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A Match Made In “Hell”: Cherry Red Revisits Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley

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Meat Loaf LiveAin’t no doubt about it: Ellen Foley achieved classic rock immortality via her role on “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” opposite Meat Loaf on his 1977 album Bat Out of Hell.  Foley was the girl “glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife” in Jim Steinman’s rock opera in miniature, with Meat Loaf as the boy “praying for the end of time” and the end of their time together.  All these years later, Foley and the former Marvin Lee Aday are together again – on CD shelves, at least, thanks to two new reissues from two imprints of the Cherry Red Group.  Hear No Evil Records has just released a remastered edition of Meat Loaf’s 1987 Live at Wembley, while Lemon Recordings has offered a 2-CD set of Foley’s first two LPs, Nightout and Spirit of St. Louis.

Meat Loaf’s Live at Wembley arrived on Arista Records in September 1987, drawn from two concerts held at the storied London arena on March 1 and 2, 1987.  It was the follow-up to the previous year’s Blind Before I Stop, the singer’s first album to wholly abandon the grandiose, theatrical production style of the colossally successful Bat Out of Hell.  To achieve this, German producer Frank Farian was enlisted to produce.  Farian, then best known as the creator-producer of Boney M. and today better remembered as the notorious figure behind Milli Vanilli, updated Meat Loaf’s sound by adding metallic synthesizers to the deafeningly loud guitars and abandoning Spectorian pomp in favor of eighties metal and even Euro-disco.   The album wasn’t a success; it was Meat Loaf’s first to miss the Top 10 in the U.K., and failed to chart entirely at home.  But it did yield three charting singles in the U.K. with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Mercenaries” (No. 31), “Special Girl” (No. 81) and the title track (No. 89).  Meat Loaf could still draw impressive crowds in England, and so the decision was made to record the Wembley stand on his 20/20 world tour of 1987 for his first commercially-released live album.  The robust-voiced singer was joined by his band Neverland Express, consisting of Chuck Burgi (drums), Steve Buslowe (bass/vocals), Frank Doyle (keyboards), Paul Jacobs (piano), Bob Kulick (lead guitar), Alan Merrill (guitar/vocals) and siblings Amy and Elaine Goff (vocals).

Today, Meat Loaf’s live albums number six (not counting live videos/DVDs), the most recent of which is 2012’s Guilty Pleasure Tour.  But Live at Wembley is notable for featuring a number of songs unavailable on other live releases.  As Meat was still ostensibly promoting the album, three tracks from Blind Before I Stop appear on Live at Wembley, including the carnal title track, the Rick Derringer co-write “Masculine” and a duet with bassist Buslowe on “Rock ‘n’ Roll Mercenaries.” (The liner notes repeat the story that John Parr, Meat Loaf’s duet partner on the studio version of the song, was angry that Meat neglected to introduce him to the Wembley crowd and stormed offstage.  Buslowe is credited with the Live vocal.)  1984’s Bad Attitude was tapped for the Top 20 U.K. single “Modern Girl,” and the title song of 1983’s Tom Dowd-helmed Midnight at the Lost and Found also made an appearance.  (A live “Midnight” can also be heard on 1996’s Live Around the World.)  The remainder of Live at Wembley, save an album-closing oldies medley of “Johnny B. Goode/Slow Down/Jailhouse Rock/Blue Suede Shoes,” was drawn from Bat Out of Hell.

The Bat songs remain the core of any Meat Loaf concert today, and here, you’ll hear a 10-minute take on “Paradise” as a duet with Amy Goff, an almost-as-long “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” with some furious fretwork by Bob Kulick, a joyful “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” and the storming, epic title song with Meat Loaf in pyrotechnic vocal mode.  These renditions largely adhere to the original arrangements, though the tight band takes enough liberties with an aggressive rock edge to give them a different flavor.

Malcolm Dome supplies new liner notes for Live at Wembley, part of a generously-illustrated booklet filled with tour and album advertisements and images.  Andy Pearce has remastered.  As with the previous CD edition, Hear No Evil’s reissue includes the full original LP plus the 2-track EP bundled with it, of “Masculine” b/w the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley.”  The original performances boasted much longer sets than the 75 minutes preserved on disc; the complete concerts as recorded by Fleetwood Mobile Recording and Meat Loaf’s co-producer Tom Edmonds remain unreleased.

The newly spruced-up Live at Wembley is available now, and you can order it after the jump!  Plus: the scoop on Lemon’s Ellen Foley reissue package! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 16, 2013 at 10:02