The original Bat Out Of Hell album has sold over 25 million copies worldwide... More than a decade and a half later, Meat Loaf and producer Jim Steinman unleashed the follow-up, which has already spawned this astonishing UK chart-topper.Astonishing indeed - for all its massive success, the one thing the original Bat Out Of Hell album hadn't even come close to was a Number One single: indeed, it didn't even spawn a Top 10 hit until the title track was re-issued a couple of weeks after Now! 26 hit the shelves. The single is also remarkable for its length: the single edit runs to 7:38, the longest of any UK chart-topper at the time (not counting double A-sides and EPs, obviously) and even that was edited down from the 12-minute album version. The radio edit featured here is a more manageable 5:29 or so, though I'm not sure whether that's the version they intended to use: there's a bit of spare space at the end of Side 2 of the tape, and it does have fewer tracks than the other three sides.
It even got mentioned in a lesson at school. I can't entirely remember how or why, but I know there was some discussion about the mystique surrounding exactly what "that" was that he wouldn't do, and whether that was fuelling the success of the single. In fact, if you listen closely enough he does actually list several things he won't do, but only fans seem to have noticed. Perhaps the sheer scale of the song made it hard to concentrate on the details: it certainly has that effect on me. To be fair to him, though, Mr Loaf does put in a very good vocal performance, maybe his best ever: it takes some skill to sell such a ridiculous song, both camp and macho, but he manages it here.
I can't help mentioning the spooky similarity between parts of the melody in this song and that of 'I Will Sing' by obscure and possibly non-existent underground musician Y. Bhekhirst. It's fair to say he doesn't have quite the same production values as Jim Steinman though.
Also appearing on: Now 27, 32, 33, 65
Available on: The Very Best Of Sad Songs