The Monster is Loose

There is just something I like about Meat Loaf. Not the food… can’t stand the stuff usually, but the singer. This past week saw the release of Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose. And it is good.

Although… it is weak in places. Meat Loaf has always had a sort of semi-operatic tone to his voice, good for belting out ballads. Jim Steinman has always been great at writing songs that are touching, funny and moderately nasty all at once. The combination of the two of them have produced some fairly awesome songs like Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), and more. And in some respects this album delivers. Steinman originally wrote It’s All Coming Back To Me Now for Meat Loaf, but Meat didn’t record it for Bat Out of Hell II, so he sold it to Celine Dion (and here I went 8 years without mentioning her on my website, damn)… Meat Loaf takes the song back, and the lyrics just fit him so much better than they did her. All of Steinman’s songs on the album are strong and as good as they ever were.

But, Jim had a heart attack and a couple of strokes that sidelined him for a while, and Meat Loaf, rather than wait, decided to push on with another writer… Desmond Child. Now, Desmond has produced lots of people and worked with tons of bands… but there is something here that, for me, just doesn’t work. The songs that Desmond worked on instead of Jim feel more generic, like they aren’t tailor made for Meat Loaf to record. They don’t have that… that special something that the Meat Loaf/Steinman collaborations have. And its a shame, the songs aren’t bad they just don’t pop, they don’t spark like the rest.

All in all though, Meat Loaf lays down another solid album, and its worth the money. A fine 3rd part for this trilogy. And I think I’m pretty safe calling it a trilogy, because the first one was 1977, the second was 1993 (16 years), and now 2006 (13 years)… if there is a fourth chapter, when Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman finish fighting and get back to working together, we can expect it right around 2021 when Meat Loaf will be 74. I’m not going to hold my breath.

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