Some of the songs were written in the late 1970s for the sequel, but due to problems with the singer's voice, and other disagreements, they were first included on Steinman's projects Bad for Good and Pandora's Box's Original Sin album.
The album was released by Virgin Records outside of North America, where it was released by MCA. The third part of the Bat trilogy, Bat out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, was released in October 2006.
I started writing what I felt was Bat Out Of Hell part 2, definitely like The Godfather part I and part 2, that's how I saw it. I wanted to do a continuation and I wanted to do an album that went even further and that was more extreme, if possible, which a lot of people felt wasn't possible but I just wanted to see if I could make a record that was even more heroic because that's what I thought of it... Bat Out Of Hell to me was ultimately very heroic though it was funny... and I wanted to do one that to me would be even more heroic and more epic and a little more operatic and passionate.
In a 1993 promotional interview for the album, Steinman reasserts the continuation of the Bat world. "I didn't call it Bat out of Hell II just to identify with the first record. It really does feel like an extension of that... It was a chance to go back to that world and explore it deeper. It always seemed incomplete because I conceived it like a film, and what would you do without Die Hard 2?"
Steinman rejoined Meat Loaf and the band for a live performance in Toronto, Canada in 1978 with the intention of going through the songs for Bat II after the show. However, someone broke into their dressing rooms during the show and stole several possessions, including the new lyric book. Then, Meat Loaf lost his voice and was unable to record Renegade Angel. Steinman says "he sounded literally like the little girl in The Exorcist... like a dragon trying to sing - it was a horrifying sound." Steinman "kept writing the music to Bat Out Of Hell part 2... my sequel." Not being able to "bear for people not to hear those songs," Steinman recorded the album, retitled Bad for Good, as a solo project, although Rory Dodd contributed lead vocals on some songs. Four songs from Bad for Good were included on Bat out of Hell II. In 1989, Steinman formed all-female vocal group Pandora's Box. The album, Original Sin, was a commercial flop, but featured two songs which would also appear on Bat II. Meat Loaf says "Jim put "It Just Won't Quit" on Original Sin without telling me. I could have strangled him."
Steinman gave Meat Loaf half the songs for the album, but refused to give him any more until he changed managers. The singer was being managed by Walter Winneck and George Gilbert, who Meat Loaf credits as being "honest guys" but, under Steinman's influence, thinks would be "incapable of dealing with the record companies" on Bat II. On Steinman's recommendation, he hired Allen Kovac.
Many of the performers from the original album returned for the sequel. Roy Bittan performed keyboard and piano on most tracks, with Todd Rundgren, Ellen Foley, Rory Dodd and Kasim Sulton returning to provide background vocals. Meat Loaf and the musicians are credited as co-arrangers, and Bittan and long-term Steinman collaborator Steven Rinkoff are credited as associate producers. The album was mixed by David Thoener with the exception of the final track, which was mixed by Rinkoff.
According to Meat Loaf, he and Steinman only had one "big fight" throughout the album's production, which occurred the mixing of "Life Is a Lemon." Production took a long time, mainly because of the length of the songs. The singer says, "Jim's songs may be miniature operas, but they're always too long for radio." Steinman fought with Kovac over the edit of "I'd Do Anything for Love", with the manager advising that radio stations were unlikely to play anything over five minutes long.
Rundgren points out that "the themes of the songs were darker." The second track, "Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back," demonstrates this pessimism. Several things are identified as "defective", including love, sex, gods, childhood and the future. Allmusic labels it "a stomping rocker that wraps serious feelings in a cryptically witty metaphor. Despite the pessimism, both Allmusic and Meat Loaf point out that "it is a funny song."
The third track, "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through," is a prayer to rock music, celebrating how it is always there to help you through troubled times. One of its lyrics is "You're never alone, 'cause you can put on the 'phones and let the drummer tell your heart what to do." The fourth track also has dark overtones. "It Just Won't Quit", Steinman explains, "is about the fact that there are some things you never shake off... That's love, I guess." "Out of the Frying Pan (and into the Fire)" is a more upbeat song.
The album's sixth track, "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are" is a three part narrative that uses pathetic fallacy, where the seasons (summer, winter and spring) reflect the atmosphere of the events being described, drawing "its inspiration from the singer’s often-tragic childhood. The lyrics portray a man who has overcome tragedies in his life yet still feels haunted by their memory. Steinman says that it was "the hardest song to write and get across."
It's a very passionate song. It's really, I think maybe, the most passionate one on the record. I mean, I'm really proud of it because that's really one that goes over-the-top in the sense that it's got images - it has religious imagery of resurrection, it's got images of fertility and rebirth, it has really very good sexual images, images of cars - which I always like.
The track quotes lyrics from the original's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" ("It was long ago and it was far away"), as does the next track, "Wasted Youth", a spoken word fantasy monologue (a remixed version of "Love and Death and an American Guitar" from Steinman's Bad for Good album). The 1977 song's opening line "I remember every [...] little thing as if it happened yesterday. I was barely seventeen" opens this track also, but instead of being "barely dressed" the protagonist "once killed a boy with a Fender guitar." Influenced by The Doors, Steinman wanted to write a piece where "the rhythm wasn't coming from the drums so much as the voice - the rhythm of the spoken voice and the heartbeat behind it."
According to Steinman, "Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)" is a "teenage prayer." "Lost Boys And Golden Girls" is "Steinman's interpretation of the story of Peter Pan." The composer says that Peter Pan has "always been about my favorite story and I've always looked at it from the perspective that it's a great rock and roll myth because it's about — when you get right down to it - it's about a gang of lost boys who never grow up, who are going to be young forever and that's about as perfect an image for rock'n'roll as I can think of."
As well as providing thematic consistency with the original, the repetition of iconography also acted as a vital marketing tool. The marketing of the album was documented in an episode of the 1995 BBC television programme The Music Biz. Executives at Virgin Records thought that this was important to attract the target audience, who they believed no longer spent much time in record shops. They felt that similarities to the design of the first album, including Meat Loaf's name in Gothic typography, would entice consumers of the 1977 album to purchase this.
The booklet contains all of the lyrics to the songs, each accompanied by a small Whelan illustration, which were used as the respective single covers. There is a suggestion to "support Tibet House, "an organization dedicated to the unique culture of the Tibetan people which has the potential to make a valuable contribution to the world at large."
"Rock & Roll Dreams Come Through" reached #13 on The Billboard Hot 100, and number 11 on the UK singles chart. The third single from the album, "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are," did less well when it was released in 1994, reaching #38 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 26 in the UK. "Life Is a Lemon" was identified as #17 in the Mainstream Rock Tracks.
Michael Bay directed three music videos from the album. "I'd Do Anything for Love" is based on Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera. "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" features a runaway girl, played by Angelina Jolie. "Objects in the Rear View Mirror" illustrates the song's narrative. Featuring Robert Patrick, the video contained flying aircraft imagery that he would use in Armageddon and Pearl Harbor.
In 1994, the three films were released as the VHS tape Meat Loaf - Bat out of Hell 2 - Picture Show, which also included alternate versions of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light", "Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back" and "I'd Do Anything for Love", all featuring lead vocalist Patti Russo. They were included on a DVD in 2006 with the 'Collectors Edition' release of the album.
Despite its huge commercial success, critical reception was mixed. The specialist music press were generally positive. Q magazine announced that "truly this... is the genuine follow-up to the most over-the-top rock album of all time." Like most critics, Q referred to the excesses of Steinman's style, citing the length of the songs (Q says that "Objects..." running to 10mins 12secs is "not necessary"). Unlike the original, where the epic loud songs were "offset by the softness of stuff like "Two out of Three Ain't Bad"... even the ballads are Roman orgies of sound and fury." This, they say, means "the album's probable theme - the crushing effect growing up has on teenage dreams - seems to get lost among the thud and blunder." However, overall, Q is positive, concluding with the sentiment that "Ultimately, Back Into Hell may not trash its predecessor, but as a mad, crunching, stadium rock album, it's probably the best thing of its kind you'll hear this year."
Looking at how "Steinman's old-fashioned teen-dream rock 'n' roll fantasies" fits in with the music culture of 1993, Kerrang! suggests that it wouldn't appeal to "Nirvana and Metallica fans, but there's an older generation of Rockers out there who will, quite properly, worship this album." Their four star review declares that "it is a work of genius, a ready made Rock classic and arguably the last word in Rock operas." In The Tip Sheet, Jonathan King labels it a "glorious, splendid album," celebrating Meat Loaf's "operatically gorgeous" voice and Steinman's "superb" songs, arrangements and production. "You'll be blown away. Better still you'll catch yourself openly laughing out loud at times with delight. You know what to expect yet it's constantly better, fresher and brighter than you hope. If they had a Mercury Music Prize for American albums, this would win it hands down.
In a 1999 documentary celebrating the original album, Meat Loaf says that Bat out of Hell polarizes people: some hate it, and some worship it. The bombast did not meet some critics' approval. As with the first album, Rolling Stone gave the album a mixed review. They call it "harmless, low-octane operatic drivel" with "insufferably long Steinman compositions with equally long names. Non-specialist publications gave the most negative reviews. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram also referred to the length of the songs, in which Steinman "vomits up 75 minutes of endlessly repeated choruses." The newspaper branded it "the worst pop album of 1993. The Des Moines Register thought that the album was "wallowing in excess so gratuitous as to make Michael Bolton, by comparison, seem a master of understatement... Mountains of banshee-like wailing guitars! Thunderous drums! Herniated vocals! Profoundly stupid lyrics! Gack. This isn't pandering to the lowest common denominator - it's lowering the lowest common denominator.
Like the original, retrospective reviews are appreciative. Allmusic appreciates the bombast and "the pseudo-operatic splendor of Jim Steinman's grandly cinematic songs. Responding to concerns about length and overstatement, they reply, "that's precisely the point of this album, and is also why it works so well. No other rock & roller besides Meat Loaf could pull off the humor and theatricality of Back Into Hell and make it seem real. In that sense, it's a worthy successor to the original.
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This was produced by Meat Loaf and recorded and mixed by David Thoener. It was recorded in New York, NY during July 1993
The tracks were recorded live in New York during July 1993, except "For Crying Out Loud" which was recorded live in the USA in 1994. Live arrangements by Meat Loaf and the Neverland Express featuring Patti Russo as lead female vocalist. Tracks 1-6 and 8 were recorded and mixed by David Thoener, and the audio was remastered by Peter Mew with Nigel Reeve at Abbey Road Studios, London.
All sections were directed by Michael Bay and produced by Propaganda Films. DVD produced by Abbey Road Interactive.
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