Thursday, 22 April 2021

Jim Steinman

I’ve just heard that Jim Steinman has died. People will know him as the man behind “Bat Out of Hell”, the iconic and best selling album by Meat Loaf but he dipped his creative fingers into various other musical pies too. 

My first memory of Jim Steinman’s music was around the time my old mate Wally (not his real name) bought his first car at the age of 18. He learned to drive as soon as he could and bought himself a red Ford Capri, an iconic car from the 1970’s. It was a great car and most importantly for me it had a decent car stereo that played tapes at high volume as Wally cruised around the streets of Walsall and West Bromwich with me as his passenger, looking for something interesting to do, or more accurately trying to be flash with young ladies. 

Wally was a good looking chap, unlike me, and his attempts to woo young ladies with the aid of his car usually worked. Sadly they weren’t interested in me, apart from when he was too scared to talk to them and he dropped me off just to chat to them on his behalf. 

One girl was gorgeous and he was a coward so I suggested that I break the ice for him. Bear in mind, I was quite shy and I kind of lived in Wally’s shadow. This girl, let’s call her Mandy, had noticed Wally’s car driving up and down the road, with Wally coolly leaning out of the window with sunglasses and blaring songs from Bat Out of Hell. She started waving but he didn’t think he stood a chance – which amazed me, given that he seemed so confident.

“Just stop the car and I’ll talk to her for you,” I said. 

He stopped, I got out and then he just drove off. 

I waited for about five minutes and Mandy looked at me , prpbably thinking "What is that idiot doing just standing there like a lemon?" 

In the end, I just strolled over and said “Hi – I’m Dave. I’ve erm erm erm erm been left here to talk to you for my mate.”

She laughed and said “Really?”

I warmed to her and said “He’s just a coward but he wants to talk to you.”

So we chatted for about ten minutes before Wally reappeared and drove past – again with Meat Loaf blaring out. 

“Why doesn’t he stop?” she asked. 

“Too scared,” I said. 

Eventually, Wally waited for me about two hundred yards away and in exasperation I ran to him jumped in the car and he sped off leaving Mandy waiting. 

Common sense prevailed and he eventually plucked up some courage and they had a bit of a fling for a few months. 

Jim Steinman reminds me of that time of my youth. I loved Bat Out of Hell and also Steinman’s solo album which appeared just after that. I also enjoyed his work with Bonnie Tyler and the Sisters of Mercy.

In honour of him, I present five songs that he has been involved in and that I love. I heard somebody say that Jim Steinman invented the power ballad. Whether that is true or not, I just love the rock songs so the songs below are not power ballads.

Bat Out of Hell from Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf (1977)

Bat Out of Hell is probably my favourite song by Jim Steinman. I love the concept and Meat Loaf’s voice is the best it has ever been in my opinion. It is a pure rock song, brilliant to drive to and the guitars are incredible, sounding like the most powerful motorbike on Earth revving up ready to hit the road at breakneck speed. I have driven in America when this song came on the radio and, for a moment, it was pure bliss; the open road in front of me and a fantastic song on the radio. 

Well I can see myself tearing up the road, faster

Than any other boy has ever gone

And my skin is raw, but my soul is ripe,

And no one's gonna stop me now, I'm gonna make my escape

Stark Raving Love from Bad for Good by Jim Steinman (1981)

Meat Loaf had vocal problems and the songs on Bad for Good were meant to be for his second album. Some of them appeared later on Bat Out of Hell II but the best versions were on Bad for Good in my opinion. Jim Steinman’s voice is nowhere near as good as Meat Loaf’s but he does his best to belt out some brilliant songs. Elements of this song were later taken to form Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler but this song is much better. If you skip to the 5:14 point in the video you will hear some amazing guitar, reminiscent of Bat Out of Hell itself. This is an amazing song.

Peel Out from Dead Ringer by Meat Loaf (1981)

This is the title track from Meat Loaf’s second album and the best song in my opinion. After the magnificence of Bat Out of Hell, I found this album slightly disappointing. I do love this song though.

Faster Than the Speed of Night from Faster Than the Speed of Night by Bonnie Tyler (1983)

I was stunned when I heard Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler singing rock songs. She started off with a few singles in the 1970’s which were basically pop songs. She had a voice that was rough and rocky and the songs she sang then didn’t do her justice. I heard Faster Than the Speed of Night and immediately recognized the epic nature of Jim Steinman. Another great song.

This Corrosion from Floodland by Sisters of Mercy(1987)

I love a bit of gothic rock and when I heard this song I dived in and bought the CD. Imagine my surprise when I heard that Jim Steinman was involved as the producer. Unlike a lot of songs by the band, it has epic depth and even includes a choir. It has Steinman stamped all over it. A surprising and brilliant addition to his portfolio.

And finally…

I’ll leave with a word from Jim Steinman himself that sums up his legacy.

I simply love the punchline.

Rest in peace, Jim and thanks for the memories.


Elephant's Child said...

He will be missed and has achieved a kind of immortality.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

Yes he has. I'm sure he was happy with his legacy.