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Old 09 Aug 2006, 19:35   #1
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Arrow Meat Loaf Biography

From Mercury Records

In 1977, Meat Loaf made history with the release of Bat Out Of Hell, which featured the smash hits “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth.” Sixteen years later, lightning struck twice with Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which included the international chart-topper “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and earned Meat Loaf a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Solo Performance. Combined, the two Bat albums sold nearly 50 million copies worldwide, establishing Bat Out Of Hell as a true musical franchise. Now, rock’s most epic adventure has returned once more to complete the trilogy.

Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose more than lives up to the standard of excellence set by its two predecessors, and stands as one of Meat Loaf’s most symphonic, emotional and personal journeys yet. “I knew I would have to shoot for the moon or the end of the universe if I was going to do Bat Out Of Hell III,” Meat Loaf says. “The Bat just has a life of its own, so you can’t say you’re gonna top it or you’re gonna beat it, you just have to try to do something special because lots of the songs on those other records hit a real emotional chord in people. So this time, I wanted to make that kind of connection with every song.”

The new album captures the theatricality, elegance and melodicism of the first two Bats, but it’s even more diverse and dynamic, featuring a range of orchestration and instrumentation that’s nothing short of breathtaking. The first single, the Jim Steinman-penned “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” is a sweeping, stirring duet with Marion Raven (formerly of M2M and an international star in her own right) that’s as powerful as it is passionate, “Blind as a Bat” starts with haunting piano, forlorn strings and subtle electronic percussion before launching into an anthemic number fueled equally by tears and adrenaline. And the title track, written by Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), John 5 (Marilyn Manson) & producer Desmond Child is an industrial-tinged rocker filled with buzzing guitars and clattering drums that duel with dizzying strings and delicate piano, as Meat Loaf seesaws between raw aggression and aching vulnerability. Featuring aggressive, modern production, the track fits comfortably next to anything that’s currently on rock radio.

“Overall, I wanted this to be edgier and rockier than the other two Bats,” Meat Loaf says of the majestic disc. “Bats are typically piano-based, and we still have plenty of piano, but I have a lot of guitar-based stuff as well. I’ve always been mentally more hard rock than I’ve shown on records before, and I think the concerts tend to be where that’s come across. So’ I’ve pushed that this time. I was like, ‘Hey, let’s rock this sucker.’ So, we did and it scared the hell out of me.”

To achieve a perfect synergy with the other two Bat Out Of Hell albums, Meat Loaf returned to the artists who helped make those records great. First, he acquired seven songs from longtime collaborator Jim Steinman, who penned the first Bat and produced and wrote the second one. Then, he returned to Rundgren, whose grandiose production shaped and defined the first album, and had him write some additional material for the new record. Finally, Meat Loaf searched for a producer. After a false start, he teamed up with Desmond Child, who has written hit singles for Kiss, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Cher, Ricky Martin and others.

“I played it really cool with Desmond at first,” chuckles Meat Loaf. “I had a meeting with him, and afterwards I said, ‘We’ll, see. We’ll talk later.’ But I was really happy that he wanted to work on the record. You could just see his excitement and that it wasn’t just another record for him to do. This was a pinnacle for him, and you could sense that he would go completely gung-ho and would give it everything he had, which he has done completely.”

Child was so gung-ho about working on the album that Meat Loaf almost suffered for his decision. Not only was Child a consummate professional, he was also a rigid perfectionist and worked with the singer to make sure every vocal take was exactly right.

“I thought Jim Steinman was tough and wants everything perfect,” Meat Loaf says. “Well, Desmond wants it even more perfect and I didn’t think that was possible. I’ve never worked so hard. I got a vocal coach for about four months and I’ve never done that before. But all the work really paid off because the vocals all sound great.”

The first single from Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose is the Steinman-penned “It’s all Coming Back to Me,” which was a huge hit for Celine Dion in 1996 -- but it’s not exactly a cover. Meat Loaf says it was his to begin with.

“That was originally supposed to be on Bat Out Of Hell II,” he explains. “I wanted it to be a duet, and Jimmy said, ‘Let’s save it for Bat III.’ So, we were saving it, but then it was given to Celine Dion. And so, I was bound and determined to do it on Bat III because that’s what it’s purpose was, and I think we did a version that’s different enough from Celine Dion’s to warrant being on the record.”

While Steinman and Rundgren were paramount to Bat III, they weren’t the only contributors. Grammy Award winning studio engineer Greg Collins (U2, Gwen Stefani) mixed the album, David Campbell arranged the strings and Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 (ex-Marilyn Manson), guitar hero Steve Vai pitched in on the songwriting. Also, the album includes guitar work by Vai, John 5 and session whiz John Shanks, as well as an unmistakable signature appearance by Queen guitarist Brian May on “Bad For Good.”

“He came in and it was just amazing to watch him,” Meat Loaf says. “He wasn’t just there doing a session, he was in there playing like, ‘Yeah! I’m Brian May. This is my sound’ And everybody was like that, which was so cool. It was never like a studio record. Everyone was playing like they were in a band and it was a band project with Desmond Child as the leader. People’s emotions were showing and it was fabulous to watch.”

One reason Meat Loaf has received such lofty, and well-deserved praise over the years is because he, too, is fabulous to watch. He was born in Dallas, Texas and in 1967 formed a group called Meat Loaf Soul. But it was a role in a West Coast production of the musical Hair that served as his launching point. From there, he performed in an off-Broadway production of Rainbow, then landed a part in More Than You Deserve, a musical written by classically trained pianist Jim Steinman. Following a legendary appearance in the movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Meat Loaf started working with Steinman on songs for a modern musical of Peter Pan, which eventually turned into 1977’s Bat Out Of Hell.

The album made Meat Loaf a star. However, in the years that followed, he stopped working with Steinman and released several albums of his own, and with mixed results. Then, in 1993, he reunited with Steinman for Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which revisited and revised the bombast and melodrama that made the first Bat so popular. Meat Loaf returned two years later with Welcome To The Neighborhood and his in-concert retrospective Live Around The World followed a year after that. Then, in 2003, Meat Loaf released Couldn’t Have Said It Better, which included four collaborations with Nikki Sixx.

Though it may seem like a current move to return to classic form, the roots of Bat Out Of Hell III actually date back to 1991 when Meat Loaf started working on Bat II. At the time, Steinman decided that the project was too lofty to do it justice with just two records, so he and Meat Loaf decided to conclude the trilogy in 2003. But Steinman suffered a stroke and was in rigorous physical therapy when Meat Loaf wanted to begin working on the album. In addition, legal issues that have since been resolved, prevented Steinman from helming the record. So, in 2003, Meat Loaf started assembling songwriters and players and started recording the album with Child in October 2005. The team worked in three studios with five engineers and finished in under a year.

“That’s really fast for a Bat Out Of Hell record,” says Meat Loaf. “The others have taken a year and a half to two and a half years to complete. But there was just a lot of magic there this time. We didn’t run into a lot of obstacles and people came in and played extraordinarily and did extraordinary work and sang really well. Sometimes when you’re doing a record you get these moments of magic in the studio where everything is working the right way for you. That’s how this one was the whole time.”

For Meat Loaf, however, the biggest difference between the other two Bat records and this one wasn’t the sound of the disc or the speed in which it came together. The greatest changes surfaced from the way he approached his vocals, which are every bit as passionate as performances and even more personal.

“On the other two records, the vocals were all character driven, and this one is way more me,” he explains. “Before, I used to actually visualize other people singing those songs. There’s teenagers, there’s women. And when I close my eyes onstage, that’s the visual. And for this one, I didn’t have that. I just had what was inside and what I wanted to get out.”

What comes out is a spectrum of expressions and emotion set in a cinematic framework that’s both escapist and heartfelt. From the lovelorn yearning of “Cry Over Me” to the nightmarish near-psychosis of “Land of the Pigs (The Butcher is King),” Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose is epic, entrancing and climactic – an appropriate conclusion to an exhilarating trilogy – or is it?

“Someone mentioned the possibility of Bat IV to me, and I just giggled,” Meat Loaf says. “I don’t know, this could be it. Once I’m locked into something like a Bat record, it becomes a real driving force and I become very motivated, but right now it’s really difficult to imagine doing another one. I’m just really happy with this one.”
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