Meat Loaf (around 250 lbs) from Dallas, Texas; lead singer with Ted Nugent on platinum album 'Free For All'; monster-singer Eddie with half a brain in the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show'. Jim Steinman, west coast born, east coast resident; composer, arranger, pianist. Assorted musicians (organist, three guitarists, drummer, two backing vocalists).
Recipe for success:
Word has it that CBS considers Meat Loaf its most important signing since Bruce Springsteen. Meat Loaf sounds like Bruce Springsteen (albeit in Demis Roussos' body). The sound and feel of the music is Springsteen plus.
Within a year of their partnership, Meat Loaf and Steinman were billed to play the prestigious Carnegie Hall. Their album 'Bat Out Of Hell' was produced by no other than Todd Rundgren.
Their opening night in Los Angeles at the Roxy was standing room only. (Admittedly the guest list was four pages long, but press or people, the crowd greeted Meat Loaf with amazement, then respect, then ecstatic applause. People were talking about 'the show of the year'.)
Quite a bizarre evening, really. Opening with a hippie knife-throwing act (connections between cutlery and Meat Loaf apparently unintentional). Then Meat's band crowd on to the small stage. A motley crew (long hair and satin jackets looking quaintly old-fashioned). First big entrance was Jim Steinman in a black suit, bowing his way to the grand piano. They play - a very loud, full, pompous sound (the first bars reminiscent of Nice's 'America', but don't let that put you off). Then on lurches Meat Loaf himself. Huge, clumsy. Long, lank hair. Black tuxedo and frilly mauve shirt, like a drunken bouncer at the Speakeasy. A liquor bottle in hand, red silk handkerchief in the other. He looks round disgustingly at the crowd, swigs and sings - and what a voice! Springsteen with gravel in his throat and a built in amplifier. Who needs mikes? The two backing vocalists - a long-haired man and a foxy lady in silver and white - join the stage and the song. Amazingly full, sensuous vocals, and with the visual delights making for rapturous applause.
Second song. Waving ten fat fingers, fanning himself with the handkerchief, taking off his jacket and revealing braces, frills, an impressive gut, looking like a grossly inflated Rick Wakeman blimp. The stage is mayhem as the band goes through the motions and Meat's voice takes on the strains of Springsteen again, also Frankie Miller or Rod Stewart - but this man is a much better poser, pacing the stage like a wounded bear.
Then 'For Crying Out Loud' - passionate, tight, professional; the old tough-but-tender bit. Meat turns macho on the next one. Words like 'We're going to go all the way tonight'. Cheek-to-cheek dancing with the lady in white-beauty and the beast-and the nearest thing to simulated sex on stage, accompanied (I am told by a bona fide all-American jock) by a baseball commentary from one of the band. Weird, but entertaining. Then kick-ass rock 'n' roll with a real big sound. 'All Revved Up With No Place To Go'. And end of show (not many songs but they were all very long).
The audience (and not just the record company, out in force) demands an encore. All they get for thanks are the words, spoken with venom, "You guys are bad-ass mother f***ers - I got fined $2,500 for saying that in Pittsburgh." Cheers from crowd, and more cheers still for Todd Rundgren, to whom the encore was dedicated. A riveting, loud, frenzied rendition of 'River Deep, Mountain High'. Finally another lush, sensuous, passionate Meat Loaf original to end up what must have been one of the most surprisingly excellent club shows of the year. When CBS can charter a plane big enough to carry him and his ensemble to England, you're in for a treat.