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By Matthew Sorrento | December 2, 2009

If there’s a purgatory for wedding haters, I’d guess that Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” is on the soundtrack loop. That three-songs-in-one number, “Paradise by Sleeping Till the End of Time,” is often requested by brides and loathed/feared by grooms. The song’s cutesy back-in-forth between Meat and the throaty babe feels like a memory of a bad sitcom, one you’ve surfed upon too often and hence cannot shake. I remember continually seeing “Bat Out of Hell” in the discount bins at Sam Goody. I feel like I’ve heard the songs just as often.

Truth is that the studio version of Meat Loaf made bland what was pretty raw when done live – more Springsteen than Boss fans would care to admit. Perhaps the theatrically of Jim Steinman’s compositions made the album sound like a glossy soundtrack for a Broadway show. The main culprit may be Steinman’s dramatic readings – the most famous at the start of “Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth” (“I’d bet you say that to all the boys”). When reciting them live, Steinman delivers fun in an off-off-Broadway manner, matching the overall tone of this filmed concert from the original tour (from a German TV program Rockpalast). He bangs away on the piano, and a lively ensemble follows.

Kiss fans will get a treat when seeing the Kulick brothers on guitars. An established studio musician by this time, Bob Kulick had appeared on Paul Stanley’s solo album and filled in when Ace Frehley started defecting. This older Kulick would recommend his brother, Bruce, as a permanent replacement. Bob plays most of the solos on a BC Rich “Bitch,” though Bruce – pre-Glam and mustached, 70’s style – also jams out.

Here we have the joyously bulbous Meat, young, post-”Rocky Horror” with that magnificent voice and a vigor he’d never find again. (Lookout for his somersault at full-throttle!) Stress left him unable to record the follow-up release: an album with Steinman on lead vocals was a like a class-A musical starring the understudies.

This disc captures some lively innocence of the late ’70s, so much that we forgive occasionally poor audio and visuals. (Apparently the camera operators were excited, too.)

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