Meat Loaf: Bat out of Hell

Movie studios have been dancing under the sequel tree for as long as time can remember, networks caught on and now crank out sequels of shows that are still running but record labels haven’t done much in the way of sequels. That is unless you count Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell series.

Note: This review using the term “kick ass” and “ass kicking” almost to the point where it loses its meaning.

It’s surprising to read that an album that has sold more than 45 million copies was originally a hard sell to record companies. They actually commissioned Richard Corben for the artwork for the album 6 years before it was finally released and 3 years before any record company would touch the album.

Richard Corben is most famous for his Heavy Metal covers and at 66 is still drawing today as good as ever. And by the looks of his bio page, he’d kick my ass if I said anything different.

Meat Loaf: Bat out of Hell 2

The sequel Bat Out Of Hell 2: Back Into Hell, served up more epic tunes including the hit that wouldn’t go away I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) but all I cared about was the album art.

This time it was Michael Whelan who stepped up to the brush for this cover. Michael’s work has also featured heavily on Sepultura’s covers and my obsession is covered here on our review of Chaos AD.

Note the addition of an angel figure and the use of the buildings to signify tombstones. Pretty deep I know. The Chrysler Building hints at a time frame sometime into the future and the biker here looks more metal and less Tarzan.

Meat Loaf: Bat out of Hell 3

What I didn’t realize before I started this post was that Meat Loaf had released a third album just last year, Bat Out Of Hell 3: The Monster is Loose. This time the cover was painted by Julie Bell. That didn’t ring a bell until I realized she’s married to Boris Vellejo. Julie used to model for Boris and since then has become an artist in her own right. I would make a female body builder joke right now but by the looks of her bio page she’d kick my ass.

This is my least favorite of the covers. The poses look staged and the layout is cluttered. The bike is hidden away off the cover and the stone pillars seem to say that we’re in ancient times. And what kind of fool takes on a flame breathing bat with a sword? Get yourself a shotgun dude!

Also worth noting is how Jim Steinman’s name moved from under the title of the album in the first, to the bottom of the album on the second and totally removed from the third. Which also shows the progression of his working relationship with Meat Loaf. Jim is also credited with the concept for the original album artwork.

At first I wondered why Richard wasn’t asked to continue his good work but I think Meat Loaf just wanted to spread the Bat love. Why tie yourself down to just one famous fantasy artist.

Michael got to double dip a little by doing this awesome cover for The Very Best of Meat Loaf. I wonder if this was an unused concept for the previous album? I love the clouds.

The Very Best of Meat Loaf

Which cover is my fav? It’s a tough choice but color, composition and overall ass kicking style, I’d have to go with Bat Out Of Hell 2.

Art vs Photo:
It was a smart move to use a painted cover and not shove Meat Loaf on there for a few reasons.

1: Meat Load is an ugly guy. Sure under some soft lighting and in monotone maybe he’s passable but check the picture below if you need more proof as to why this guy shouldn’t have been on the cover

Meat Loaf face

2: The art kicks ass! It’s a classic as is as powerful today as it was back in 1977. Few photos can stand up to 30 years of scrutiny.

3: Fantasy art suits the albums sound and themes perfectly.

And finally for those that need aural stimulation here’s the classic Bat out of Hell song performed by the man himself in his prime.

And here’s Meat Loaf in a Michael Bay directed film clip for I Would Do Anything For Love.