My dad had a program at the college radio station called Music For A Sunday Afternoon. He’d highlight a composer or occasionally an artist, and discuss their music and play several recordings of their work. I’m adopting that title for my occasional cover songs posts.
The other night while I was writing, I wanted some instrumental music to set the mood. But I also wanted Meat Loaf. Odd combination, I know. No surprise, but that sent me down quite the rabbit trail.
I don’t really know when I discovered Marvin (Meat Loaf was a nickname from his high school football days) and Jim Steinman’s music, but I’ve loved it ever since. It’s not realistically possible for me to summarize Meat Loaf’s career here; his Wiki article is near 10,000 words. Suffice to say he’s been performing since 1968, as a rock singer, stage, and film actor.
At first, I was surprised to find out so few people have covered so few songs, but then as I thought about it, I realized that a lot of his work is difficult to cover musically because of his range, and stylistically because so many are ballads that are hard to change.
I Would Do Anything for Love
Of course, as soon as I say his work is hard to cover, I find Xandria, a German symphonic metal band, covered the iconic single from Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell. They did a hell of a job with it, too. Dianne van Giersbergen has an amazing voice that fits this song perfectly.
Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
This song was, for a very long time, his highest-charting song in the US. Even now, it’s only second to “I’d Do Anything for Love.” This was the last song written for Bat Out of Hell, and Jim Steinman recounts that someone challenged him to write a simple song, with this being the result. It occurred to me that this would have been a great song for Elvis to sing, as well as Bob Seger.
Craig Foster was a part of “Steinman Stripped” at Feinstein’s/54 Below, part of a series of Steinman tribute concerts, and knocked it out of the park, I think.
Keith Urban does a pretty neat job with this at a concert, just him and his guitar. I’d guess there’s not a lot of crossover between the two fanbases.
It’s really no surprise that Bonnie Tyler covered this song, as she and Steinman have partnered several times in the past. The disco beat is a little much for me though.
Likewise, Olivia Newton-John’s version is a little fast for me. I just don’t think this is a fast song.
It’s All Coming Back to Me Now
You can’t talk about Meat Loaf without talking about the late Jim Steinman. He wrote a huge chunk of the songs Meat Loaf has sung. Along the way, though, there have occasionally been disagreements about who the song was originally written for. When Steinman wrote this song, he thought it was “a woman’s song,” and wouldn’t let Meat Loaf record it. Pandora’s Box first released it in 1989. Celine Dion covered it next in 1996, then Meat Loaf finally released it as a duet with Marion Raven in 2006.
I’m torn about which version I like best. I’m pretty sure I heard Meat Loaf’s duet first, so in my mind, that became the “original” version. I’ll share all three versions here and let you decide.
Pandora’s Box (This video is pretty darned risqué, especially for 1990 standards – Steinman’s manager said, “It’s a porno movie!”)
Meat Loaf has covered a number of songs himself, like California Dreamin’ (originally released by The Mama’s and the Papa’s), Come Together (The Beatles), Let It Be (yep, Beatles again), and Stand By Me. I love Ben E. King’s original, but I really like his treatment.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite?
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