BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Music
Listen Live.

 Full Schedule

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

Bat Out Of Hell
Bat Out Of Hell
Meat Loaf

Bat Out Of Hell was the album nobody wanted. Songwriter Jim Steinman had met larger-than-life singer Meat Loaf at a Broadway audition in the early 1970s. Meat Loaf subsequently enjoyed some off-Broadway success as an actor, and Steinman got in touch again when he was looking for someone to front his ambitious song cycle.

Like Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, Bat Out Of Hell was rejected by every major label. At a time when Disco ruled the airwaves, and Punk was the critics’ favourite, one thing nobody wanted was a grandiose Wagnerian rock’n’roll opera!

Jim Steinman
"I think these records are incredibily hormonally driven!"

Jim Steinman’s Gothic excess found its audience bigtime with this outrageous rock anthem. The upright piano sound brings a bar-room immediacy to what sounds like a live band recording, and Meat’s octave-leaping, choked vocal expresses every ounce of urgency in the characteristically vivid lyric. Imagine an early Springsteen verse bolted onto a chorus from the Rocky Horror Show, with endless variations on the three-chord trick… and you’re not even close.
Dominic King

But, on its release in 1977, Meat Loaf’s album surprised everyone and smashed all the records. Eventual sales of 30 million made it the best-selling debut album ever - but Bat Out Of Hell was no mere blip, it went on to spend 472 weeks (that’s more than nine years!) on the UK album charts.

The title track was itself a near 10 minute mini-opera which drew heavily on 1960s wall-of-sound production techniques - and Meat Loaf supplied just the kind of over-the-top performance the song required.

In concert, his acting background only enhanced the song’s operatic appeal while in the studio, ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ borrowed the technique of Bruce Springsteen’s recent Born To Run, and turned it up to eleven - and the fact that Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan from Springsteen’s E.Street Band played on the album only helped reinforce the comparison.

Bat Out Of Hell was a very tough act to follow - but Mr Loaf went on to a credible acting career including work alongside the Duchess Of York and the Spice Girls. While Steinman’s subsequent CV intriguingly spans Def Leppard, Barbra Streisand, the Sisters Of Mercy and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Your comments. The song also stayed in the charts for 9yrs and 3mnths. Thats something amazing!!!

Lee Ann Davidson

Make a comment

Songwriting tips

Lyrics tend to follow the tempo of the tune.
More in Writing Lyrics

Find out how to make a great melody. Writing Music
Test your knowledge

What do you know about Meat Loaf and this hit? 

quiz more quizzes

More songs.

Like this song? Try these...

Bohemian Rhapsody
Space Oddity
David Bowie

Doves Doves
Special guests on Dermot's show this week

What's on

Radio 2 Documentaries
Find out more about current and forthcoming documentaries on Radio 2.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy