Meat Loaf has never done anything on a small scale 2002 Deluxe Edition liner notes
Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, first released in August, 1993, topped the American and British Charts, made “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” the Number One single in the world, and, most importantly, turned Meat Loaf, the gale-force rocker with the operatic voice and the prodigious girth, into the comeback kid of the ‘90s.
The original Bat Out Of Hell, released in 1977, was a watershed event. From songwriter Jim Steinman’s elborate wet-dream set pieces, Todd Rundgren’s own Wall of Sound production and dramatic, passionate vocals by Mr. Loaf himself, it was unlike any rock ‘n’ roll the world had ever heard. To date, Bat Out Of Hell has sold more than 25 million copies.
Some history: Meat Loaf began life in Dallas, Texas, as Marvin Lee Aday, Orvis and Wilma’s only child. He was always a large kid, and weighed 240 pounds in the seventh grade. Accordingly, he was the big bruiser on the high school football team. His family called him ML—for Marvin Lee—and it was his father, a cop with Dallas’ finest, who turned the initials into Meat Loaf. A bit uncomfortable for the sensitive youngster, but it stuck. Soon enough, his running buddies at Jefferson High were calling him Meat.
Meat developed an interest in the theater as a teen, began acting in school productions and he also sang in the school chorus. After a stint at North Texas State, he went west, landing in Los Angeles in the summer of 1967. Putting together a band, with many monikers including Meat Loaf Soul, Popcorn Blizzard, and Floating Circus, he sang R&B, hard rock and straight ahead electric blues, lacing the stage show with theatrics: With Floating Circus, the 300-pound Meat wore a tuxedo and went shoeless, the drummer was in full clown regalia, the bass player dressed like an Indian and the backup singer sported a swan costume.
In 1968, on a whim, Meat Loaf auditioned for the L.A. company of Hair and was hired on the spot. Eventually he made his first recording, an album for Motown with the play’s leading lady, Stoney (their single, “What You See Is What You Get,” reached No. 11 on Billboard’s R&B chart). But a career in music was still a few years away. In the early-to-mid ‘70s, Meat Loaf appeared onstage in As You Like It and Rainbow, and a half-dozen other plays. He was the original actor in the role of Eddie in the stage version of The Rocky Horror Show, and he repeated in the film version.
Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman met in 1972 at auditions for the latter’s play, More Than You Deserve, which was being produced by the legendary Broadway bigwig Joe Papp. The eccentric but wildly talented Steinman played Meat the songs he was composing for Never Land, a proposed Peter Pan-type musical. When Meat was hired for the touring ensemble of the National Lampoon Show in ‘75, he insisted that Steinman came alone as the show’s piano player. By this time, they were, together, transforming sections of Never Land into the songs that would become Bat Out Of Hell. Steinman created the songs with no one but Meat Loaf in mind.
Steinman’s grandiose teen-age dreams and lust-fueled nightmares seemed to be tailor-made for Meat’s larger-than life voice. With Todd Rundgren’s stylish production, Bat Out Of Hell was released on CBS subsidiary Cleveland International in October 1977. The late ‘70s were ready and waiting for "Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad," "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" and "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth." With his ample waistline, wild, unkempt hair and a voice that seemed to leap, song by song, from tender to terrorizing, Meat Loaf gave rock music a welcome sense of drama. The rest is history.
Trouble entered the picture almost immediately; burned-out from his constant roadwork, Meat lost his voice as he and Steinman were beginning the follow-up album, Bad For Good. After disagreements about the songs, the studio musicians and the very nature of the singer’s problems, Steinman cut the vocals himselfand released Bad For Good under his own name. Eventually, the split came to legal blows, and although Meat made a handful albums in the 1980s, none were as succesful.
By the end of the ‘80s, he and Steinman had kissed and made up, and Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell was born. Steinman recycled several older songs—“Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through,” “Lost Boys And Golden Girls” and “Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)” were on Bad For Good—and wrote a handful of melodic epics.
There’s nothing like this, Steinman ethused before the album’s release.
I believe people will be enriched and thrilled by it.
“Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere),” “Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back,” “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” and “Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are.” Who could resist titles like those? In its original form, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” was more than 15 minutes in length.
Jim’s songs may be miniature operas, but they’re always too long for radio, wrote Meat Loaf in his autobiography, To Hell And Back.
Practically every one of them has to be edited down from 9 or 11 minutes to something that the stations will play. He goes through incredible agony over these edits. As far as he is concerned, it’ll kill the song.
“I’d Do Anything For Love…” was trimmed for the album, and the single version is included here on Disc 2. Much to the surprise and delight of everyone concerned, the song was championed by MTV, which gave the accompanying $565,000 (or so) video, a gothic tragedy wit Meat as rock ‘n’ roll Phantom Of The Opera, the heaviest rotation possible. The single logged five weeks on the top of Billboard chart, the album went gold, the multi-platinum, and for a while it was 1977 all over again. Meat Loaf was playing sellout shows across the country, and Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell was all over the airwaves.
Older and wiser, but no less Wagnerian in his approach, Steinman produced the album himself, using everything he learned from Rundgren back in the day and applying it to a set of slightly more mature songs. The pathos of “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” or the autobiographical wistfulness of “Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are” would have been beyond the young songsmith’s grasp in the ‘70s.
Meat Loaf himself sang these new productions with a touch of resignation and sweetness that clearly reflected the hard lesson he had learned during his long, lean period. Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell became one of the rarest birds in the entertainment business: A sequel that actually complemented the original.
Sources include “To Hell And Back—An Autobiography” by Meat Loaf with David Dalton (Regan Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 1999)