Meat Loaf - 'Hell In A Handbasket'

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Meat Loaf - 'Hell In A Handbasket'

Meat Loaf’s most personal album to date.

Meat Loaf’s credibility as a reliable live performer may have been shot down in flames in recent years; largely due to a series of nasty health issues and a weakening voice that may or may not be attributed to age but he still continues to make some interesting solo albums. ‘Hang Cool Teddy Bear’, his last opus, was not to everyone’s tastes but personally, I preferred its diversity over the inconsistencies of the ultimately disappointing ‘Bat Out Of Hell 3’. Okay, so it’s no secret that Meat Loaf’s best albums are those which feature significant input from Jim Steinman but even some of the Loaf’s albums that don’t feature a single song written by the elusive songwriting genius are well worth listening to, and ‘Hell In A Handbasket’ is one of them.

‘Hell In A Handbasket’ is Meat Loaf’s response to the global economic and social troubles of recent years and for that reason it’s his most personal album to date. Although it lacks the hard rock of, say, ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ (his most underrated album) and the spine-tinkling bombast of the first two ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ albums, there’s something moving and effective about the album’s sombreness. There are a couple of oddball tracks such as the epic ‘Blue Sky/Mad Mad World/The Good God Is A Woman And She Don’t Like Ugly’ with guest vocals from no other than – gulp – Chuck D from the legendary rap group Public Enemy and a cover of The Mamas & The Papas hippie anthem ‘California Dreamin’’ with additional vocals from none other than the fabulous Patti Russo. (Russo also appears on the moving ballad ‘Our Love & Our Souls’.) Oh, and there’s also the country flavoured ‘Stand In The Storm’ with vocals from country singers Trace Atkins and Mark McGrath as well as the rapper Lil John. With that info at hand it is obvious that ‘Hell In A Handbasket’ is different from his past work, very different. The album is produced by ex-Anthrax guitarist Paul Crook who’s been in Meat Loaf’s band The Neverland Express for at least the past eight or nine years and he’s done a good job as producer.

Not all the tracks will be to everybody’s tastes and some Meat Loaf fans will listen to some of the tracks with looks of horror on their confused faces but it’s obvious that now in his mid-sixties, Meat Loaf is finding new ways of trying to stay relevant and popular in a world that’s increasingly fickle towards music artists.

Neil Daniels

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