Rock’ N’Roll Hero
Sit back ladies and gents, this is going to be a BIGGIE.
When I was 14, I first heard Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love”, and it blew my mind, and opened a lifelong love of the man’s voice and Jim Steinman’s epic rock opera lyrics and music. For Christmas ’93, my folks bought me “Bat Out Of Hell II”, my first CD and a CD I still own to this day. I was intrigued – II? What the hell was Bat Out Of Hell I?
My Uncle Jeff provided the answer. A battered and worn cassette tape copy of Meat ‘n’ Jim’s first album. I listened it to through old headphones, on my Uncle’s threadbare carpet, and fell in love with it. I soon found a copy of that on CD, followed in swift succession by “Dead Ringer”, and Meat’s subsequent Steinman-free albums, which I still enjoyed (but not as much as the partnership songs).
This was all pre-internet of course, and it wasn’t until years later that I discovered Jim Steinman has recorded a solo album, “Bad For Good”. And it was a crazy, vocally strained, music archaeology surprise to me. For this was the true follow-up to “Bat Out Of Hell”, written before “Dead Ringer” – and I’d heard unknowingly heard many of it’s tracks in some shape or form in many other places over the years…
So What The Hell Happened?
“Bat Out Of Hell” was released in 1977 to massive success, and Meat Loaf toured extensively off the back of the album throughout 1978. While Meat toured, Steinman had been working away on the songs for the follow-up, an album to be entitled “Renegade Angel”. Unfortunately, the strain of touring so extensively had ruined Meat Loaf’s voice, and struggles with coping with the new-found fame and popularity had also contributed to delaying “Renegade Angel”. As more and more time passed, Steinman grew frustrated, and eventually opted to record the album himself, released under the title “Bad For Good” in 1981.
The album is a fun oddity, and it’s clear from the outset that it was intended for Meat Loaf’s powerful vocals. Steinman’s vocals are good, but it’s clear he lacks the sheer power and range to really make the songs soar the way Meat Loaf later would. It didn’t stop the album from being a success (mainly in Europe, not so much States-side)
Bad For Good – What became of the Renegade Angel?
- “Bad for Good”
- “Lost Boys and Golden Girls”
- “Love and Death and an American Guitar”
- “Stark Raving Love”
- “Out of the Frying Pan (And into the Fire)”
- “Surf’s Up”
- “Dance in My Pants” (duet with Karla DeVito)
- “Left in the Dark”
- “The Storm”
- “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”
When I first read the track listing it was immediately apparent that many of these songs had appeared (and often gained better exposure) elsewhere. And after listening to the album, it’s clear that it had further musical influence on lots of the Steinman songs that followed it.
Although “Renegade Angel” never materialised as a true Meat Loaf album, it’s possible to resconstruct a version of it as over the last two decasdes, Meat Loaf has periodically gone back and covered many of the songs from “Bad For Good”.
Let’s start at the beginning, compare the originals to the covers, and rebuild the album from the ground up.
Bad for Good
(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bat Out of Hell III”)
Personally, I prefer Steinman’s version to Meat Loaf’s. Steinman’s version may be more strained, and a bit raw, but it’s feels less over-blown and less over-produced than the version that Meat Loaf covered for “Bat Out Of Hell III”. I think after so long, the newer version is almost trying too hard t impress, and it shows.
The epic Steinman original…
The over-produced Meat Loaf version…
Lost Boys and Golden Girls
(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bat Out of Hell II”)
The “Bat II” version wins out here, primarily because Steinman himself assisted with the cover. It really shows how beneficial it is to the song when the two artists combine their strengths – Meat’s vocals and Steinman’s improved production really lift this one.
Meat Loaf’s cover…
Love and Death and An American Guitar
(remixed by Jim Steinman for “Bat Out Of Hell II”, retitled “Wasted Youth”)
A spoken track, the same Steinman vocal is used for “Bat II”, but with added sound effects. The “wasted youth” spoken sample is used from the following track on “Bat II”, “Good Girls Go To Heaven”, to tie this track in as a mini prologue for it..
The sound effected version for “Bat Out Of Hell II”
Stark Raving Love
(later used as the basis for Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need A Hero”)
For me, one of the highlights of the album, especially as it’s one of the few songs on the album not to have been re-recorded by Meat Loaf, although it’s clearly BEGGING to be re-done with his legendary bombast. It tests Steinman, but he’s singing his heart out on this sheer madness. Steinman would later use the intro of the song, some other bits of it and an all new set of lyrics to engineer Bonnie Tyler’s massive hit “Holding Out For A Hero”. A contender for “Bat Out Of Hell IV”…?
Steinman’s bombastic original version…
Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero”, with a familiar intro…
Out of the Frying Pan
(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bat Out of Hell II”)
Another case of the “Bat II” version being hugely superior, again primarily because Steinman himself assisted with the cover. Meat’s vocals are strongier, the music is ballsier, the production greater… a terrific update and one of my favourite tracks.
Jim Steinman’s barnstorming original….
… and Meat Loaf’s terrific cover for “Bat Out Of Hell II”
(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bad Attitude”)
There’s not a vast amount of difference here. Meat Loaf’s vocal are predictably stronger, but the song itself actually lends itself to Stienman’s style fairly well.
Here’s the Meat Loaf cover…
And the original by Steinman…
Dance in My Pants
A spiritual successor to the “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” duet from “Bat I”, this crazy song featuring Steinman absolutely HAMMING it, has not been (yet) re-done by Meat Loaf for any of his albums.
Meat Loaf has covered this track, but only at live shows….
And for my money, the more impressive original (with bonkers video)..
Left in the Dark
(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Welcome to the Neighborhood”)
Steinman’s original version was slightly longer with a spoken intro, with a vocal performance from Steinman that strains but actually works really given the song’s content. The subsequent Meat Loaf (and before that, Streisand) version has more powerful vocals, but the original fares well against them.
The original, with Steinman’s spoken intro…
Meat Loaf’s version…
Barbara Streisand’s version of this song, prior to Meat Loaf’s take on it.
(never fully re-recorded, used in part as an intro for “Seize The Night” on “Bat Out Of Hell III”)
Right, this one is a weird one…. An instrumental-only track from the bonus EP, the first portion of the “The Storm” was re-orchestrated as the intro for “Seize The Night” on “Bat Out Of Hell III”. The rest of “Seize The Night” was pulled together from an aborted song Steinman was writing for a Batman musical that never got completed, which itself was subsequently reworked into a German vampire musical, “Tanz der Vampire” as the song “Carpe Noctem”. Absolutely crazy patchworking there. The lyrics from “Seize The Night” seem more Batman than vampire though…. Seize this insanity.
Jim Steinman’s original
Jim Steinman’s re-working into “Tanz der Vampire”
Meat Loaf’s cannibalised Frankensong….
Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through
(Re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bat Out of Hell II”)
The last track of the bonus EP, this song is yet another example of where the partnership of Steinman and Meat Loaf just massively improves the work. The later version is more confidently orchestrated, strongly sung, and just richer sounding in general.
Jim Steinman’s slow, tinkly version
Meat Loaf’s smooth cover.
So there you have it – that’s what you can reconstruct of “Renegade Angel”, at least for now. Jim Steinman would later write a new album’s worth of material for Meat Loaf to record, resulting in “Dead Ringer” being released in 1981, becoming their true second album, but it’s interesting and tantalising to see what could have been…