Productions whose epic ambitions are so strained they blow out their tires. Small town dreams mythologized into orange colors across the sky. Yep — I could have referred to Bruce Springsteen. Before Bryan Ferry and David Bowie walked into my life out of my dreams, Jim Steinman wrote and arranged the meatball anthems that Bonnie Tyler and supreme muse Meat Loaf embodied, incarnated, and concretized. Karaoke exists because Jim Steinman wrote “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.” Brandon Flowers writes songs that are the equivalent of spangled Cuban heels thanks to Jim Steinman. I was not crazy about “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” because A/C-leaning top 40 radio in the early ’90s didn’t believe in programming that it couldn’t run through you with a drill press, but I appreciate the ambiguity of “that” (a finger up the asshole? eat peanut butter and Ritz crackers in bed?), an ambiguity Max Martin duly passed to young charges the Backstreet Boys six years later. And, as “Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back” demonstrated, Steinman remained a titan with titles.
Tyler’s “Total Eclipse” follow-up is my Steinman jam: sequencer-mad, aerobicized in its mission to find a he-man worth the piano runs, horns, sweat, and mung aimed at the audience.