Thursday, April 23, 2009

Strat Like a Harley

The first Meat Loaf album might just be the perfect music for teenagers.

It's loud. It's bombastic. It paints love and sex as life or death struggles from Paradise Lost or a Wagner opera.

And it erects the sonic equivalents of Iwo Jima monuments to young lust. In short, it's what every parent fears and what every teenager thinks he or she alone has discovered. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Jim Steinman provided the songs (think Wagner having fever dreams that mash up Phil Spector and Bruce Springsteen anthems), Todd Rundgren produced the tracks (and paid for the recording himself), and the musicians included Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan from the E Street Band, Willie Wilcox, Kasim Sulton, and Roger Powell from Utopia, Edgar Winter playing sax, Ellen Foley and Rory Dodd singing, and Todd Rundgren himself playing the "motorcycle guitar" on the title track (which, on the album, goes on for nearly 10 glorious minutes).

The other thing about this album that teenagers recognize with great embarrassment decades later is that it's hilarious -- why else would NY Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto be providing the play-by-play in "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," one of 3 songs on the record that are more than 8 minutes long?

The other day, I hauled my vinyl copy of this album out of storage and listened to it. (The record sure beats Tums for relief when you see this commercial.)Yeah, I cringed more than once. But I also laughed more than once and marveled at some of the music all over again. And while I know it's possible to defend this record, it's a bit of a guilty pleasure -- one that I share with almost 40 million people around the world (including about 200,000 new ones every year).

By the way, if you're in Germany, stop in and visit Charles Altmann and bring your vinyl copy of Bat Out of Hell. What better way to listen to an album with a "motorcycle guitar" than on a turntable built out of parts from an actual motorcycle?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want one of those!! Do they come with training wheels?