THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Reviewing music is a strange situation. Music can be well executed and loved by millions, but if it doesn't touch the reviewer
it can cause a quandary. I happen to find Meat Loaf insufferably boring and disingenuous, but his bombastic epics are so
popular that I know I'm in the minority (It reminds me of a Denis Leary joke where he asks various members of the
audience if they've bought the new Madonna album and, when they all inevitably say "no" he responds "Well, someone's
buying the fucking thing!")
Regardless of my own personal preferences, Meat Loaf: VH1 Storytellers is a very well executed DVD.
Storytellers provides the artist with a small audience, an intimate setting, and an opportunity to answer questions
and tell stories in a way that can never be done at a real concert. In that respect Meat Loaf rises to the challenge, joking
around and giving insight into his bizarre career - although he doesn't mention the decade long slump that followed his 1978
hit album Bat Out of Hell and he does at times resemble William Shatner in those Priceline commercials. Sometimes
he kids around a little too much: Several times he cracks wise during songs, killing the mood or the pace that the band is
trying to create and, in one unbelievably icky moment, he forces two strangers from the audience to act out the sexual
hijinks described in "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." Ewww!
Still, fans of Meat Loaf will definitely enjoy this unusual look at the musician. This forum could provide a more candid look
at more honest musicians, but Meat Loaf shows himself to be pretty shallow. He brags about his record sales as a measure
of how good he is and he didn't write any of the songs he sings. Jim Steinman's grammatically questionable lyrics have caused a
good deal of head scratching and Meat Loaf acknowledges this before the particularly nonsensical "I'd Do Anything For Love
(But I Won't Do That)" by pulling out a chalkboard and trying to explain what the "that" in the lyrics is, but to no avail. The
song makes no sense and people already either like it or they don't. He's not going to convince anyone otherwise.
To a non-enthusiast, most of the songs sound the same, perhaps a testament to the consistency of Steinman, who wrote all
the songs but one, which he co-wrote with the dreaded Andrew-Lloyd Webber. There aren't many musical surprises, but
the band is tight and the songs are played with energy. Even though Meat Loaf sits down for most of the show he is clearly
working, sometimes struggling with the more vocally demanding numbers, but always with the emphasis on
All Revved Up With No Place to Go
Two Out of Three Ain't Bad
A Kiss is a Terrible Thing to Waste
You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)
Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through
More Than You Deserve
Heaven Can Wait
Paradise by the Dashboard Light
Bat Out of Hell
The video quality is fine, full-frame video. The whole show is lit with an amber-golden tint and it works well. The picture is
crisp and clear.
The audio is available both in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. The 2.0 is pretty weak, but the 5.1 has some kick. The bass sounds
The 90 minute disc features nearly an hour more footage than the broadcast version, so that's pretty good. Additionally
there are bios, liner notes, and lyrics.
As I said, I'm no Meat-Head and, unless he's wearing bitch tits in Fight Club, I don't even wanna see him. However,
this disc is well made and strongly recommended for fans of the music.
Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.
E-mail Gil at firstname.lastname@example.org