All Revved Up With No Place To Go – Meat Loaf
Bat Out of Hell
46:33 min • Cleveland International/Epic Records • October 21, 1977
Walter Beck reviews
In 1977, Meat Loaf was a fairly successful actor, having worked in such productions as Hair and, of course, taking the role of Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but he wasn’t really a successful musician. His first album Stoney & Meatloaf, released six years prior, went nowhere and was mostly forgotten. Then he met composer Jim Steinman and together they created one of the most powerful progressive rock albums of all time, Bat Out of Hell.
Opening with the title track, ‘Bat Out of Hell’, the album gets going with nearly ten minutes of multi-layered thunderous rock ‘n’ roll. Taking a cue from the teenage “splatter platters” of early rock ‘n’ roll, the song is the tale of a boy on a motorcycle and the girl he loves. Pushing his bike to its limits, the boy dies in a blaze of glory, still in love with his girl.
And the last thing I see is my heart,
Breaking out of my body,
And flying away,
Like a bat out of hell.
‘You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)’ is a classic love song, steeped in a percussion heavy sound. It’s not as frantic in sound as ‘Bat Out of Hell’, it’s slowed down but not quite a ballad. It’s a good, mid-tempo rocker and while the lyrics may seem a bit clichéd, Meat Loaf’s voice makes them work.
If there is a ballad on the album, it’s the third cut, ‘Heaven Can Wait’. Stripped down to a piano and some strings in the background, this song really lets Meat Loaf’s vocal cords shine through. A song of isolation and hope, Meat Loaf is torn between death and life, singing,
I got a taste of paradise.
That’s all I really need to make me stay.
The first half of the album ends with another full throttle rocker, ‘All Revved Up With No Place to Go’, as Meat Loaf steps back into the role of a cocky boy on the lookout for a girl to share some physical young ecstasy with. The song builds, with the first part dominated by a thumping snare drum rhythm, backed with some classic hot saxophone playing. Then as it builds in hot physical passion, it takes a speedy turn, the band burning along as Meat Loaf repeatedly barks, “All revved up and no place go!”
The second half of the album slows it down a bit again with ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad’. It’s a piano driven song about lost love, how Meat Loaf only loved one girl in his life, but she’s gone, never to be seen again. With this new girl, he says he can give her a lot, but he can never give her his love, since his old girl still has his heart. He tells her,
Now don’t be sad,
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad.
‘Paradise By the Dashboard Light’ is the last multi-layered rocker on the album, burning for eight and a half minutes. In a duet with Ellen Foley, Meat Loaf sings a classic teenage love song, a young couple parked out somewhere making out, moving towards a full out fuck – or as Meat Loaf sings “We’re gonna go all the way, tonight’s the night.” But the girl demands that he love her forever, that he always cares for her. The boy responds that he needs to sleep on it, that he needs time to make such a commitment. They end up going all the way and the song ends with the boy and girl remembering back to that night, as the girl sings in the final chords,
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we were glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife.
The album comes to an end with ‘For Crying Out Loud’, a nine-minute soul wrenching ballad, backed mostly with a subdued piano. This is another track that really lets Meat Loaf’s voice shine through, singing once again of the girl who left him. He laments about their lost love and how empty he feels without her, finally telling her “For crying out loud, you know I love you”.
Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman created a masterpiece with this album, Steinman taking the basics of rock ‘n’ roll and love and rearranging them, layering them, turning them almost into a classical music vein. Producer Todd Rundgren’s mastery behind the mixing board added the sonic punch and thick sound that became a signature of the album.
Bat Out of Hell became one of the biggest selling albums of all time, with an estimated sales of 43 million copies worldwide. Meat Loaf and Steinman created something rare and special, a multi-layered rock album with not one stale track on it. Every cut works, every cut is a gem in its own way.
Meat Loaf continues to tour and record today, but no record he made or will make will come close to the sonic perfection of Bat Out of Hell.