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Meat Loaf - Hits Out of Hell
Sony Music Video/Sony BMG . R4 . COLOR . 57 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

“It was long ago and it was far away
and it was so much better than it is today...”

Well, that lyrical quote may be a touch dramatic in describing Bat Out of Hell nowadays, however a certain amount of histrionics seem quite appropriate considering. In 1977, Meat Loaf had been scarcely heard of outside the dinner tables of suburbia. Probably most renowned for his turn as Eddie the biker in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the somewhat large gent whose surname was Aday (can I be adult enough to avoid musing about his name being Meat Loaf Aday – which was possibly his dietary intake? Nope, looks like I can’t – oh well...) – was about to achieve world fame after teaming up with a man with a vision – Jim Steinman.

But it certainly didn’t happen over night, in fact the gestation of Bat Out of Hell could be dated back to 1973. Conceived as another one of those rock opera type things we all tend to snigger over nowadays, it was rejected by record companies more times than an average looking person at a fashion shoot, until finally, and quite appropriately, it emerged on the Epic label. Some then and future big names were roped in – Todd Rundgren for production and some guitars, Edgar Winter, members of Brooooooce’s E Street Band and singer Ellen Because the Night Foley, whose fabulously pouty dramatics provided a wonderful icing on an already explosively calorie-stuffed musical cake.

Now, let’s be honest. Most people who will consider purchasing the Hits Out of Hell DVD will do so because of the Bat Out of Hell tracks – the first single You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth, the over the top ballad Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, the weak-bladdered party DJ’s favourite Paradise By the Dashboard Light (complete with Meat going the snog’n’grope with Ellen – ewwy...) and the titular song all having become classic ‘70s staples – not surprising considering the album has, to date, sold over 30 million copies worldwide. Think of it, that’s almost double the population of Australia – wow!

This compilation was cobbled together back in 1991, and does also include some post-Bat tracks, allowing for some more OTT silliness with the employ of props such as trucks, diners, asylums and limos. Hey, when you’re as big as Mr Loaf, why do things by halves? But who cares about such filler? Those silly (and remarkably sweaty) clips we remember from Countdown are all here in their original fuzzy glory, and serve as a great little time capsule of a certain type of (hopefully) knowing musical pompousness that is lacking in the marketing-only driven musical world of today. And yes, as this DVD has just been released in a (great value) double pack with a remastered copy of the Bat Out of Hell album boasting three bonus tracks sticky-taped on, the irony of that last sentence isn’t lost on me...

Track listing:

Bat Out of Hell
Read’em and Weep
Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
Razor’s Edge
More Than You Deserve
I’m Gonna Love Her for Both of Us
If You Really Want to
You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth
Paradise By the Dashboard Light

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

Do you remember seeing these clips on telly and they all seemed to be shrouded in some sort of white fuzzy haze? Well, guess what? This disc doesn’t mess with those memories, for that’s how they look today. You want fuzz? You got it. You want grain? You got it. You want piss-poor shadow detail? You got it. You want speckles? You got’em. What – you don’t want any of that icky stuff? Well tough luck sister (or brother, natch), for that’s what you get. The whole full frame presentation may not look fabulous, but it’s the best it’s gonna get – and regardless of visual flaws, the campy ludicrousness of it all still comes through delightfully loud and clear.

Speaking of things loud and clear, two audio options are provided. To keep the musical purists happy there’s the pleasing inclusion of a Linear PCM mix, and for those who baulk at any release that doesn’t claim to feature Dolby Digital 5.1 (“I bought all those bloody speakers, so I want them ALL to bloody well work, ALL the bloody time, goddammit!”) a remixed version is here, and as much as it may pain people to hear it, the PCM mix has the ascendancy – with the 5.1 mix managing to sound a trifle odd at times, and also on the odd occasion highlighting some slight flaws in the original tapes it’s assumed were used. The subwoofwoof is for the most part overlooked, and little in the way of surround usage is forthcoming. Occasionally synch drifts out a little; however this appears more due to dodgy miming than any fault with the transfer.

The inclusion of extras is scarcely anything to get excited about, with a rudimentary biography that runs to only a few pages, and a frankly laughable discography which lists a number of releases, but only has cover shots for four of them – and no track listings. The wonderful opportunity for menus with motorcycles bursting through the screen and bats dodging gravestones was sadly declined in favour of a, well, boring as bat shit static screen. Probably the best ‘bonus’ is the addition of lyrical subtitles, always most welcome on a release such as this, and a veritable wet dream for couch-bound karaoke stars.

As mentioned, Hits Out of Hell is newly available at the time of writing (October, 2002) in a double pack with a remastered copy of the Bat Out of Hell album, to celebrate/exploit the 25th anniversary of its release – you can even select between a CD or DVD sized pack. If you aren’t one of the 30 million folk to already own the album, and have fond memories of hot summer nights in the ‘70s getting a bit of Meat Loaf action in the back of a Sandman*, then here’s a brilliant value opportunity to rekindle such recollections. Pass me a Chiko roll and an RC Cola – it’s time to party!

* Dear readers, please be assured that I was most certainly NOT old enough at the time to partake in such activities, so certain poetic licences have been exploited for the sake of finding a way to finish the review off. Yeah, yeah, sure – I know, now you’re thinking, “I bet you say that to all the boys”...


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  •   And I quote...
    "Will it offer me great memories?
    Yes!
    Will it offer me great silliness?
    Yes!
    Will it offer me great transfer quality?
    (disgruntled pause)... erm, well no, actually...
    Hey, well two out of three ain’t bad, right?"
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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