By 1986, Meat Loaf found himself in a bit of a predicament. 1984’s Bad Attitude had failed to reach the heights scaled by Bat Out of Hell or even its follow-up Dead Ringer for Love. After the disappointing sales of 1983’s Midnight at the Lost and Found, that made two straight albums which failed to meet the artist’s potential. So the powerhouse vocalist chose to wait a bit before recording his next album. He hoped to bring back the main ingredient of his first two albums: composer/lyricist/auteur Jim Steinman. His record label at the time, Arista, had other plans. They wanted a record out much sooner and did not want to wait on the famously perfectionist Steinman. Without his principal collaborator, Meat Loaf entered the studio in January 1986 to begin recording what would become Blind Before I Stop. The 1986 album has just been reissued by the Cherry Red imprint Hear No Evil Recordings. This follows the label’s reissues of Bad Attitude and 1987’s Meat Loaf: Live at Wembley.
Blind was a sonic departure for the singer. It was the first of his albums to fully embrace the production style of the 80s with a large reliance on synths and electronics. This shift was undoubtedly due to the producer brought into to oversee the project, Frank Farian. Hailing from Germany, Farian was the mastermind behind the 1970s group Boney M. Not only achieving great success in his native land, they also scored two UK No. 1 albums: 1978’s Nightflight to Venus and 1979’s Oceans of Fantasy. In addition, they had a No. 1 UK single with “Rivers of Babylon” (reaching a peak of No. 30 in the U.S.) and the U.K. top Christmas single in 1978: “”Mary’s Boy Child – Oh My Lord” (a cover of the Harry Belafonte song in a medley with a newly composed tune.) While not an issue for Farian when working with Meat Loaf, the members of Boney M who performed live were not all the same musicians and singers who recorded the songs for their albums. This did not generate controversy for the group at the time, but Farian’s practice would gain much more notoriety with his next major success as a producer later in the 1980s: Milli Vanilli.
The story continues after the jump!
As was the case on Bad Attitude, a multitude of writers were brought in for Blind Before I Stop. The only writer to have a credit on more than one song is, somewhat surprisingly, Meat Loaf himself. The LP blended new songs with covers such as “Burning Down” by Nazareth’s Billy Rankin, introduced on his 1983 album Growin’ Up Too Fast, and “Special Girl” by David Tyson and Eddie Schwartz which debuted on Schwartz’s 1984 record Public Life. (“Girl” was recorded later that year by America on their Perspective album). Despite this, Blind does not seem like a collection of unrelated songs due to the unified sound and production. Guests were also brought in to assist on the record including the King Crimson and Alan Parsons Project saxophonist Mel Collins (who plays on three songs) and John Parr of “St. Elmo’s Fire” fame. Parr wrote three songs for Bad Attitude and Meat Loaf asked him to return for this album and duet on “Rock ‘N’ Roll Mercenaries.”
Blind Before I Stop was released in September of 1986. Unfortunately, it achieved little movement on the charts and became Meat Loaf’s lowest-selling album to that date. Stalling at No. 28 on the U.K. albums, it failed to chart in the Hot 100 in the U.S. (where it was released on by Atlantic, not Arista). Four singles were released, with the highest charting being “Rock ‘N’ Roll Mercenaries” which peaked at No. 31 on the U.K. chart.
Hear No Evil’s new reissue follows the format of their previous Meat Loaf projects. The CD is housed in a digipak and features the original U.K. album artwork. The U.S. cover and images of various singles, together with period ads, adorn the digipak and 14-page full color booklet. This artwork featuring the singles, however, does point out some tracks which are not included on this release. Extended mixes were created at the time for “Rock ‘N’ Roll Mercenaries,” “Getting Away with Murder” and “Blind Before I Stop.” Also missing is the B-side “RPM.” This may be a licensing issue as the 2009 reissue of Blind Before I Stop from U.S. label Wounded Bird Records also lacked any extra tracks.
The liner notes are penned by Malcolm Dome and feature new interviews with Mel Collins, Billy Rankin and John Parr. The Parr interview is particularly illuminating as he sets the record straight regarding the supposed feud he had with Meat Loaf over his appearance at the concerts preserved on the Live at Wembley album. Blind Before I Stop has been newly remastered by Andy Pearce.
After Blind Before I Stop, Meat Loaf disappeared from recording for a time. He completed his record contract for Arista with Live at Wembley in 1987. Over the next seven years following Blind, only three new studio recordings appeared: “Hearts on Fire” featured on the soundtrack to the Julie Walters-Ian Charleson comedy Car Trouble, “Thrashin” for the Josh Brolin skateboarding film of the same name (its soundtrack has, alas, never been released on LP or CD) and the theme for the 1987 Special Olympics (performed with Queen’s Brian May): “A Time for Heroes.” As he had wanted to do with Blind, Meat Loaf was waiting for Jim Steinman before going ahead with another record. The vocalist’s instincts and patience would pay off as 1993’s multi-platinum worldwide smash Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell would prove. But if you want to discover what Meat Loaf was doing before that, Cherry Red’s reissue of Blind Before I Stop might be for you; despite lacking bonus material, it features the most deluxe physical presentation this sonically-adventurous album has yet seen on CD.
Hear No Evil’s Blind Before I Stop is available now, and can be ordered at the links below!
- Execution Day
- Rock ‘N’ Roll Mercenaries
- Getting Away with Murder
- One More Kiss (Night of the Soft Parade)
- Blind Before I Stop
- Burning Down
- Standing on the Outside
- Man and a Woman
- Special Girl
- Rock ‘N’ Roll Hero