Meat Loaf

Welcome to the Neighborhood

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After having scored a surprising commercial comeback with 1993's Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, his reunion with songwriter Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf tried to make it on his own, just as he had from 1983 to 1993, and with similarly disappointing results. As with albums like Bad Attitude, a couple of Steinman songs were tossed in, in this case the minor "Original Sin" (from 1989) and "Left in the Dark" (from 1980), a song previously cut by Barbra Streisand. But most of the album's songwriting was provided by a team of people, including pop songwriter Diane Warren, Van Halen lead singer Sammy Hagar, and ex-E Streeter Steven Van Zandt, plus producer Ron Nevison, trying to clone the flamboyant Steinman style and failing to do so. The Warren material especially (which sounded more like the kind of thing she tends to write for Michael Bolton) lacked Steinman's gothic excess, sly humor, and lyrical reach. Meat Loaf, as usual, sang like his life depended on it, while a band that was less distinctive than it should have been, given such notable participants as Kenny Aronoff and Kasim Sulton, churned out sub-metal riffs. The resulting sales fall-off was not as great as it had been before, but it remained true that Meat without Steinman was only half a loaf.

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