Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published August 10th 2018
Great songs worth revisiting
Who? You're probably asking…
Jim Steinman is one of the best writers of rock music since, well… ever.
Yes, I am a fan. How did you guess?
Jim Steinman at Joe's Pub (wikipedia)
Sorry. Got distracted there.
Steinman is best known for his work with Meat Loaf. He wrote and produced Meat Loaf's seminal work Bat Out Hell, its follow-up Bat Out Of Hell II and a number of other Meat Loaf songs and albums. But he has not just worked with that artist. His songs have appeared across a wide and varied number of albums, recorded by a large number of different artists.
It is incredible how many people he has worked with successfully. He wrote the lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down The Wind. He wrote the musical Tanz Der Vampire. And he helped realise Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical. He is known for adapting old songs for new releases (sometimes unkindly called recycling) and new artists, but he still writes and produces new work.
He has released one solo album under his own name – Bad For Good.
There, that's him a nutshell. But his music is there on the soundtrack to the lives of so many of us. Here are the 5 songs I consider the best by this unheralded and little-regarded songwriter, who deserves more than just a plaque in the Songwriter's Hall Of Fame.
1) 'Read 'Em And Weep' by Barry Manilow (1983)
Originally a track on Meat Loaf's Dead Ringer album, Barry Manilow released it for his Greatest Hits Vol II album. He put emotion into it that was not as over the top as Meat Loaf's version. It was a great track that got a bit of airplay at the time, but is now seldom regarded. Time to change that, I feel.
2) 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' by Bonnie Tyler (1983)
From Tyler's Faster Than The Speed Of Night album, this song has remained a staple of power singers and karaoke 'stars' ever since. But no-one – and I mean no-one – has ever been able to match her incredible version. How many of us children of the 80s haven't sung – no, screamed – along to the song in a car at some point in our lives? And that video clip with the boys and their glowing eyes. But the song itself is a Steinman classic. He later recycled it for Tanz Der Vampire but I still maintain no-one has sung it like Bonnie Tyler.
3) 'It's All Coming Back To Me Now' by Celine Dion (1996)
Originally on the album by Jim Steinman's Pandora's Box, Celine Dion with her distinctive and powerful voice took it and made it her own. It was a top 10 hit in America and became a staple of her live act. While it might not have had the same cultural imposition as Bonnie Tyler's song, being treated as more an AOR track than a rock song, it is still in that standard Steinman over the top big chorus song. And Celine Dion does it brilliantly.
4) 'I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)' by Meat Loaf (1993)
From the critically acclaimed and fantastic sequel Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, you knew there had to be a Meat Loaf song on this list, didn't you? Again, over the top and long, but it's a song that has garnered debate (what is the 'that'? well, the answer is in the song lyrics…) and a lot of love. I prefer it to any track on the original Bat Out Of Hell (though 'Paradise By The Dashboard Light' and 'Heaven Can Wait' are also fantastically brilliant) there is just something about this song that strikes a chord.
5) 'Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through' by Jim Steinman (1981)
Okay – admission time. This is my favourite song of all time. Ever. Bar none. Other songs come and go, but for over 3 decades I have considered this my favourite. Meat Loaf did a decent cover, but this, the original, just… It does something to me. It takes me back to a time with Clare S that I will never forget. It takes me back to high school in the late 1980s. It takes me to my first uni degree. It takes me to coping with depression later in life. There is something about it that strikes a chord in me that I find hard to explain or describe. The video clip is cheesy (some would say crap) but it is the song that is the thing.
I love this song.
So, there you have it – an introduction to Jim Steinman for those who did not know, and for those who have heard of him, hopefully, a reminder of some classic tunes.