Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published June 9th 2021
All 12 Meat Loaf albums ranked
Following the recent death of Jim Steinman, I found myself listening to the albums he wrote for/produced more and more (between all the new albums I have been buying). I have not watched TV in about a month or so (save the odd movie with friends, like Army Of The Dead) as I just fill my life with music. And, so, being in a Jim Steinman mindset, I found myself listening to a lot of Meat Loaf, and a deep dive into all his albums occurred. I then mentioned I was doing this online and someone suggested I should do another ranking list, this time of Meat Loaf's albums, as I do like them all.
This will involve only his studio albums, not live or compilation works. And not when he performed with someone else (Stoney & Meatloaf and Free-For-All with Ted Nugent – which I do not own, and cannot even find – therefore miss out). That leaves us with twelve albums to look at.
Now, quickly, I only do rankings if I like everything in a list. So you know I'm going to gush a fair bit here. Meat Loaf is one of my favourite music artists and I make no bones about it. He is magnificent.
12. Braver Than We Are (2016) The most recent album suffers from a couple of things. First, it was advertised as being another Steinman-written album, but the songs were all recorded by other artists or came from Steinman's attempts at musicals. Second, Meat Loaf's voice struggles a little too often. This is a mediocre album; not bad, but not great. Still, there are some good tracks here. Key tracks: 'Going All The Way' (feat. Ellen Foley & Karla DeVito) (the single version is 5 minutes long; the album version is over 11 minutes and is better); 'Loving You's A Dirty Job (But Somebody's Gotta Do It)' (feat. Stacy Michelle)
11. Hell In A Handbasket (2011) Unfortunately, another album that does not hit the heights it promised. There is a mish-mash of styles here that feels like the producer let it down. Meat Loaf, however, delivers a decent performance on most tracks, even if the charity single feels like it does not belong. Unfortunately, this could have been better. As it is, it has some decent tracks on it. Key tracks: 'All Of Me'; 'Our Love & Our Souls' (feat. Patti Russo)
10. Couldn't Have Said It Better (2003)
We reach the good albums, and, yes, this is a good album. However, it lacks one thing – any really stand-out tracks that could have been arena scream-alongs. Don't get me wrong, there are great songs on here (including a Dylan cover), but none scream, "Single!" to me. He is singing as well as ever, and the music behind him is fine, so this is a good album, and one I do enjoy. Key tracks: 'Couldn't Have Said It Better'; 'Love You Out Loud'; 'Forever Young' (Bob Dylan cover)
9. Blind Before I Stop (1986) And we reach the first of the albums where cutting it down to three key tracks proved a headache. All albums from here on in have that issue, by the way. 1980s Meat Loaf is often considered an acquired taste, and the biggest issue with this album is that the production does not work. But even that could not hold Meat Loaf back on most of the songs, including some tracks that, as his live albums attest to, are made for arenas.
Key tracks: 'Rock'n'Roll Mercenaries' (with John Parr); 'One More Kiss (Night Of The Soft Parade)' (one of my favourite Meat Loaf songs); 'Rock'n'Roll Hero'
8. Midnight At The Lost And Found (1983)
We hit an interesting album here. While I do understand it is not looked upon as favourably as some others in his canon, it does have one of my all-time favourite Meat Loaf songs and my favourite Meat Loaf cover version (non-Steinman) on it, so I can never put this one down. Meat Loaf is in fine voice and the band behind him is tight. There is a story that if Meat Loaf and Steinman were not in the middle of one of their disagreements, 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' would have ended up here instead of on Bonnie Tyler's album, but I don't think this album needed it.
Key tracks: 'Keep Driving' (the aforementioned favourite); 'The Promised Land' (the aforementioned cover); 'If You Really Want To'
7. Welcome To The Neighbourhood (1995)
This is an album I was not as keen on when it came out but it has grown on me over the years. I think I was comparing it to the album it came after (Bat Out Of Hell II) instead of looking at it as its own entity. And there are some really strong tracks here, including one of his best non-Bat Steinman songs.
Key tracks: 'I'd Lie For You (And that's The Truth)'; 'Runnin' For The Red Light (I Gotta Life)' (a re-written Easybeats song); 'Left In The Dark' (the aforementioned Steinman track)
6. Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose (2006)
Not sure why this is the third Bat… album as not all songs were written by Steinman. Still, as a collection of songs, it is damn fine! There are the power ballads, the rock and roll belters and everything in between – all you want from a Meat Loaf album. Under-rated later era Meat Loaf.
Key tracks: 'It's All Coming Back To Me Now' (feat. Marion Raven); 'Bad For Good'; 'The Future Ain't What It Used To Be' (feat. Jennifer Hudson)
Okay, the last 5 albums are all great. No two ways about it.
5. Hang Cool Teddy Bear (2010)
I was led to believe when this album came out it was a concept album based on the dreams of a wounded soldier. I'm not sure I get that. What I get instead is a series of songs that just rock. This is close to being as over-the-top as a Jim Steinman written album, so you know it's pretty good. The collection of songwriters Meat Loaf gathered for this album helps in that and his voice is there. Fine collection.
Key tracks: 'Los Angeloser'; 'Love Is Not Real/Next Time You Stab Me In The Back' (with Brian May and Steve Vai on guitar); 'Elvis In Vegas'
4. Bad Attitude (1984)
I think this is Meat Loaf at his closest to being a hard rock artiste. It feels like a lot of the NWOBHM that was around, but with that Meat Loaf bombast to set it apart. Again, people put down Meat Loaf in the 1980s, but I thought his stuff rocked and this is an album no one remembers, but they should. It is just great.
Key tracks: 'Modern Girl'; 'Don't Leave Your Mark On Me'; 'Sailor To A Siren'
3. Dead Ringer (1981)
And speaking of Meat Loaf's 1980s output, this Jim Steinman penned album is absolutely brilliant. There was some talk that if Meat Loaf hadn't lost his voice, what became Steinman's own brilliant Bad For Good album would have been Meat Loaf's second, but as it was, we got Dead Ringer and all was right with the world. It is fun, it is over-the-top (the final verse of 'More Than You Deserve' with a group of his friends… wow), and it is just great. Forgotten classic.
Key tracks: 'I'm Gonna Love Her For Both Of Us'; 'Read 'Em And Weep'; 'Dead Ringer For Love' (duet with Cher)
Cheat time! I couldn't decide between the next two. Sorry.
=1. Bat Out Of Hell (1977)
A classic album in every sense of the word, this album just screams rock. So many have tried to match this for sheer everythingness, and none have succeeded. With Steinman's magnificent songwriting and Meat Loaf's extraordinary voice, this is an album that deserves to be heralded as one of the greatest ever recorded. Not a bad song on it, not a kink in the armour – it started here and it continues to this day.
Key tracks: (can I say all of them?) 'Bat Out Of Hell'; 'Heaven Can Wait'; 'Paradise By The Dashboard Light'
=1. Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell (1993)
Who would ever have thought that after a commercially lean 1980s (not quality-wise… as this list can attest to), Meat Loaf would burst back onto the scene with something almost unheard of in rock music – a sequel album. And he did. And it works. And it is another album that deserves the epithet 'classic'. In the middle of grunge, they dominated. No one was expecting this, and yet here it is – another masterpiece from the Steinman-Meat Loaf duo.
Key tracks: (all of them again?) 'I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)'; 'Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through'; 'Everything Louder Than Everything Else'
Okay, so there we are. Twelve albums. Some okay, some good, some great. None bad. And this is possibly another good way to remember Jim Steinman. But Meat Loaf is no slouch, either. He has proven time and again that he can deliver the goods.