The Sound of Muzak

After the release of Bat out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, it became very clear to me: Diane Warren is the devil incarnate. Or at least, she has sold her eternal soul to Lucifer in exchange for the opportunity to write the most craptacular and dull song to ever disgrace any album with the word Hell in the title.

Ever since 1995’s Welcome to the Neighborhood Warren has contributed songs to Meat Loaf’s albums. And I must say, I’ve never been impressed by the lot of them. While “Not a Dry Eye in the House” is a great song, and “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” is decent enough, be it a bit unremarkable and not really a duet, that’s the cream of the crop. Two of the other three songs that made the actual album (“You’re Right, I Was Wrong” and “Cry Over Me“) are contending for being both the worst song on the album, as well as being the worst Meat Loaf song in the History of crappy songs by Meat Loaf. The other two (“If This Is the Last Kiss (Let’s Make It Last All Night)” and “Unsaid”) are both pretty dull, bland and weak.

But then again, Warren has a history of (co-)writing dull, bland, weak or just plain bad songs: Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now“, Aerosmith’s most un-Aerosmithy ballad snoozefest called “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing“, Rhythm of the Night, Un-break My Heart, so I shouldn’t be all that surprised either.

That said, she’s written some songs I quite like, like “Not a Dry Eye in the House”, Cher’s “Just Like Jesse James” [download] (co-written by Desmond Child) and in a guilty-pleasure sort of way I dig “Can’t Fight the Moonlight“, but my favorite song by her, is Dusty Springfield’s version of “Wherever Would I Be?” [download]. Or maybe that’s just because I’m having an enormous Dusty-kick lately.

As a bonus, “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” from The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays the Muzak of Meat Loaf [download]. Hold that elevator for me, will you?

Hooray for Vinyl

Today is Vinyl Record Day, on what may or may not be the 130th anniversary of the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison. But whether or not the day is completely accurate — as some say it happened in November or even December 1877 — hooray for records.

When you’re a collector of the Music of Jim Steinman and/or Meat Loaf and Related Stuff of the type that has to have it all, you can’t get around the LP. Mr. Loaf’s very first recordings have never been released on CD. Anything he did before the Ted Nugent album “Free-for-All” still is only available on vinyl. Well, there is a compilation set that includes both the A- and B-side of the “More Than You Deserve” single, but both have some third party additions, so that hardly counts. And then you have a decent amount of alternative versions, single edits, extended remixes and live tracks that are LP-only.

In the Steinman-department, nearly everything has been released in the digital realm. Apart from two tracks, the “Delta House Theme” and “Shadows on the Freeway” there are only a few single edits out there. Unless you want to count some of the Bonnie Tyler B-sides he had nothing to do with.

I’ve dug up some vinyl-only stuff:

Bring Me the Head of Jerry Garcia (single version) by Iron Prostate
A couple of years ago, George Tabb of Iron Prostate made the demo version of this song available through his website. That demo was produced by Jim Steinman, and supposedly features the cast of Cats as backup vocalist for the chorus. Iron Prostate broke up during the recording of their second album, possibly produced by Jim. Who had nothing to with the single version, released in 1992 on Vital Records. That version was produced by George Tabb and Jim Fourniadis.

I’m Gonna Love Her for Both of Us (vinyl rip) by Meat Loaf
Some people aren’t quite impressed with the CD-release of “Dead Ringer”, saying that the mastering blows compared to the LP. Here’s one track to figure out if that’s true. You’ll need to provide your own CD though.

Once Upon a Time b/w Hello by Popcorn Blizzard
In 1968 Meat Loaf was in the band Popcorn Blizzard, and they cut a single, of which approx. 7,000 copies were released in and around Michigan. Luckily for me, I was able to pick up a copy of the “Michigan Mixture Volume I” bootleg LP in Utrecht some years ago.

Downloads can be found on the downloads page. Pops and crackle are on the house this time.

Who’d’ve thought…

When the “five things you might not know about me” meme was making its way across the internet a couple of months ago, I decided that when the time would be right, I would chime in. So, here are five things you probably didn’t know about me:

  1. The highest mark I’ve ever received on a report card was a 10. That was the average over three tests, in my third year high school biology course, with subjects like evolution, genetics, heredity — you know, the works. The best part of it was the look on the face of our class-overachiever when I topped his 9,8.
  2. If there is one thing I loathe to do, it’s talking about myself. For little over three years, I’ve been talking with a psychologist about that on a semi-regular basis. Well, until last month, that is. The general consensus seemed to be that I should be doing fine now.
  3. Not only do I play a mean air guitar, but I could probably start a one-man air band.
  4. You know, that online dating thing, it’s ab-so-lu-te-ly not for me. I gave it a (half-hearted) shot earlier this year, but I guess that my fabulous personally just doesn’t translate well into the digital realm. Oh, well. Guess I’ll have to keep on holding out for my heroine somewhere else.
  5. Despite all my perceived flaws, I am still a work of art. No, really, I am.

So. Now you know.

Did I play that?

With just over a day left in the month, I have about 99% of my bandwidth left to burn. It would be a shame to let that go to waste. So, welcome to episode one of something that may or may not become a semi-regular feature on this weblog: “Did I play that?”

As you might know, I have recently moved to a new apartment. One of the reasons for that (albeit a minor one) was the lack of space for a record player. I have a decent amount of vinyl — most of it of course Meat Loaf and/or Jim Steinman related — and for the last five, six years, nothing to play it with. Getting a record player was high on my list of priorities.

When I got back from Hungary a few weeks ago, my bosses had a nice surprise for me. As a present for my new home, they gave me a USB turntable. Hooking it up to my amp wasn’t much of a problem, and neither was hooking it up to my computer. Plug the USB-out of the turntable into a USB-in, change some settings, and go. I might just go ahead and upgrade the element, but all in all, it’s a great piece of gear.

Since I last had a record player at my disposal, I’ve acquired quite a lot of new material on vinyl. Some of it was also available on CD, but a significant chunk is only available on LP. So you can imagine that I wanted to explore the latter bit first. One of those items was a fairly unknown Meat Loaf single.

In 1987, Meat Loaf released his first official live album, called Live. From that album, “Bat Out of Hell” was released as a single. Both the 7? and the 12? version of that single contain a rather brutal edit. Those who think that what mr. Loaf did to “I’d Do Anything for Love” on his current tour was sacrilegious, are just going to love this. [single info] [download]

As a bonus, I’ve also included another Dutch cover of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. This one is by Paul de Leeuw and Imca Marina. [details] [download]

First Lines: Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows

So. Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows. How does it end? Let me tell you:

After a quick sweep through the wizarding world and just the slightest bit of luck (who’d imagine a simple spell like “accio Horcruxes” would work?), Harry and his friends gather the last remaining Horcruxes, artifacts created by Dark Magic and containing fragments of the Dark Lord’s soul, rendering him near immortal. Unable to destroy them, Harry and his company hold council with the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix. Even the greatest minds are stumped. Whatever they throw at the vile relics, whatever spell or potion they come up with, nothing is able to even scratch them.

Then, from a portrait, Dumbledore (surely the wisest wizard of his age), speaks:

The Horcruxes cannot be destroyed, Harry, by any craft that anyone here possesses. The Horcruxes were conjured from the fires of Mount Doom. Only there can they be unmade. They must be taken deep into The Deathly Hallows and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence they came. One of you must do this.

A map is summoned, and the Deathly Hallows, a volcanous mountain range in eastern Albania, is located. Not wasting another moment, Harry, Ron and Hermione get the Horcruxes, and *poof*, they apparate at the foot of Mount Doom, deep in the Deadly Hallows. Climbing to the summit, they are so focused on their task, that they don’t notice that the treacherous Snape — appointed by Lord You-Know-Who as guardian of Mount Doom — is following them. Descending into the crater, they cross a small and fragile bridge to a platform in the very heart of the volcano.

Savoring the moment of their triumph over the Dark Lord, the three friends are disarmed by Snape with a simple Expelliarmus-spell. With their wands flying into the fiery pit below, they have no choice but surrender the Horcruxes. What no-one suspected, was that the power of his Dark Master’s soul would react violently to Snape’s treacherous nature. As he looses his wand, a fight ensues, which ends with Snape slipping over a lock of his own greasy hair, which Hermione had unceremoniously yanked from his head after he bit of Ron’s left-ear. Taking the evil relics with him, Snape falls to his (fiery) doom. Disapparating again, the friends return to the Headquarters of the Order, an abandoned shack in an anonymous suburb of London.

From all over England, reports of Dark Magic being lifted come in. Quickly an all-out search for the weakened Dark Lord is organized. Of course, it is Harry who finally finds and corners Lord What’s-His-Face. Weakened beyond hope of resurrection by the destruction of the largest part of his soul, Lord You-Know-Who begs throws his last trick: he transforms to his animal self. But alas! With his powers nearly depleted, Lord Voldemort is unable to transform to his usual lion form, which would have ripped Harry to pieces. No, all the Dark Lord is now able to manage is a cute fluffy little kitten. Adoringly, Harry picks up little Voldy, and walks of towards the sunset…

Book read
JK Rowling — Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows
First line
Two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.

As a bonus, I’ve dug up a five year old trailer for the then current Harry Potter movie. Enjoy.

And yes, I know, the book stuff is getting old. I’ll try to be back with the regular programming shortly.