Spotlight Album Review #22

Reviewed on this page:

The late actor and singer known as Meat Loaf (who began life as Marvin Aday in 1947) will always be best remembered 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 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 touches of Gospel ("(I'd Love To Be) As Heavy As Jesus") and blues ("Lady Be Mine"). Many of the songs come across like showtunes, 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: Some of these tracks later turned up on Motown various artists compilations. "(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" were included on the box set The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 11A: 1971, and "It Takes All Kinds of People" was 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 several years later, 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. This calculated bastardization of the Stoney and Meatloaf album is best ignored.

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


In 2022, the Stoney and Meatloaf album finally received a proper CD reissue, as part of a 2-CD set titled Everything Under The Sun: The Motown Recordings. (Sadly, Meat Loaf passed away after work had begun on this reissue, which was released five months after his death). The first disc contained the 10 original album tracks, along with the single mixes for four tracks (including the non-album B-side "The Way You Do The Things You Do", and a more effective mix of "It Takes All Kinds Of People").

The second disc contains 14 bonus tracks. The first eight of these tracks were solo Stoney recordings from 1972, two of which ("Let Me Come Down Easy" and "It's Always Me") were issued on a 1973 single (Motown M 1248F), while the other six were previously unreleased. The songs are professionally written and produced Detroit soul numbers, with backing by a crack team of session musicians (including Joe Sample, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Carol Kaye, and Ray Parker, Jr.). We'll never know if these tracks would have given Murphy the type of Top 40 stardom that Motown apparently had in mind for her, but it is good to finally be able to (sort of) hear the '70's Stoney solo album that never materialized. Her singing is reliably soulful, making a notably stronger impression on the more uptempo numbers ("Let Me Come Down Easy" and a solo re-recording of "Sunshine (Where's Heaven)") than on the more somber ballads ("It's Always Me" and "Stone Liberty", the latter of which was recorded by Diana Ross the same year with the same instrumental track, with better results). Her rendition of "Carry Me" is preferable to duet versions recorded by other r&b artists, and her version of "Touch And Go" holds its own against versions by Cher and Al Wilson. Although I've always resisted the temptation to compare Stoney to Janis Joplin, I am now forced to do so by the inclusion of "A Woman Left Lonely", which was also recorded by Joplin on her legendary Pearl album. Stoney didn't belt out the song with the same passion as Janis did; instead, she gave it a more understated sense of vulnerability, making it a respectable rendition.

This second disc also contained new 2022 mixes of six tracks, three of which had been outtakes included on the revamped 1978 album. Those three songs are supposedly presented here the way they were originally intended. One thing is for sure: Stoney is heard loud and clear in these mixes, where the 1978 mixes left her out. She appropriately becomes Meat's duet partner instead of a backup singer on "Everything Under The Sun", and her vocals which were entirely absent on "Stone Heart" and Edwin Starr's "Who Is The Leader Of The People" are fully integrated into these polished mixes. Meat is still the star of "Jimmy Bell", the new mix of which brings the song's sound out of the '70's. "The Way You Do The Things You Do" and a longer edit of "It Takes All Kinds Of People" also receive a more updated production sound.

Living up to its title, Everything Under The Sun finally gives us everything we wanted and more from a Stoney and Meatloaf reissue.

Track Listing:


Stoney & Meatloaf original LP:

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

The Single Mixes:

11. What You See Is What You Get
12. Lady Be Mine
13. It Takes All Kinds Of People
14. The Way You Do The Things You Do


Stoney solo:

1. Let Me Come Down Easy
2. It's Always Me
3. Carry Me
4. A Woman Left Lonely
5. Mo Jo Hannah
6. Stone Liberty
7. Sunshine (Where's Heaven)
8. Touch And Go

More Stoney & Meatloaf (previously unreleased 2022 mixes):

9. The Way You Do The Things You Do
10. Everything Under The Sun
11. Stone Heart
12. Who Is The Leader Of The People
13. Jimmy Bell
14. It Takes All Kinds Of People

See also "Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose" (2006)


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)