Couldn't Have Said It Better

Meat Loaf

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Couldn't Have Said It Better Review

by David Jeffries

The eight years since Meat Loaf's last studio album didn't include any editions of his Bat Out of Hell series, but with a live album and a VH1 Storytellers appearance that relied heavily on Bat material, it sure seemed like it. Maybe that's why Couldn't Have Said It Better feels like the more sure and energetic post-Bat albums (Dead Ringer and Welcome to the Neighborhood) with the singer still sounding ecstatic from hitting a home run. Performance wise, Meat Loaf is in fine form, rocking it out bar-band style and able to deliver the grandiose tongue-in-cheek lyrics with just enough smirk. The material gets divided into two "chapters," splitting the songs into Bat-like mini-operas on the first and turning the bombast down to mere Queen level on the second. Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx and his writing partner James Michael contribute the bulk of the first chapter, with songs that betray taste and come right from the hulking Jim Steinman school. Just the right amount of camp keeps the rocking title track in check and Meat's call and response duet with Pearl Aday on "Man of Steel" stands with his finest moments. Chapter two kicks off with the great "Testify," a shimmy of a rave-up worthy of Meat's Eddie character from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was a brilliant move to hire Hedwig and the Angry Inch's composer/lyricist Stephen Trask for the husky "Tear Me Down," and Diane Warren contributes the softer "You're Right, I Was Wrong." The hyper and silly rap on "Do It" is ludicrous even by Meat Loaf's standards, but a chugging version of Dylan's "Forever Young" and the fiery version of "Mercury Blues," hidden as a bonus track, make for a perfect ending. At the time of its release, Steinman was five songs into writing Bat Out of Hell III. If he feeds off the serious competition on Couldn't Have Said It Better, it'll be fantastic.

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