Meat Loaf – [Album]

Thursday, 20 May 2010

There are only a few guarantees in the music business. Counting on record sales is next to impossible these days stacked against digital retail and the fickle nature of it, and the timeline attached to phrases like “here today, gone tomorrow” and “fifteen minutes of fame” have been exponentially reduced; trends and fads are changing faster now than they ever before which makes most everyone's livelihood in the music business all that much more uncertain. With such instability in evidence, that some acts have gone unaffected by the passage of time is comforting somehow. For example, there is reassurance to be found in the fact that Meat Loaf (a.k.a. The single most unlikely rock star in history) hasn't released an album that has failed to at least reach the Silver sales threshold since 1971 and has only had one album (that's one in twelve) not go gold since 1981. That is an impressive margin, in any language. It gets even more incredible when one realizes that Michael Lee “Meat Loaf” Aday has not changed one iota in all that time; the singer has ignored trends and clearly regards all fads as passing (a perfect example lies in Bat Out Of Hell 2 – which came out and went multi-platinum worldwide at the height of Grunge). Simply said, Meat Loaf has plowed his own rock operatic path every step of the way through a career that has gone on for just less than four decades now, and done it without apology.

That there has been no change in Meat Loaf's approach on Hang Cool Teddy Bear is true on the surface of the album – the big love theatrics and searing guitar lines are as solid here as they have ever been – but noticeable in this run-time is the fact that there is an emphasis on rock and the trappings of it which,  combined with a significant decrease of the amount of overt melodrama that characterized songs like “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” and “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)” immediately reaches through speakers and grabs listeners' attention. Meat Loaf comes a lot closer to rockin' out with his cock out and his balls to the wall in songs like “Los Angeloser,” “If I Can't Have You” (featuring a guest appearance by Hugh “House” Laurie on piano), “Love Is Not Real/Next Time You Stab Me In The Back” and “Like A Rose” (featuring Jack Black) and such comparative aggression will flat-out shock listeners accustomed to hearing the singer tread a more melodramatic line, but he wears it incredibly well here. While, granted, those great big gang choruses that always mark the singer's work and make his songs seem like the stage production of a Greek tragedy do crop up from time to time on songs including “Song Of Madness,” they take a back seat to the guitars (some of which have been provided by Steve Vai) and a generally lighter air that exponentially improves fluffy, country roadhouse anthems like “Living On The Outside” and actually makes them uplifting.

Is that a new thing really though? No – in fact not much of Hang Cool Teddy Bear is particularly new fare for Meat Loaf, but it has been so long since the singer did anything truly lighthearted that many of the songs on this album feel like a refreshing change of pace. There's no telling how long this shift will last (I know it's only supposed to be a trilogy, but I'm betting there's a Bat Of Of Hell 4 in Meat Loaf somewhere), but Hang Cool Teddy Bear is fun for now.



Meat Loaf – “Prize Fighter Lover” – Hang Cool Teddy Bear


Hang Cool Teddy Bear
is out now (and, per tradition, has already achieved the Silver sales threshold). Buy it here on Amazon .

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