Jim Steinman is the metaphorical Wizard of Oz behind the rotund, fleshy curtain that is Meat Loaf. All of the songs on the famous ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ album were written by Steinman, who was a musical theatre composer before the album catapulted him into the rock history books.
Steinman and Meat Loaf had enormous difficulty getting a record company to release ‘Bat Out Of Hell’, which seems laughable in retrospect. Apparently they spent over 2 years auditioning the songs to various companies, before a small offshoot company of Epic called Cleveland Records decided to release the album. Their investment was rewarded, of course: by some tallies, the album has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and still sells over 200,000 copies per year.
Jim Steinman’s rock songwriting reflects his love of Phil Spector and his theatre background, and never were these aesthetic qualities better served than on ‘Bat Out Of Hell’. Some music critics and fans find this album pretentious and overblown, but its epic hugeness is the very thing that makes it work for me.
This documentary is one of my favourites. The details and the humble origins of the album are discussed, and the interviews with the musicians are superb. Todd Rundgren’s insights and ideas about music production are very cool, and watching this video deepened my appreciation for his music as well. I post it here in honour of Jim Steinman, who was born November 1st, 1947.