RAREBIRD'S

Spotlight Album Review #22

Reviewed on this page:

The actor and singer known as Meat Loaf (who began life as Marvin Aday in 1947) will always be best known for his 1977 album Bat Out Of Hell, a melodramatic mixture of Springsteen and Spector stylings which incredibly became one of the best-selling albums of all time. Another major claim to fame for Meat Loaf is his bit part in the 1975 cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But few people are aware of an album which Meat Loaf recorded in 1971, years before he worked with Jim Steinman or Jim Sharman. At that time, the big guy was one-half of a duo called Stoney and Meatloaf (Meat's name was then spelled without a space). Stoney was the stage name for a singer/actress named Shaun Murphy. The two of them were discovered while co-starring in a Detroit production of the hippie musical Hair. Stoney and Meatloaf parted ways after their album failed commercially. Although Murphy never achieved anything close to the level of fame that Meat Loaf has, she did continue to work in the business as a back-up singer for Bob Seger and Eric Clapton, and eventually became a full-time lead singer for Little Feat from 1993 to 2009.

 

 

The original 1971 issue (accept no substitutes) of the self-titled album Stoney and Meatloaf was released on a label called Rare Earth, a subsidiary of Motown. It mainly consists of blue-eyed soul duets, with hints of gospel ("(I'd Love To Be) As Heavy As Jesus") and blues ("Lady Be Mine"). Many of the songs have a showtunes feel, which is not surprising considering the job which the two singers previously held. The songs were mostly written by Motown employees; strings and horns often figure prominently. Both of the singers have impressive pipes. Murphy's voice has a slightly gritty soulfulness. Meat Loaf sounds a bit hammy at times, but not nearly as much as he did on his later, better-known work. The pair had good chemistry; it's particularly impressive to hear both of them display their vocal abilities on "She Waits By The Window" and "What You See Is What You Get". But two of the album's high points are the songs that each singer sang without the other. Stoney confidently struts through Ike and Tina Turner's "Game of Love", and Meat sounds unusually earthy and hard-hitting on his cover of the Cat Iron blues song "Jimmy Bell". Stoney and Meatloaf is a professionally entertaining album from two stage-trained entertainers.

Note: The album has never been released on CD, but a few tracks have turned up on Motown various artists collections. "(I'd Love To Be) As Heavy As Jesus" was included on a 1995 CD called The Key To The Kingdom. "What You See Is What You Get" and "Lady Be Mine" are included on the box set The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 11A: 1971, and "It Takes All Kinds of People" is included on The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 11B: 1971. The latter box set also included a non-LP B-side: a cover of the Temptations' 1964 hit "The Way You Do The Things You Do".

Track Listing:

1. (I'd Love To Be) As Heavy As Jesus
2. She Waits By The Window
3. It Takes All Kinds Of People
4. Game of Love
5. Kiss Me Again
6. What You See Is What You Get
7. Sunshine (Where's Heaven)
8. Jimmy Bell
9. Lady Be Mine
10. Jessica White



 


When Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell album became a raging success in 1977, the folks at Motown naturally wanted to re-release the Stoney and Meatloaf album to cash in on the phenomenon. A simple and proper reissue of the original album would have been justified, but the Prodigal label (another Motown subsidiary) took a more exploitative approach when they issued the revamped 1978 version titled Meat Loaf featuring Stoney & Meatloaf. (Say what? Meat Loaf featuring Meatloaf?). This version of the album was designed to sound more like a Meat Loaf solo album than a duets album. Six of the original ten songs appear (including a longer, heavier version of "Jimmy Bell"), but some of the songs seem to be remixed to deemphasize Stoney's vocals; on "Kiss Me Again", she is mixed out almost completely! Four of the original album's better tracks -- including the Stoney-only "Game of Love" -- are unwisely omitted. In their place are three inferior outtakes, all of which are dominated by Meat Loaf. "Stone Heart" is a merely passable ballad. Stoney's absence is conspicuous on "Who Is the Leader of the People"; it sounds as though there are gaps where her vocals were meant to be. Stoney can be heard on the closing track "Everything Under The Sun", but she's made to sound like a distant back-up singer. Murphy's reduced presence causes the album to lose much of its flavor. If the Stoney and Meatloaf album is ever reissued in the future, let's hope it comes in the form of the 1971 original instead of Prodigal's calculated bastardization.

Note: This same version of the album was issued again in 1986 by the Tamla label (Tamla Motown ZL 72217).

Track Listing:

1. Jimmy Bell
2. She Waits By The Window
3. Stone Heart
4. Who Is the Leader of the People
5. Kiss Me Again
6. Sunshine (Where's Heaven)
7. Jessica White
8. Lady Be Mine
9. Everything Under The Sun

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Other Spotlight Album Reviews:

#1: Sigur Ros - "Von" (1997)

#2: Various Artists - "Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea" (1981)

#3: Gerry Goffin - "It Ain't Exactly Entertainment" (1973)

#4: Graces - "Perfect View" (1989)

#5: Genesis - "Calling All Stations" (1997)

#6: hindu love gods (1990)

#7: Various Artists - "Message To Love: The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970" (1996)

#8: Distractions - "Nobody's Perfect" (1980)

#9: Deconstruction (1994)

#10: Juicy Groove - "First Taste" (1978)

#11: Emmylou Harris - "Gliding Bird" (1969)

#12: Various Artists - "Beyond The Wildwood: A Tribute To Syd Barrett" (1987)

#13: Candy - "Whatever Happened To Fun..." (1985)

#14: RTZ - "Return To Zero" (1991)

#15: Klark Kent - "Kollected Works" (1995)

#16: Various Artists - "Rainy Day" (1984)

#17: Alex Chilton - "1970" (1996)

#18: Feist - "Monarch Lay Your Jewelled Head Down" (1999)

#19: Attila (1970)

#20: Slipknot - "Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat." (1996)

#21: Eyes Adrift (2002)

#23: Elliott Murphy - "Aquashow" (1973)

#24: Evanescence - "Origin" (2000)