Meat Loaf unleashes "Bat" for third flight
By Gary Graff
NEW YORK (Billboard) - By his own estimation, Meat Loaf has turned down offers to appear in five movies, six episodes of the new TV hit "Heroes" and a guest-starring stint on "CSI" this year.
If he wanted, the rock veteran could be working like, well, a bat out of hell. But come to think of it ... he is anyway. The monster that Meat Loaf helped create in 1977 has been unleashed again, and it's chewing up all his time and energy -- with his full and willing cooperation.
Virgin Records releases "Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose" on October 31, adding a new chapter to the biggest and best-known album serial in rock 'n' roll history. Its two predecessors -- 1977's "Bat Out of Hell" and 1993's "Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell" -- have sold nearly 50 million copies combined, and Meat Loaf is well aware that the anticipation for the threequel is as much, if not more, about the "Bat" than it is about him.
"'Bat Out of Hell' are not Meat Loaf's records," the singer says. "'Bat Out of Hell' is bigger than me. It's bigger than any of us who are involved. Meat Loaf becomes the spoke in the wheel of an event, and it's the event that takes over."
The "Bat" experience started in the mid-'70s. Back then, Meat Loaf, a one-time high school football player born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, had established credits on stage ("Hair") and screen ("The Rocky Horror Picture Show"), recorded an album for Motown in 1971 with "hair" colleague Shaun "Stoney" Murphy and sang on Ted Nugent's "Free for All" album in 1976.
Meat Loaf met Jim Steinman when the singer performed in the composer's musical "More Than You Deserve." The two were part of a tour for the National Lampoon Road Show. While Steinman was working on what Meat Loaf calls "a futuristic Peter Pan story" called "Neverland," he came up with the idea for the first "Bat Out of Hell" album, enlisting his friend to sing. All melodrama and bombast -- Phil Spector meets Tod Browning -- the Todd Rundgren-produced album became a late-'70s sensation, spawning three hits ("Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light") and logging an 82-week stay on the Billboard 200.
A second "Bat" project was planned to follow immediately, but Meat Loaf suffered a psychosomatic voice loss he now chalks up to simply being unready to take the plunge again. Continued...