Theatrical Rock and Meat Loaf

Marvin Lee Aday passed away. He was 74. But if you’ve never known him as Marvin Lee Aday, you would certainly know him by his stage name. Meat Loaf.

For Meat Loaf was one of the strongeset purveyors of bombastic theatrical rock, a musical genre that encompassed big, stirring lyrics, explosive melodies, and movement changes to create essentially a rock and roll symphony.

I shall now give examples.

Let’s start with his early career, when he actually recorded as the duo of Stoney and Meat Loaf. Shaun “Stoney” Murphy and Meat Loaf were signed to Motown – well, Motown’s rock label Rare Earth – and had a decent if overlooked album. By the way, Stoney later recorded several vocals with Bob Seger, and is still performing as an accomplished blues singer today.

But if you were at the late night double feature picture show in 1975, you would certainly have enjoyed Meat Loaf’s on-screen performance as Eddie, one of Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s diabolical experiments in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Here he is with his track “Hot Patootie (Bless My Soul),” with the whole full scene.

But by 1978, he found his greatest collaboration with songwriter Jim Steinman. Steinman and Meat Loaf created the “Bat Out of Hell” albums, starting with the 1978 release that generated such massive hits as “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” …

As well as my personal favorite Meat Loaf song, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” True story. I was living with my father and stepmother in Boston in 1978, and the version of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” that got spins on radio station WRKO at the time was re-edited so that the baseball play-by-play call between the song’s first and second movements was replaced with a play-by-play call by the local Red Sox announcers. I guess the Boston radio stations didn’t want to give Phil Rizzuto any more on-air time than necessary.

Unfortunately, the follow-up to the Bat out of Hell album just stiffed at the record stores. Too bad. His subsequent recordings were pretty strong, they just never found the right audience.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980’s when Meat Loaf not only returned to the radio stations with the sequel to Bat out of Hell, but he also stomped his way back to the top of the pop charts with his first-ever #1 song, “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

He also had a really strong duet on an episode of American Idol, where he and Katherine McPhee powered through a performance of “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” another Jim Steinman-penned song that was originally a Celine Dion hit. By the way, I still think McPhee should have won American Idol that year over Taylor Hicks. I mean, has anyone seen Taylor Hicks? Anyone?

Rest in peace, Meat Loaf. Thanks for all the fantastic, bombastic, cranked-up-to-a-million-miles-an-hour songs and performances.

Okay, one more.