Jim Steinman has one major regret from his early career, and that is giving in to the suits who suggested he allow his collaboration with singer Marvin Aday to be billed as a solo act. Otherwise, the sleeve would have read, “Bat Out of Hell, by Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman,” and the world would know his name, too.
Yes, despite the fact that the man has written all of Mr. Loaf’s hits, as well as hits that have given an immeasurable boost to performers like Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse of the Heart), Celine Dion (It’s All Coming Back To Me), Air Supply (Making Love Out of Nothing At All), and Sisters of Mercy (This Corrosion), the name Jim Steinman doesn’t exactly resonate with most folks. This is a grievous oversight, because Steinman is one of the greatest creative musical forces of our day.
Steinman’s compositions are not so much songs so as they are dense, compact chunks of rock opera. True, he has been criticized for the melodrama of his music. He has been accused of being over-the-top. But as he observed, “if you don’t go over the top, how can you see what’s on the other side?”
The other side is where Steinman went after abandoning the New York stage, where he landed fresh out of college, working with Joseph Papp. Disillusioned with the state of theatre, he and the star of his first show joined forces and ran off to the studio, armed with that star’s vocal talents, Todd Rundgren’s production skills, and the contents of Steinman’s fertile mind. What came out was the legendary Bat Out of Hell, an indescribable collection of theatrical rock arias, replete with screaming guitars, Meat Loaf’s operatic tenor, Ellen Foley’s Tyleresque belting, and in lieu of the kitchen sink, Phil Rizzuto.
The album sold like crazy, and although many critics tagged it a guilty pleasure, the pleasure was undeniable, and the album became one of the best sellers of the decade. It was what happened next, though, that created a peculiar little asterisk in rock history. Rumor had it that Meat Loaf was not up to the material that Steinman had written for his follow-up, and so Steinman performed it instead.
Eventually, Loaf recovered and, after releasing some other material without him, reunited with Steinman for a sequel. But this is not Mr. Loaf’s page. What of the little orphan album? Was there a spot on the musical menu for a Meat-less Steinman? And what happened to his career later on? No need to wait for the VH-1 docustory; just follow the link below, and get to know Jim Steinman, and what’s on the other side.