Raiding the Rockpalast archives once again, Eagle Vision presents Meat Loaf live from Frankfurt Germany, June 1978, in support of the classic Bat Out Of Hell, an epic album of love songs, both ballads and rockers filled with theatrical emotion reflecting the teenage characters of the stories being told.
Jim Steinman, the album’s songwriter and referred to by Meat Loaf as his partner, plays keyboards and contributes speaking parts. Singing background vocals and the female lead on “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” is Karla DeVito, recognizable from the song’s video though the vocals were by Ellen Foley. Backed by a talented band of musicians, including Bruce Kulick of Grand Funk Railroad and KISS, five of the album’s seven tracks are played.
The concert opens with the instrumental “Great Boleros of Fire.” Though not on the original album, a live version has since made its way onto re-released versions of the CD where it leads into the title track as it does here. The song “Bat Out of Hell” is Steinman’s attempt to create a great car-crash song. It opens fast, though the tempo fluctuates throughout. Meat Loaf belts out the lyrics about making the most of the night because he’ll be gone when the morning comes. The band creates a racing motorcycle that flies along until the song’s end in a tragic blaze of glory.
Opening with an eerie, spoken-word exchange inquiring whether a woman will offer herself “to the wolf with the red roses,” “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)” immediately loses its spookiness and becomes a straightforward pop song you’d expect from a ’60s girl group. Steinman then gives another, even odder, spoken-word recitation, which leads into a great guitar solo before “All Revved Up With No Place To Go,” a song every young boy who wanted a young girl he couldn’t have will surely identify with.
The band members shine during an extended 15-minute intro where everyone gets a solo and then they deliver “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” the best song ever written about young lust and its ramifications. Oh, the fond memories of being “barely seventeen….and…barely dressed” in a parked car. Meat Loaf chats up Karla and they begin kissing as the band gets into a great groove. I was worried there would be no Phil Rizutto’s baseball call but it thankfully showed up. Before getting to home, Karla stands up and wants to know if she is going to get what she wants before he gets what he wants:
“Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?”
Rather than commit, he hopes to sidestep her by suggesting they sleep on it first, but she’s not falling for that. His hormones win out and he swears he will love her “to the end of time,” but like many, many couples who have found themselves in similar situations, the song concludes with them “praying for the end of time/ To hurry up and arrive” so they can end their time together. They should be playing these cautionary tales in school when teaching sex education. This live version finds the couple really going at it verbally.
After band introductions, they play “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad.” It’s a sad tale about the end of a relationship caused by the end of a previous relationship. The narrator was left by a woman who didn’t love him and now he won’t allow himself to love anyone else again.
The video doesn’t look very good due to the combination of its age, the stage lighting, and the placement of the cameras. Occasional artifacts can be seen, the colored lights aren’t always bright, and the performers are caught backlit many times. But the music, in Dolby Digital Stereo, and the performance make it all worth it.
A bonus feature presents an interview with Meat Loaf and Steinman. We learn they met doing theatre, which is no surprise considering how theatrical the songs are. Steinman gives insight into the album, and it’s very good to see he gets well-deserved time in the spotlight. He cites Richard Wagner, Elvis Presley, and Bruce Springsteen as music he likes, which is certainly evident from hearing Bat Out Of Hell.