By Jim Hagerty
More than 40 million copies and counting, including 200,000 per year three decades after its release, is something few artists have accomplished with one record—let alone a debut. Meat Loaf, with the Jim Steinman collaboration, did just that with Bat Out of Hell. Released in 1977, the rock opera ranks behind Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, AC/DC’s Back in Black and Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the fourth best-selling album in the world.
Upon its release on Cleveland International’s Epic Records, Bat Out Of Hell received mixed reviews, including some that labeled it everything short of a joke. The supporting tour (1977-1979) was equally as ill-received. The band was even booed off the stage on its first tour with Cheap Trick. By 1978, Meat Loaf was one of the biggest touring acts in the world, fueled mostly by the album’s first two singles, “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”
Released in several formats, Bat Out of Hell’s 25th-anniversary edition included three bonus tracks while two DVDs compile more of the band’s fervor. The latest DVD release, last month’s Bat Out of Hell: The Original Tour (Eagle Rock Entertainment), features a 1978 set at the Stadthalle Offenbach arena in Germany as part of the Rockpalast TV series.
Despite its age and rawness, the disc epic captures the original band, including hard-rock guitar staples, brothers Bob and Bruce Kulick. It includes the minor pops, drops and tumbles of a ’70s rock show. Converted from color video with little, if any, overdubs, the 89-minute set is a true bottle of nostalgia, able to take any rock lover back to a time when arena shows were king and concertgoers hung on every word, even from 40 or 50 rows from the stage.
Bat Out Of Hell: The Original Tour includes all but two album tracks and includes an exclusive 1978 interview with Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman. The production is live, untreated and, like the sounds it captured, a piece of art worth owning.
More information about Bat Out Of Hell: The Original Tour, including a complete list of DVD and CD releases, can be found at www.kayosproductions.com.
From the Dec. 9-15, 2009 issue