Why did it take so many tries to figure out the magic recipe for serving up Meat Loaf again? The all-telling cover art provides us with the necessary clues! Note: Every ignored follow-up is missing the three essential ingredients, in tandem: a muscle-bound boy, his bike and that darned bat!

Bad for Good (Jim Steinman) (1981)
Not since Pete Best's Best of the Beatles has there been a more misleading album cover. Steinman's name appears dead center in the same font as the Meat Loaf logo, the better to fool the few nearsighted and brain-dead Meat Loaf fans who bought into this charade. Not even the clever substitution of Bad for Bat in the title and our Aryan cover star trading in his wheels for wings could stifle the cries of "Where's the bat?"

Dead Ringer (1981)
The Meat Loaf logo returns, at three times its regulation size, to better fill up space left by the withdrawn "Songs by Jim Steinman" credit. Blondie gets his trusty bike back, and, for all his troubles, he's accrued three groupies. He's not even in a rock band, yet he has the same number of nymphettes that each member of Kiss winds up with on that band's Love Gun cover, if you divide up all the gals by four! Still, people complained about missing the bat!

Bad Attitude (1985)
Oh, what a tangled web! The second of the Bat Out of Hell sound-alike titles has the prodigal motorcycle returning, but now Hercules is gone, replaced by some gum-poppin' slut. She's got a snake coiled around her, but it is, alas, the wrong animal! After this, three ill-advised albums were released with Meat's mug plastered on the front covers, one which wasn't even released in the U.S. Bring back the phony Frank Frazetta artwork, and hurry!

Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell (1993)
Meat finally gets wise, and the bat returns. Note how much Loaf has grown in stature during his absence, with muscle boy and his bike now diminished, and humbler. There's a woman, as well, but hindsight reveals that women, winged or otherwise, were never part of the lucky formula that induces people to buy Meat Loaf albums. Scoff if you like, but remember--when they took the pyramids off Camel cigarette packs, sales plummeted!


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