In 1993, Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell was released as a sequel to Bat Out of Hell. It contained some new songs and some songs recycled from Bad for Good and Original Sin. The most notable song from this album is "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," which was a #1 hit in 28 countries.
The album opens with "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)". It was the first song that Steinman wrote for the album and, he says, is "definitely a Beauty and the Beast story." The track begins with a guitar played to sound like a revving motorcycle, a reference to Todd Rundgren's contribution in the middle of "Bat Out of Hell." Each verse comprises two things that he would do for love, followed by one thing that he would not do. It is that latter parts of each chorus that is the "that" of the title. However, some people misunderstand the lyrics, claiming that the singer never identifies what the "that" is that he is unwilling to do, a confusion that Steinman predicted during production. The song combines stadium rock and ballad for much of its twelve minutes. However, near the end of the song, a female vocalist is introduced. Credited in the liner notes as Mrs. Loud, this part was sung by Lorraine Crosby, a performer from North East England.
Rundgren points out that "the themes of the songs were darker." The second track, "Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back," demonstrates this pessimism. Several things are identified as "defective," including love, sex, gods, childhood and the future. Allmusic labels it "a stomping rocker that wraps serious feelings in a cryptically witty metaphor." Despite the pessimism, both Allmusic and Meat Loaf point out that "it is a funny song."
The third 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." The fourth track also has dark overtones. "It Just Won't Quit", Steinman explains, "is about the fact that there are some things you never shake off... That's love, I guess." "Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire)" is a more upbeat song.
The album's sixth track, "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are" is a three part narrative that uses pathetic fallacy, where the seasons (summer, winter and spring) reflect the atmosphere of the events being described, drawing "its inspiration from the singer's often-tragic childhood. The lyrics portray a man who has overcome tragedies in his life yet still feels haunted by their memory." Steinman says that it was "the hardest song to write and get across."
It's a very passionate song. It's really, I think maybe, the most passionate one on the record. I mean, I'm really proud of it because that's really one that goes over-the-top in the sense that it's got images - it has religious imagery of resurrection, it's got images of fertility and rebirth, it has really very good sexual images, images of cars - which I always like.
The track quotes lyrics from the original's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" ("It was long ago and it was far away"), as does the next track, "Wasted Youth," a spoken word fantasy monologue (a remixed version of "Love and Death and an American Guitar" from Steinman's Bad for Good album). The 1977 song's opening line "I remember every little thing as if it happened yesterday [...] I was barely seventeen" opens this track also, 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."
According to Steinman, "Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)" is a "teenage prayer." "Lost Boys and Golden Girls" is "Steinman's interpretation of the story of Peter Pan." 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 and 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 and roll as I can think of."
After a series of protracted financial and legal disputes during the 1980s, and following a brief "reunion" meeting at a New York recording studio called the Power Station in 1985, Steinman and Meat Loaf met at the singer's house in Connecticut at Christmas 1989 or 1990 and sang Bat Out of Hell on piano. Steinman says that "working together again seemed like the cool thing to do." Steinman began writing several new songs and showing them to Meat Loaf with an eye toward assembling a new album from songs they both wanted to use for the project. Among the new songs he showed Meat Loaf were "It Just Won't Quit," "Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)," and "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," in addition to four songs from Bad for Good that he had slotted into the mix, feeling no doubt that enough time had passed for Meat Loaf to have hazy recollections of the infamous "bad memories" that kept him from recording them in the first place.
However, in the time that passed between reuniting with Meat Loaf and working on a new album with him, Steinman released the album Original Sin, recorded by a girl group he had formed called Pandora's Box. Given the ongoing nature of his work with Meat at the time, some of the unreleased or new songs featured on the album ("Good Girls Go to Heaven," "It Just Won't Quit," "All Coming Back") overlapped with material initially intended for Meat Loaf, which caused some concern on Meat's part at the time. Meat Loaf says "Jim put "It Just Won't Quit" on Original Sin without telling me. I could have strangled him." In the end, the album was a commercial flop, allaying any fears Meat Loaf had of the songs' success without his voice.
As the Eighties drew to a close, Steinman gave Meat Loaf half the songs for the album (namely, the previously released works), but refused to give him any more until he changed managers. The singer was being managed by Walter Winneck and George Gilbert, who Meat Loaf credits as being "honest guys" but, under Steinman's influence, came to believe would be "incapable of dealing with the record companies" on Bat II. On Steinman's recommendation (mainly due to his having gotten Richard Marx back royalties owed him by EMI, results Steinman and Meat Loaf hoped to replicate with Sony in terms of unpaid Bat royalties), he hired Allen Kovac.
Initially, as with the original Bat album, Meat Loaf and Steinman had trouble selling the piece to record labels; this time, however, the labels were less than convinced by the viability of a sequel idea. Steinman had no trouble arranging international distribution via his deal with Virgin Records (who released Original Sin), but the U.S. was more problematic. Meat Loaf was signed to Arista Records at the time, and when the proposal for the album was presented, Arista rejected the album outright, saying that with Steinman in the producer's chair, the album would quickly exceed any initial budget presented, and they weren't willing to take that risk. Meat Loaf severed ties with Arista as a result. Al Teller, president of CBS Records, expressed interest, only to be shot down by the execs at parent company Sony, who feared this would only open many doors in terms of Bat royalties that they wished to remain closed; however, fate was on the side of Steinman and Meat Loaf, for when Al Teller left CBS in 1988 to undertake a new position at MCA Records, he brought Bat II with him, and finally a deal was struck.
Allen Kovac, upon hearing the new songs Steinman had written for the album, informed Meat and Jim that they didn't just make albums, they made events. In terms of marketing, they had to make this album happen like an event. Executives at Virgin Records were only too happy to help in a variety of matters, including choosing the title. Steinman was in favor of the title Bat Out of Hell II from the very beginning; as he stated in a 1993 promotional interview, "It really does feel like an extension of that... It was a chance to go back to that world and explore it deeper. It always seemed incomplete because I conceived it like a film, and what would you do without Die Hard 2?" However, Steinman's choice for a title met with concern from other parties who felt that a directly marketed sequel might not even approach the success of the original. In a 2006 interview, Steinman said, "...at MCA, where it ended up in America, it was referred to as a joke openly [...] even [Meat Loaf] said: 'You're fucking crazy!' But I saw it as a cinematic series. Like I always enjoyed the second Godfather film more than the first, and the first was great, you know?" Ultimately, Virgin Records agreed with him for marketing purposes (as Steinman put it, "to identify with the first record") and the title stayed in place.
As well as providing thematic consistency with the original, the repetition of iconography also acted as a vital marketing tool. Executives at Virgin Records thought that this was important to attract the target audience, who they believed no longer spent much time in record shops. They felt that similarities to the design of the first album, including Meat Loaf's name in Gothic typography, would entice consumers of the 1977 album to purchase this. With this view in mind, sci-fi/fantasy artist Michael Whelan was hired to do the cover art, following the style of Richard Corben's cover for Bat out of Hell. It features the biker from the first cover flying on his motorcycle towards a giant bat perched on top of New York City's Chrysler Building. Echoing the gravestones of the first cover, partially destroyed skyscrapers inhabit the lava landscape. Also like the first album, it features a 'Songs by Jim Steinman' credit, small and located at the bottom of the cover. In addition, Whelan provided small illustrations for the CD booklet to accompany all of the lyrics to the songs (these illustrations were also used as the covers for the respective singles with which they were associated).
Meanwhile, recording sessions for the album were ongoing. In keeping with the marketing team's advice, many of the performers and musicians from the original album returned for the sequel, including Roy Bittan, Todd Rundgren (who once again arranged and performed much of the background vocals), Ellen Foley, Rory Dodd and Kasim Sulton. Steinman introduced new elements to the group, including long-term collaborator Steven Rinkoff (behind the mixing board; the album was mixed by David Thoener, with the exception of three tracks mixed by Rinkoff), synthesizer wizard Jeff Bova, guitarist Eddie Martinez, drummer Jimmy Bralower, and singer Lorraine Crosby (whom he was managing at the time) as a duet partner, while Meat Loaf brought in many members of his live band at the time, including Steve Buslowe (who had played on the original live tour for Bat with Meat and Jim, thus completing another full circle) and Amy Goff and her sister Elaine.
During the recording process, the pressure was on to finish the album as quickly as possible. However, with Steinman in the producer's chair and writing the whole album on top of that, this was an unlikely prospect. The record company had rented Jim a mansion from Merv Griffin, where Jim had been ensconced during much of the recording process, writing new songs (Bittan and Rinkoff received associate producer credit, and Meat Loaf and the musicians received co-arranger credit, for running much of the main session work after Jim laid down the broad strokes; Jim was primarily concerned with the vocal work). As Meat Loaf puts it, "The way Jim works on an album is this: first, he recycles stuff that's either been lying around, or often songs he's used elsewhere in another form [...] then he writes three or four new songs, and that makes the album new. When he has the content down, then the album is ready to be recorded." After staying at the mansion for ages, Meat Loaf, Kovac, and managing partner Jeff Sydney were dismayed to find that Steinman hadn't completed anything beyond the five initial previously recorded tracks. Kovac and Sydney then placed Jim on a schedule, giving him a deadline to finish the songs by September or they would bring in other writers and finish it themselves. At one point, Gregg Fulkerson (of the band Blue Tears, another Kovac client) was asked to contribute a song to the album. "A Date with Destiny" was written and submitted in demo form, and at one point was considered on the record, until Steinman finally came back to the drawing board with the last song (by Steinman's own account, "Objects") and Fulkerson's contribution was discarded at Jim's insistence.
According to Meat Loaf, he and Steinman only had one "big fight" throughout the album's production, which occurred during the mixing of "Life Is a Lemon." Ultimately, Steinman lost the battle, but won the war; his mix of "Life Is a Lemon" is heard on the 1998 greatest hits compilation The Very Best of Meat Loaf. Production took a long time, mainly because of the length of the songs. The singer says, "Jim's songs may be miniature operas, but they're always too long for radio." Steinman fought with Kovac over the edit of "I'd Do Anything for Love," with the manager advising that radio stations were unlikely to play anything over five minutes long. Finally, a single edit was made when Steinman was informed that the record company would decide what to edit out of the song if he didn't; Steinman submitted a single edit to the record company's specifications, and later shipped his own edit of the song to radio stations across the country, to little or no avail.
In a 1999 documentary celebrating the original album, Meat Loaf says that Bat out of Hell polarizes people: some hate it, and some worship it. The sequel was released September 14, 1993, and the bombast did not meet with some critics' approval.
As with the first album, Rolling Stone gave the album a mixed review. They call it "harmless, low-octane operatic drivel" with "insufferably long Steinman compositions with equally long names." Non-specialist publications gave the most negative reviews. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram also referred to the length of the songs, in which Steinman "vomits up 75 minutes of endlessly repeated choruses." The newspaper branded it "the worst pop album of 1993." The Des Moines Register thought that the album was "wallowing in excess so gratuitous as to make Michael Bolton, by comparison, seem a master of understatement... Mountains of banshee-like wailing guitars! Thunderous drums! Herniated vocals! Profoundly stupid lyrics! Gack. This isn't pandering to the lowest common denominator - it's lowering the lowest common denominator."
Even some specialist music press joined the fray. Q magazine referred to the excesses of Steinman's style, citing the length of the songs (Q says that "Objects..." running to 10mins 12secs is "not necessary"). Unlike the original, where the epic loud songs were "offset by the softness of stuff like "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad"... even the ballads are Roman orgies of sound and fury." This, they say, means "the album's probable theme - the crushing effect growing up has on teenage dreams - seems to get lost among the thud and blunder." Looking at how "Steinman's old-fashioned teen-dream rock 'n' roll fantasies" fit in with the music culture of 1993, Kerrang! suggested that it wouldn't appeal to "Nirvana and Metallica fans."
However, these reviews couldn't cast a dim light on the return of the Bat. The album was a commercial hit, and has sold more than 14 million copies around the globe. It was number one for one week in the US on the Billboard 200, and the UK album charts, and number one in Australia for four weeks. Meat Loaf won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo for "I'd Do Anything for Love", which became a number-one hit in 28 countries. It was at the top of the UK singles chart for seven weeks, making it the most successful single in the UK that year. Simultaneously, Meat Loaf released "Bat Out of Hell" as a single, which also made the top ten in the UK, making Meat Loaf the only artist (at the time) to have two top-ten UK singles at the same time.
"Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #11 on the UK singles chart. The third single from the album, "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are," did less well when it was released in 1994, reaching #38 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #26 in the UK. "Life Is a Lemon," not released as a single, was played enough in some markets to be identified as #17 in the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
In the wake of its commercial success, critics began reflecting on the work more positively. Q reversed its position, saying of the album that "truly this... is the genuine follow-up to the most over-the-top rock album of all time," concluding with the sentiment that "ultimately, Back Into Hell may not trash its predecessor, but as a mad, crunching, stadium rock album, it's probably the best thing of its kind you'll hear this year." Kerrang! now gave the album 4 stars, declaring it "a work of genius, a ready made Rock classic and arguably the last word in Rock operas." In The Tip Sheet, Jonathan King labeled it a "glorious, splendid album," celebrating Meat Loaf's "operatically gorgeous" voice and Steinman's "superb" songs, arrangements and production. "You'll be blown away. Better still you'll catch yourself openly laughing out loud at times with delight. You know what to expect yet it's constantly better, fresher and brighter than you hope. If they had a Mercury Music Prize for American albums, this would win it hands down."
Like the original, later retrospective reviews are appreciative. Allmusic appreciates the bombast and "the pseudo-operatic splendor of Jim Steinman's grandly cinematic songs. Responding to concerns about length and overstatement, they reply, "that's precisely the point of this album, and is also why it works so well. No other rock & roller besides Meat Loaf could pull off the humor and theatricality of Back Into Hell and make it seem real. In that sense, it's a worthy successor to the original."
Michael Bay directed three music videos from the album. "I'd Do Anything for Love" is based on Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera. "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" features a runaway girl, played by Angelina Jolie. "Objects in the Rear View Mirror" illustrates the song's narrative. Featuring Robert Patrick, the video contained flying aircraft imagery that he would use in Armageddon and Pearl Harbor.
In 1994, the three films were released as the VHS tape Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell 2--Picture Show, which also included alternate versions of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," "Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back" and "I'd Do Anything for Love," all featuring female lead vocalist Patti Russo. They were included on a DVD in 2006 with the 'Collector's Edition' release of the album.
- I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)
- Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back
- Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through
- It Just Won't Quit
- Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire)
- Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
- Wasted Youth
- Everything Louder Than Everything Else
- Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)
- Back Into Hell
- Lost Boys and Golden Girls
- Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 4): Meat Loaf
- Guitar (Tracks 4, 5): Pat Thrall
- Guitar (Tracks 1-5): Tim Pierce
- Guitar (Tracks 1, 2, 6, 8, 9): Eddie Martinez
- Bass: Steve Buslowe
- Piano, Keyboards: Roy Bittan
- Piano (Tracks 6, 8, 11): Bill Payne
- Synthesizer, Programming: Jeff Bova
- Saxophone (Tracks 3, 9): Lenny Pickett
- Bagpipes, Drums (Track 8): Brian Meagher, Brian Meagher Jr., Justin Meagher
- Drums: Kenny Aronoff
- Drums (Tracks 6, 8): Rick Marotta
- Drums (Track 9): Jimmy Bralower
- Voice (Track 7), Backing Vocals (Track 2): Jim Steinman
- Female Lead Vocals (Track 1), Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 6, 8): Lorraine "Mrs. Loud" Crosby
- Additional Vocals (Track 6): Ellen Foley
- Additional Vocals (Track 6), Backing Vocals: Rory Dodd
- Backing Vocals: Todd Rundgren, Kasim Sulton
- Additional Backing Vocals (Track 9): Curtis King
- Additional Backing Vocals (Track 11): Eric Troyer
- Additional Backing Vocals (Track 2): Robert Coron, Brett Cullen, Cynthia Geary, Michelle Little, Gunnar & Matthew Nelson
- Additional Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 6): Stuart Emerson
- Additional Backing Vocals (Tracks 2, 9): Amy & Elaine Goff
- Additional Backing Vocals (Tracks 6, 8): Max Haskett