20 November 2006

Bat-3's a lemon and I want money back...

Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell 3 : The Monster Is Loose (BOOH-3) was released in the US of A on 31-10-2006 and my pre-ordered copy from Amazon.com arrived on 13-11-2006. Very efficient shipping, that. At US$25 for 4 CDs, it'd better be.

The third album of the Bat Out Of Hell series, my expectations were rather high even before I first heard it. But after I ran it through the hifi once, my first reaction was : "Huh?"

"Huh?" in a sense of saying "Is that it?". What do you expect? BOOH-3 is no longer a 100% Jim Steinmann work, unlike the previous Bat albums. Produced by Desmond Child, it featured 14 tracks, 7 of which are songs written by Steinmann long ago, but covered by Meat Loaf on Bat 3. The other 7 tracks are written Desmond Child, Nikki Sixx, John 5, James Michael, Diane Warren et al.

As such, the whole album does sound disjointed because Steinmann is no longer there to thread everything together.

Also, it sounded as if Desmond Child told everybody that "we are going to write seven songs that sound and feel like Jim Steinman's songs". Well, some did turn out ok, but some fall flat on their butts.

The Monster Is Loose
This is the title track written by Desmond Child/Nikki Sixx/John 5, so naturally I will compare it to "Bat Out Of Hell" on the first album and "Back Into Hell" on the second album. A lot of people raved about this title track, but not me. Meat Loaf sounded as if he is trying to please the music rather than having the music support him. And nu-metal? Not in a million years. Even the synthetic "Back Into Hell" is miles ahead. And worse, the song starts to gnaw at my ears with each listening.

Blind As A Bat
Written By James Michael/Desmond Child, I did not give this track any hope when I first heard it but after a few runs, I find that it grew on me. If these guys want to imitate Steinmann, I would say they achieve it best with Blind As A Bat. It has the makings of a classic. If Meat wants some more loose change, he should release this as the second single.

It's All Coming Back To Me Now
The first Steinman song on this album. A lot of people said this is the best track off BOOH-3. The problem is that if this song was released for the first time today, I will agree. But Celine Dion sang it 10 years ago, and one will always compare it to Celine's version which I find to be more powerful because she sang it solo and imparted a sense of lost. Marion Raven's part of this duet is interesting at first but tell me what you feel after listening to it 10 times. It gets irritatting.

Bad For Good
Bad For Good was written by Steinman 25 years ago and was supposed to be on some other projects but ended up here. Add to it Brian May's guitar, vintage Steinman 30 words per sentence lyrics and oh-those-backup-vocals and I am in nirvana. Best of the seven Steinman tracks.

Cry Over Me
Written by Diane Warren. Why the hell is this song on the album? Meat Loaf ran out of fillers?

In The Land Of The Pig, The Butcher Is King
An operatic Steinman track. Too bad this song got butchered by trying too hard. This song actually reminded me of John Williams' "Phantom Of The Paradise" album which is a satire of operatic rock, and John Williams did it better.

Montro is a short instrumental by D. Child/Holly Knight/Elena Casals while Alive is by D. Child/James Michael et al. Written and sounded in the vein of Blind As A Bat, it came as pick-me-up after the horrors of Cry Over Me. Not bad at all.

If God Could Talk
Marti Frederiksen and D. Child penned this one. Another pointless filler track.

If It Ain't Broke Break It
Steinman's "Live Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back" revisited, with the volume pumped up a wee bit more. Lemon is better.

What About Love
By D. Child/M/Frederiksen et al. Featuring Patti Russo. The problem is Meat is having so many duets on this album (there's four) it is starting to turn into an orgy. Get rid of Russo and the track would have ended up better.

Seize The Night
The problem with Seize The Night is that despite being a Steinman song and long in length, it was not written specifically for BOOH-3. Thus the essence of BOOH-3 is simply not there (BOOH-3 got essence?????). In fact there's strains of Back Into Hell guitar riffs in it, which made it worse. And that kids choir: What on Earth is it doing there? A few more listen and my ears will beg my intestines to seize my throat and kill me for subjecting them to this cruelty.

The Future Ain't What It Used To Be
A Steinman track, and featuring Jennifer Hudson. Meat is getting lucky tonight. Imagine that, folks. Urgh.

Cry To Heaven
An obvious attempt to do a "Heaven Can Wait" (BOOH-1) or "Lost Boys And Golden Girls" (BOOH-2). Forget it Meat. God can't hear you.

So there it is, my take on Bat Out Of Hell-3. I am no Rolling Stone magazine reviewer, so don't take my head off if I got things wrong.

I feel that Meat Loaf should not have done BOOH-3 without Steinman as writer/producer. They should have patched up their differences, fire all their lawyers, and sit down and record BOOH-3 together. They would have ended up with a Bat album worthy of the name instead of this mishmash of an album.

The only good thing Desmond Child did for Meat Loaf on this album is that he got Meat Loaf's vocals improved and Meat Loaf actually sounded better on this album than any of his previous works. In fact it was written somewhere that Desmond actually sent him for vocal training. Too bad Meat Loaf did not have the song material to really show off his much improved voice.

Now I have to wait another 10 years for Bat-4 (Yes yes I know, they say no Bat-4 and all that but then they once swore there will be no Bat-3 either). By 2016 Meat Loaf will be 59 years old. Does he still have the lungs to scream 30 words per sentence?

I rate Bat Out Of Hell -3 ** (2 stars out of five).

For comparison's sake, BOOH-1 rated **** while BOOH-2 rated *****.