In a 1981 BBC Rock Hour Special interview, Steinman recalls the writing process:
"I started writing what I felt was Bat Out Of Hell part 2, definitely like The Godfather part I and part 2, that's how I saw it. I wanted to do a continuation and I wanted to do an album that went even further and that was more extreme, if possible, which a lot of people felt wasn't possible but I just wanted to see if I could make a record that was even more heroic because that's what I thought of it... Bat Out Of Hell to me was ultimately very heroic though it was funny... and I wanted to do one that to me would be even more heroic and more epic and a little more operatic and passionate."The first two songs, "Bad for Good" and "Lost Boys and Golden Girls", were two of many songs written by Steinman under the inspiration of Peter Pan and lost boys who never grow up. This is reflected in lyrics in "Bad for Good" such as "You know I'm gonna be like this forever: I'm never gonna be what I should." The composer says that Peter Pan has "always been about my favorite story and I've always looked at it from the perspective that it's a great rock'n'roll myth because it's about — when you get right down to it — it's about a gang of lost boys who never grow up, who are going to be young forever and that's about as perfect an image for rock'n'roll as I can think of." "Lost Boys and Golden Girls" is the basis for the musical Neverland, which Steinman says is "a rock 'n' roll science fiction version of Peter Pan that takes place in a city built on the ruins of Los Angeles after a series of chemical wars." Neverland never got past the workshop stage, although the Bat Out of Hell musical scheduled to open in London in 2009 is based on the same concept.
The next track, "Love and Death and an American Guitar," is a spoken word fantasy monologue, performed by Steinman that he used to do in the Meat Loaf shows. It opens by quoting lyrics from Bat Out of Hell's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" ("I remember everything little thing as if it happened yesterday. I was barely seventeen"), but instead of being "barely dressed" the protagonist "once killed a boy with a Fender guitar." Influenced by The Doors, Steinman wanted to write a piece where "the rhythm wasn't coming from the drums so much as the voice — the rhythm of the spoken voice and the heartbeat behind it." The final two tracks were originally packaged with the LP on an additional vinyl disc." The Storm" is an orchestral piece. The final track, "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through," is a prayer to rock music, celebrating how it is always there to help you through troubled times. One of its lyrics is "You're never alone, 'cause you can put on the 'phones and let the drummer tell your heart what to do."
After the success of Bat Out of Hell, desperate for a follow-up, management and the record company put pressure on Jim Steinman to stop touring in order to write the next album, provisionally titled Renegade Angel. Steinman joined Meat Loaf and the band for a live performance in Toronto, Canada in 1978, with the intention of going through the songs for the new album after the show. However, someone allegedly broke into their dressing rooms during the show and stole several possessions, including the new lyric book. Many of the stolen songs would later appear on Bad for Good: "Surf's Up", "Left in the Dark" and "Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire)." Meat Loaf jokes that he doesn't think that Steinman ever got over that theft.
At the same time as Steinman was trying to reassemble the missing songs ("I kept writing the music to Bat Out Of Hell part 2... my sequel"), Meat Loaf entered what became a very tortured period. As Steinman put it in an interview: "I remember one...really cold winter's night in November... After the show, he was on the floor of the dressing room, sort of passed out, and pulling me towards him... And he says: 'Jimmy! I did it! I did it! I got 'em to cheer, even though I couldn't fucking sing! They loved it!' And I thought that was a scary observation." In another interview, Steinman says "he sounded literally like the little girl in The Exorcist... like a dragon trying to sing - it was a horrifying sound." Sure enough, Meat Loaf had lost his voice and was unable to record Renegade Angel, though Steinman went on to spend seven months trying to go over the songs with him in an effort to make the follow-up ("an infernal nightmare," as he put it). "He had lost his voice, he had lost his house, and he was pretty much losing his mind."
While waiting for Meat Loaf's voice to recover (it was now 1980, a year since the planned release date), Jim (along with Todd Rundgren and mixer John Jansen, who were brought in at the label's insistence to recreate the sound established on the first album) began laying down the basic instrumental tracks so that their time wouldn't be totally wasted. The session work was once again undertaken, for the most part, at Bearsville Studios. Rory Dodd contributed lead vocals on what were supposed to be demo takes of "Lost Boys and Golden Girls" and "Surf's Up." Many musicians and backing vocalists from Bat Out of Hell performed on Bad for Good, including Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Karla DeVito, who had been the female lead singer on the Meat Loaf tour, sang the female lead vocal on "Dance in My Pants."
Frequent Steinman collaborator Steve Margoshes returned for this album, orchestrating and conducting "The Storm", playing piano on "Left in the Dark", and providing the string arrangement for the extended fade-out of "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through." Will Malone provided the string arrangement for "Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire)," while popular horn player Tom Malone provided the horn arrangements for "Dance in My Pants" (and also managed to collar, in addition to himself, several members of the "Blues Brothers" horn section for the session). Famed New York session musician and arranger Charles Calello (known for his work with such early Sixties groups as Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons) conducted the orchestra on "Left in the Dark." Andrew Kazdin produced "The Storm".
When Meat Loaf's voice was finally starting to improve, after he'd taken time off from touring, played some baseball, detoxed, and made two movies, he told Steinman that he was so traumatized by the experience that he couldn't deal with the songs he'd been rehearsing because they reminded him too much of bad memories, and walked away from the album. Not being able to "bear for people not to hear those songs," Steinman decided to go back to the tracks in the can, add his own lead vocals, and release the album, retitled Bad for Good, as a solo project. Ultimately, his range proved unsuitable for the songs Rory Dodd sang lead on, which were left alone.
On the original vinyl release, "The Storm" and a second (non-album) song called "Dead Ringer for Love" were to be the A-side and B-side, respectively, of a 33-rpm 7" single, enclosed with the album. However, at the last minute, while Meat Loaf began work on a new album of Steinman material, he rejected one of the songs submitted in demo format (with Rory Dodd on lead vocals) as the closing track of the album, "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through." A quick switch led to the latter becoming the B-side of the EP. These tracks, according to Steinman's concept, then became regarded as the prelude and epilogue, respectively, of the album. The position of these tracks varies on the various CD versions. Some use the correct order, starting with "The Storm" and ending with "Rock and Roll Dreams," while others place both tracks at the end, or place "Rock and Roll Dreams" after "Stark Raving Love" and "The Storm" at the end of the album. Also, the spoken word epilogue to "Left in the Dark" is omitted from some CD versions.
Release and ReceptionEdit
The album reached number 63 in the Billboard Pop Albums chart, but peaked at number 14 in the Swedish Top 60 Albums. "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" was released as a single, reaching 14 in the Mainstream Rock chart, and number 32 in the Pop Singles chart.
The critical reaction to the album was rather mediocre. Many reviews commented that Steinman's singing voice was inadequate for the songs. Rolling Stone, who also gave a lukewarm review of the first Bat, said "Steinman's thin, reedy voice simply can't carry the absurd precocity of the lyrics." Allmusic also says that Steinman "simply doesn't have the vocal range or lung power necessary to make this dramatic style of rock & roll work. For example... [in] "Left in the Dark" he struggles to keep up with vocal demands of this orchestral ballad, resulting in a vocal that sounds strained and occasionally off-key." Billboard magazine, though, say that "to the surprise of many, Steinman's vocals sounded stronger than expected."
Allmusic also complain "that some of the songs repeat the Bat Out of Hell formula instead of building upon it; the obvious culprit in this arena is "Dance in My Pants," a duet that gratuitously recycles the battle of the sexes verbal sparring and the multi-part structure of Meat Loaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" to less-impressive effect." However, they do praise "Surf's Up" and "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through." They conclude that the album "is too inconsistent and eccentric to keep the attention of the casual listener, but remains an interesting listen for anyone who appreciates Jim Steinman's one-of-a-kind style of epic-size rock & roll."
Rolling Stone criticizes the "Wagnerian excess, feral "rock" playing and vile choristering," suggesting that "Todd Rundgren should have his wrists slapped for choking the upper end of his guitar's neck in a vainglorious approximation of epiphany." They cite lines from the title track ("And you think that I'll be bad for just a little while/But I know that I'll be bad for good.") as "probably the most perfect self-review in the history of rock & roll." Sounds magazine offers a positive review, saying that it's the album "you've been waiting four years for."
- The Storm
- Bad for Good
- Lost Boys and Golden Girls
- Love and Death and an American Guitar
- Stark Raving Love
- Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire)
- Surf's Up
- Dance in My Pants
- Left in the Dark
- Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through
- Lead Vocals, Assorted Keyboards - Jim Steinman
- Guitar (Tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10), Guitar Solo (Track 7), Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 3, 5- 8, 10) - Todd Rundgren
- Additional Guitars (Track 2), Multiple Guitar Finale (Track 5), Guitars/Mandolin (Track 7), Acoustic Guitars (Track 10) - Davey Johnstone
- Bass (Tracks 2, 6, 7), Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 3, 5-8, 10) - Kasim Sulton
- Bass (Tracks 5, 8, 10) - Steve Buslowe
- Bass (Track 9) - Neal Jason
- Piano, Keyboards - Roy Bittan
- Piano (Track 9) - Steve Margoshes
- Synthesizers (Tracks 2, 8, 10) - Roger Powell
- Synthesizers (Track 4) - Larry "Synergy" Fast
- Horns (Tracks 8, 10) - Lou Del Gatto (baritone sax), Tom "Bones" Malone (trombone), Lou Marini (tenor sax/solo on Track 10), Alan Rubin (trumpet)
- Drums (Tracks 2, 6-8, 10) - Max Weinberg
- Drums (Track 5) - Joe Stefko
- Drums (Track 9) - Alan Schwartzberg
- Percussion (Tracks 7, 8, 10) - Jimmy Maelen
- Female Lead Vocals (Track 8) - Karla DeVito
- Featured Lead Vocals (Tracks 3, 7, 10), Backing Vocals - Rory Dodd
- Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 6) - Ellen Foley
- Backing Vocals (Tracks 6-10) - Eric Troyer
- Orchestra - New York Philharmonic