Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Marvin Lee (Part 2)

Last April, when his longtime friend and collaborator Jim Steinman died, Meat Loaf gave an emotional interview to Rolling Stone in which he concluded:

"I don’t want to die, but I may die this year because of Jim. I’m always with him and he’s right here with me now. I’ve always been with Jim and Jim has always been with me."

At the time, I wrote my own tribute, My Top Ten Jim Steinman Songs, although only 7 of them were recorded by Meat himself. A couple were Steinman solo (one, a spoken word track that also cropped up on Bat Out Of Hell II) and the other was Total Eclipse of the Heart, which was written for Meat, but for one reason or another ended up with Bonnie.

Anyway, that Top Ten only really scratched the surface. So here's another Ten great Meat/Jim collaborations...

Braver Than We Are, the long-awaited Meat/Jim reunion of 2016, was a treat for fans, though neither man was at his best. Meat's voice was long past its best and Jim had been struggling with health issues for years. But it was still great to see them make one more record together, and this track even brought back both Ellen Foley (the original Bat Out Of Hell female vocalist) and Karla Devito (who took Ellen's role in the tours and those iconic videos). The full length track is 11 minutes long (of course!) but the link above is to the edited video version. 

One of many songs recorded on Jim's ill-regarded (still much loved in this household) solo album, though it was originally written for Meat, whose voice just wasn't up to it at that time. 

I may never be able to answer the question of which is my favourite song called Surf's Up, this or the one Brian Wilson penned. I'm sure that's a much easier choice for the rest of you.  

Much mocked, full of 90s excess on top of the usual Steinman pomp and circumstance, and the fact that it dominated the singles chart in 1993 causes many to lump it in the same category as Bryan Adams' Robin Hood song. Perhaps its ubiquity has even rubbed off on me, since I never place it among my favourites from the terrible twosome, and maybe it's one of the few examples of a Steinman tune where the single edit is better than the full version... at least that doesn't cut the most typically Steinman lyric of all, "Will you hose me down in Holy Water if I get to hot?" That line alone is worth the price of admission. And anyone who tells you that Meat never reveals what it is that he won't do for love clearly hasn't listened to the lyrics.

Jim understood better than anyone that teenage angst was best expressed through hyperbole and, yes, even cliche. All-Revved Up is a song about pent up teenage lust, and Meat could play the role of frustrated teenager loser better than anyone this side of Jilted John. Edgar Winter blows the hell out of that sax too.

I was nothing but a lonely boy
Looking for something new
And you were nothing but a lonely girl
But you were something
Something like a dream come true
I was a varsity tackle and a hell of a block
When I played my guitar
I made the canyons rock but
Every Saturday night
I felt the fever grow
Do ya know what it's like
All revved up with no place to go

And then you get Roy Bittan on piano!

"I’ve never told this story, but Jim is gone now and it’s time: We had finished the demos in 1975 when he called me one night. He said, “There’s this guy down here at the Bottom Line.” He didn’t even say “Bruce Springsteen.” It was just “a guy.” This is 11 p.m. at night. He said, “There’s a guy doing what we do down here at the Bottom Line. You have to come down and see the second show.” I said, “Jim, I’m not going to come down there in the middle of the night.”

I didn’t go. Jim stayed for both shows. And Jim thought that [E Street Band keyboardist] Roy Bittan was legitimate. I guess Jim liked Springsteen. He felt Roy Bittan was one of the best piano players in the world and he wanted him on this record. He said, “This guy is better than me.”

"What Barry Manilow didn’t understand is that you can’t just have a great voice and sing a Jim Steinman song. You have to become a Jim Steinman song. You have to be the song. You don’t singthe song. You are the song."

Lyrically, starts out as a very Manilow song. Not the way Meat sings it, of course. And then it builds and builds, in that typical Steinman fashion of keeping building even after he runs out of bricks. That's the other thing about these songs: you need a colossal pair of lungs to get through them in one piece. 

Maybe higher than it deserves to be, one of the lesser lights from Bat Out Of Hell II, but this song for me sums up both Meat and Jim in one crystal clear lyrical metaphor. Nothing succeeds like excess.

"I sang every song we ever did in character. I left me. I was not method. I didn’t have to find something in my past life to be able to sing his songs.  I became the song and he saw the ability for me to become the song."

What a performance. 

I'm tired of words and I'm too hoarse to shout
But you've been cold to me so long
I'm crying icicles instead of tears

Who else could have sung lyrics as overblown as those and made them real? The very essence of rock 'n' roll. And this was the song that broke them too...

"A [radio station] program director in Buffalo, New York named Sandy Beach put it on [the playlist] because in “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” there’s the line, “you’ll never find gold on a sandy beach.” 

1. For Crying Out Loud

"I will argue with anyone that wants to argue with me on this point: I dare them. “Crying Out Loud” is the best love song in history.  Please come and argue with me on this point. I’ll take you down every time."

I'm not going to argue with Meat. I reckon he could still take me down, even from beyond the grave.

I'm not done yet, in case you were wondering / praying... 


  1. Enjoyed reading that interview and enjoyed Part 2 of your tribute.

    I've ended up watching a fair bit of Meat Loaf over the last few days (understandably) and my goodness, what he says is true, he didn't just sing the song he had to 'be' the song. What a performer. What a voice.

    I keep saying this when people of his era die, 'Will we ever see his like again?' - I think not.

  2. Not arguing with Meat either - yup, the correct summary of For Crying Out Loud


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