The hard-rock icon injected even the most absurd songs with deeply felt emotion and formed the perfect musical partnership with Jim Steinman
There is a mean-spirited and cynical argument that Michael Lee Aday owed his career to someone else’s talent: the late songwriter Jim Steinman, who wrote everything on Meat Loaf’s 43m-selling breakthrough album Bat Out of Hell, rescued his career when it was in the doldrums by agreeing to make 1993’s Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell and was behind virtually every song for which Meat Loaf will be remembered. Of the 18 tracks on The Very Best of Meat Loaf, only four were not written by Steinman.
It’s certainly true that Meat Loaf found things much tougher without Steinman on board. Steinman had hits with other people – the Sisters of Mercy and Celine Dion among them – but not one of the Steinman-less albums Meat Loaf released in the 80s was a hit in the US. European fans remained a little more loyal and he occasionally scored a UK hit, most notably the distinctly Steinman-esque Modern Girl in 1984. But he spent most of the decade relentlessly touring in order to stave off bankruptcy, and the leap in sales between his 1986 album Blind Before I Stop – which had its greatest success in Switzerland, reaching No 22 – and Bat Out of Hell II, a global number one that sold 14m copies, tells its own story.