"I've always thrived on really negative reaction," says Jim Steinman, whose distinctive brand of Wagnerian rock & roll has never garnered much critical flavor. Best known for his musical direction and compositions on Meat Loaf's multiplatinum 'Bat Out Of Hell,' Steinman has stepped out of the big man's shadow with his own record, 'Bad For Good,' and has written another album's worth of songs for Loaf's next LP, 'Dead Ringer For Love.' While sitting in a New York penthouse apartment, the voluble keyboardist discussed the labyrinthine road to his and Meat's new albums.
Q: How did your solo album come about?
In February 1979, Meat Loaf and I went out to do a few new demo tracks. He tried singing, but he sounded like the Exorcist - no exaggeration. He know something was definitely wrong, so he decided to stop early on and say, 'Look, I gotta go see a vocal doctor. I've just ripped up my voice on the road.' So he went off and I kept writing.
About a year later, Meat says 'Look Jimmy, I think my voice is gonna fail if I do them again. What do you think about writing me a whole new album?' I had about six songs I knew I could use, so I said, 'What do you think about letting me use the songs I've been working on for my own album?' I'd been talking about doing an album anyway, so basically we did a trade.
Q: What happened then?
Rather than do mine and then do Meat's, we decided to do Meat's 'cause he was restless. We finished all the basic tracks in July 1980, then Meat tried to sing them. But he just couldn't.
The last resort was a guy named Warren Barigian, a specialist in Bio Matrix who treated Jackson Browne. Barigian sent Meat Loaf to an allergist who found out Meat was allergic to pollen and cat fur. The allergist made a solution of the allergens, and Meat would sniff it until his body was overwhelmed.
Then the doctor injected Meat with another solution made from his own urine, which cause him to produce his own antibodies.
It was like a miracle cure. The thing is, I can't imagine Jackson Browne going to him. Early on, my suggestion was to call the guy and say, 'Why don't you inject some of Jackson Browne's urine into Meat Loaf? Maybe it would be quicker.'
But in the end, for me, artistically, it worked out great. Everyone thinks this guy Steinman must sing like a wimp because he's got Meat Loaf singing everything. But really, Meat sings a lot like me. I would do a lot of the phrasing, and he would not so much imitate as use it as a base, a foundation. A lot of people say I sing like Meat Loaf. I say Meat Loaf sings like me - when he's doing my songs.