After penning the songs for Meat Loaf's massively successful Bat Out of Hell album, Jim Steinman decided to step into the spotlight himself when his singer's voice was too damaged to record a follow-up. The result was 1981's Bad for Good, an epic slab of operatic rock that is very much in the same vein of Meat Loaf's work, but nowhere near as satisfying. The first problem is Steinman's voice: he simply doesn't have the vocal range or lung power necessary to make this dramatic style of rock & roll work. For example of this problem, look no further than "Left in the Dark"; he struggles to keep up with vocal demands of this orchestral ballad, resulting in a vocal that sounds strained and occasionally off-key. The second problem is that some of the songs repeat the Bat Out of Hell formula instead of building upon it; the obvious culprit in this arena is "Dance In My Pants," a duet that gratuitously recycles the battle of the sexes verbal sparring and the multi-part structure of Meat Loaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" to less-impressive effect. Despite these problems, a handful of gems shine through: "Surf's Up" is a strong power ballad that effectively combines the Steinman songwriting style with Beach Boys-style production elements, and "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" is a heart-tugging testament to the inspirational power of rock & roll that draws its power from a sublime chorus layered with soaring background vocals. Ultimately, Bad for Good is too inconsistent and eccentric to keep the attention of the casual listener, but remains an interesting listen for anyone who appreciates Jim Steinman's one-of-a-kind style of epic-size rock & roll.
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AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco
feat: New York Philharmonic