Meat Loaf Unveils Cool New Album
Meat Loaf has tapped an array of special guests for his new album, Hang Cool Teddy Bear – and Classic Rock has heard it.
Brian May, Steve Vai, Justin Hawkins and Jack Black are among those set to appear on the unusually titled disc, based on a short story of the same name by Killian Kerwin, a long-time friend of the singer.
Meat held a listening party in London yesterday (February 26), at which he spilled the beans on the album, which is due to be released in April through Mercury Records.
“I found the title in a Russ Meyer movie called Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls,” he explained. “It’s something you’ll love or hate but you walk past a poster saying Hang Cool Teddy Bear and I can guarantee you’ll stop for three or four seconds. I have your attention.”
Though retaining all of Meat Loaf’s traditional excesses, the album adds a modern-sounding twist. Overall, it’s a really strong rock record with lots of hummable hooks, though quality-wise it’s guilty of tailing off a little towards the end. Meat believes that working with Green Day/Goo Goo Dolls/Fleetwood Mac/Paramore producer Rob Cavallo was pivotal to its quality.
“I’ve been doing this for 43 years, and Rob Cavallo is the best producer in the world,” states Meat. “If you disagree, I’ll take you outside. I knew I was making the most important record of my life and Rob gave me my voice. It’s a Meat Loaf record, but it sounds different and new. It’s fresh.”
Despite the above statement, Hang Cool Teddy Bear was not created easily. “Rob told me: ‘You’ve got 23 songs – three are great, the rest of them suck’. I had a panic attack.”
The album’s opening track, Peace On Earth, sets up its central theme. “It’s the story of a soldier. He’s been in an unspecified battle, and he’s lying face down on the ground,” reveals Meat. “They talk of seeing your life flash backwards when you’re about to die, but this guy’s life flashes forwards instead. He can’t get up. He tries to crawl and he’s unable to do that, too. The songs are about the different scenarios he finds himself in as his life goes by. At the conclusion… well, let’s just say it’s not a Hollywood ending.”
Brian May and Steve Vai can be heard on Love Is Not Real and Song Of Madness, while Jack Black duets with Meat Loaf on Like A Rose. Justin Hawkins wrote two of the album’s songs, the aforementioned Love Is Not Real, plus California Isn’t Big Enough, also adding background vocals and guitar to former. But the most unusual cameo is from former Blackadder/Jeeves And Wooster comedian Hugh Laurie, now a star of the US TV series House, who contributes a piano solo to the song ‘f I Can’t Have You. Meat encountered Laurie, a classically trained musician, whilst making an appearance in House.
“He was really nervous at first,” says the singer. “It was strange seeing someone so confident on TV walk into the studio like he’s a quivering mess. But he nailed it.”
The album’s final song, Elvis In Vegas was written by Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child and Billy Falcon. “Jon doesn’t know this yet, but I changed his lyrics to make them fit the concept,” Loaf told the gathering. “I don’t know what Jon’ll say about that but I’ve known him since 1980, so he’ll probably be okay with it.”
The album’s full listing is as follows:
Peace On Earth (with strings arranged and conducted by Dave Campbell)
Living On The Outside
If I Can’t Have You (duet with American Idol presenter Kara Dioguardi, Hugh Laurie on piano)
Love Is Not Real (featuring Brian May and Steve Vai, Justin Hawkins on backing vocals and guitar)
Like A Rose’(duet with Jack Black)
Song Of Madness (featuring Brian May and Steve Vai)
Did You Ever Love Somebody
California Isn’t Big Enough
Running Away From Me
Let’s Be In Love (duet with Patti Russo)
If It Rains
Elvis In Vegas
Tags: Billy Falcon, Brian May, Dave Campbell, Desmond Child, Fleetwood Mac, Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, Hugh Laurie, Jack Black Killian Kerwin, Jon Bon Jovi, Kara Dioguardi, Meat Loaf, Paramore, Patti Russo, Rob Cavallo, Russ Meyer, Steve Vai