Legend has it that sometime during the mid-sixties Marvin Lee Aday, a football player at Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas Texas, was called a meat loaf by his coach after a particularly inept performance. The football career ended but the nickname remained.
By the mid-seventies Meat Loaf had acted in the play Hair, released an album with Stoney Murphy, provided vocals for Ted Nugent, and acted in the film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Most importantly he had met Jim Steinman at a casting call and the two began planning an album together. Their vision finally came to fruition in the fall of 1977.
Bat Out Of Hell has now sold in excess of forty million copies and is ranked among the top ten best selling albums of all time. It continues to sell close to 200,000 copies a year. I am still amazed that this inexperienced duo could entice Todd Rundgren to produce the album plus attract pianist Roy Bittan, sax player Edgar Winter and drummer Max Weinberg to lend support. Even the cover art by Richard Corben is some of the best in rock history.
Eagle Rock Entertainment has now reached back into the archives to release a DVD titled Bat Out Of Hell: The Original Tour which presents Meatloaf and keyboardist/songwriter Steinman at a June 1978 concert stop in support of their release. Originally filmed for the German Rockpalast television show, it has sat on the shelf for three decades.
The DVD checks in at only 85 minutes and is not their complete performance. The cover songs, “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Johnny B. Goode” were performed that evening but are not included. Also missing are the Bat Out Of Hell ballads “Heaven Can Wait” and “For Crying Out Loud.”
What are included are the other five songs from the original album plus an instrumental introduction by Steinman titled “Great Boleros Of Fire” and a final reprise of “All Revved Up With No Place To Go.”
Meat Loaf live is more of a performer than a singer. His vocals sometime wander off key but he gets by with his dramatic showmanship. Karla DeVito, who has a great rock voice, is the female foil taking over for Ellen Foley who sang on the original release.
“Bat Out Of Hell,” “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth,” “All Revved Up With No Place To Go,” “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” and “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad,” all receive dramatic and extended performances. It is really performance art within a rock concert setting.
There is also an interesting interview with Steinman and the Loaf which was recorded for German television at the time. The picture quality is limited by the recording equipment of the day but is still more than passable.
All in all Bat Out Of Hell: The Original Tour is an interesting look into the history of one of rock’s enduring albums.