After going through my least favorite songs and favorite outtake, today I’ll reach 1000 Meat Loaf plays tracked on Last.fm. To celebrate this joyous occasion, here is my stab at the Best Top 5 Meat Loaf Songs … ever.
5. In the Land of the Pig, The Butcher Is King
Every “best x ever” list has to have a WTFFWYT entry. This one’s mine. “Land of the Pig” is my favorite track on Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose by a landslide. It’s a hard rocking celebration of going over the top. Steve Vai leads the guitar assault, and there’s a harp buried in the mix somewhere too.
4. Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
The last song Jim wrote for Bat Out Of Hell II: Back into Hell…, pushing it back another couple of months. The lyrics tell three episodes from the narrator’s childhood, and deals with death, violence, love and loss. And while it’s thick with metaphore, I think it’s also one of the most straight-forward, direct lyrics Jim has ever written.
(Here I must pause to mention the terrific video directed by Michael Bay. Ok, so he went on to direct craptacular movies like “Armageddon” and “Transformers”, but he made the best videos Meat Loaf has ever had.)
Musically, the song’s awesome too. It’s soft when it needs to be, just to turn into rocking, full-on pompous kickassness a bit later. Steinman reworked the song into Tanz der Vampire as Die unstillbare Gier.
3. Bat out of Hell
For the past ten years or so, I’ve been wearing a dog tag. And unlike what most people suspect, it doesn’t contain any information about me. It reads,
Breaking out of my body and flying away / like a bat out of hell. Yes, I’ll freely admit that I’m that much of fan-boy. Or a dork or geek or whatever.
“Bat” just rocks. It jumps from the starting line with its two minute instrumental overture, and races via Todd Rundgren’s motorcycle guitar solo to the finale. And Meat just keeps on wailing.
2. I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)
I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday: I was watching the broadcast of the 1993 Grand Gala du Disc, and this fat guy comes on to sing a song. My mother tells me he used to famous back in the day when she was young, but I don’t care: this thing he is doing right now, that song—it changes my world. For the first time, the music grabs me, crawls into my brain and doesn’t let go. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.
Unlike that song, “Anything for Love” never gets old. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it, but even when I heard it a dozen times or so while preparing last years presentation on the titular “that”, I could not help but love every second of it. I’ve come to know “Anything for Love” so well that anything but the 12-minute full-length album version feels like a cheat. Imagine my frustration with all live versions I’ve witnessed: ever since I started seeing Meat Loaf live in 1996, he’s dropped the second verse.
And my 1000th Meat Loaf track logged on Last.FM is—
1. For Crying Out Loud
As far as I’m concerned, “For Crying Out Loud” is Meat Loaf’s best song ever, bar none. Period. End of discussion. And if you disagree, you’re deluded. It starts out really low key with just a piano and a singer. Then, in the second verse, the piano is joined by the orchestra. Slowly building up. Violins commenting on the lyrics. Slowly. Ever so slow. Then, suddenly, a drum break that makes the one in “In the Air Tonight” cry for its mommy rips through the song, and drives it all the way to the chorus. Then it breaks down again to just piano and strings for the majestic finale. Best vocal performance by Meat Loaf ever. Best Jim Steinman song ever. It’s awesome covered in awesomesauce.
Since I don’t upload songs that are widely available (and besides, who doesn’t own a copy of Bat Out Of Hell?), here’s an outtake from the 1978 Live from the El Mocambo, January 18, 1978 promo LP.
⇒ For Crying Out Loud, live at El Mocambo, 1978 [15MB, right click, save as…]