Meat Loaf - 'Braver Than We Are'

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Meat Loaf - 'Braver Than We Are'

A superb album, chock full of high quality composition and performance and great fun from start to finish.

For a late career album, 'Braver Than We Are' is a surprisingly compelling, varied and exhilarating affair. It sees the irrepressible Meat Loaf collaborating again with Jim Steinman, with whom he has sold sixty-seven million albums. Steinman contributes to all ten songs here, including the first he ever wrote, and the most recent.

"My voice just isn't what it was," Meat tells us in the macabre musical theatre of the irresistibly madcap opener 'Who Needs The Young', and maybe there's a hint of truth in that (hopefully his "legs", "lips" and "sex" are still in good working order). He may not impose himself quite as he once did, but he sings with real pathos and, sharing the limelight with female leads Stacy Michelle, Cian Coey and original 'Paradise By The Dashboard Light' girls Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito, actually works a treat.

Across the mind-boggling range of material one gets a real sense of team effort, which shows the value of even a "solo" performer running with a stable and top notch band, in this case a band of astonishing musical dexterity capable of giving even the more saccharine of Steinman's compositions a real edge.

The epic 'Going All The Way' (a song in six movements) will, not unfairly, attract attention given the presence of Foley and DeVito, but for me the album's stand out track is the up-tempo and ultra-modern sounding 'More', a refreshing blend of Rock, Indie, and Electronica previously recorded by the Sisters of Mercy. Other highlights include the pomp and earnestness of 'Godz' and 'Skull Of Your Country', the original home of the "bright eyes" section from Steinman's 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart'. Listen out too for David Luther's sax on the sometimes Bob Dylan-esque 'Souvenirs' and for Southern Rock legend Ricky Medlocke's slide guitar on runaway album closer 'Train Of Love', a song with backing vocals that show more than a hint of sympathy for the devil.

Meat Loaf is indisputably one of Rock music's largest and most enduring personalities, but who'd have thought he would work with Steinman again to such stunning effect. It's heartening that even in his twilight years he is still prepared to take chances and will do anything for his art – even that! This is a superb album, chock full of high quality composition and performance and great fun from start to finish.

Michael Anthony

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