HE SPICES MEAT LOAF'S
By J.D. Considine
Jim Steinman seems perfectly cast as a rock 'n' roll eminence
grise. He's definitely a man with a vision - a complete package of
sound, image and mystique - but it's one fashioned for and
performed by others. Consequently, Steinman's biggest successes as
a songwriter and producer invariably have someone else's name up in
lights, while his moniker is relegated to the fine print and album
Others might find that situation horribly frustrating, but
Steinman, in classic man-behind-the-scenes fashion, merely
chuckles. His latest success, "Bat Out Of Hell Il: Back Into Hell"
may have Meat Loaf's name writ large on the album cover, but that
hardly matters to Steinman.
"I think of it as my album, starring Meat Loaf," he says over
the phone from New York. "I mean, to me, it was like the Who - he
was Roger Daltrey, I was Peter Townshend - except we didn't have
the band name."
"Bat Out Of Hell" was actually only a moderate success upon its
initial release in 1977, peaking at No. 14 on the Billboard albums
chart, but Steinman knew that it continued to sell steadily over
the years - in fact, it just earned its ninth platinum award. So
when the opportunity arose to work with Meat Loaf again, Steinman
leapt at the chance, convinced that the combination had a certain
magic in the marketplace.
Others were not so sure.
"It felt right to me," says Steinman. "I was fairly cocky
making this record. But I know at MCA, they were talking about
Spinal Tap II."
Needless to say, such fears were groundless. ''Bat Out Of Hell
II" was an immediate smash, topping the album charts and so far
delivering two smash-hit singles.
Naturally, Meat Loaf got nearly all of the attention. But
despite all the stories heralding Meat Loaf's comeback, Steinman
points out that the singer released eight solo albums while between
"They were terrible," he says. "It can't be easy for Meat to
know he put out all those records and they didn't work, because at
some level he's going to feel, 'What - do I have to have Steinman
with me?' "
Maybe not, but there's definitely a certain chemistry between
the two. "In one sense, we actually do love each other, because we
were created for each other," says Steinman.
"But there's a very uneasy truce. (On the tour for the first
album) he would have huge tantrums about, 'I'm not the Frankenstein
monster,' because people would say that I was Dr. Frankenstein and
he was the Frankenstein monster. I would have to soothe him and
say, 'No, no - you're Marion Brando and I'm Francis Coppola.'"
Consequently, Steinman has not been a part of Meat Loaf's road
show. "I go and join it every now and then," he says. "I did a song
with him at Madison Square Garden, I did a couple of songs in
Toronto at Maple Leafs Garden. I go in and out."
"He really sees (touring) as his domain," Steinman adds. "I'm
interpreting, but I'm pretty sure he thinks that my world is the
studio, where he's pretty much subjugated, and his is the stage,
and I should surrender to that. And I guess I have to respect