing Bat Out Of Hell would soon be found on other albums I’d soon own including Todd Rundgren, members of Utopia, E-Street Band mates Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg as well as the underappreciated Ellen Foley.

As for You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night), the crazy opening dialogue always makes me go, “Huh?” but, like everything else on the album, it’s impossible to not get drawn in (and I dig the handclaps).

Meat Loaf – Dead Ringer For Love
from Hits Out Of Hell

Meat Loaf – Read ‘Em And Weep
from Hits Out Of Hell

It’s been well chronicled of the problems Meat Loaf had in putting together a follow-up to Bat Out Of Hell and those difficulties didn’t even include Gary Busey. Dead Ringer didn’t arrive until four years after Bat Out Of Hell which was an eternity in that era.

Though Jim Steinman, the maestro behind the debut, penned the songs for the follow-up his involvemenr in Dead Ringer was far less than it had been on Bat Out Of Hell. There was still a stellar cast of musicians – Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone, the great Mick Ronson, the legendary Nicky Hopkins – but I don’t think I heard a single track on radio.

(I was hearing Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through from Steinman’s solo effort Bad For Good which would later appear on Bat Out Of Hell II)

I suppose it would be difficult to recapture the initial surprise of Meat Loaf’s debut, but the singer’s duet on the near title track with Cher and the break-up ballad Read ‘Em And Weep – a hit for Barry Manilow a couple years later – wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the slightest beside the songs on Bat Out Of Hell.