Hell In A Hand Basket
So the meat man decided Hell In A Hand Basket would employ the full talents of his band the Neverland Express. And a smart move it was. This record is what Meatloaf describes as "the most personal record I've ever made. It's about how I feel the world's gone to hell in a hand basket. It's really the first record that I've ever put out about how I feel about life and how I feel about what's going on at the moment."
Beginning with some lush vocals on "All Of Me," we get that Meat sound we know so well, featuring vocalist Patti Russo and guitarist Randy Flowers, along with the solid drumming of John Miceli and tinkling piano droplets from Justin Avery. "Fall From Grace" sees the singer employing his lower vocal range, which he does often to good effect. The backing vocals inch this one up from just an everyday ditty.
"Mad Mad World/The Good God Is A Woman And She Don't Like Ugly" sees Mr. Loaf singing lower again with a nice funky bass from Danny Muranda. The lyric here is nothing Loaf hasn't covered before, but Chuck D's rapping in the middle is kind of fun. "Live or Die" has Paul Crook, Loaf's onstage musical conductor who also produced this CD, noodling on his acoustic guitar and the band is in big form with some excellent backing vocals.
There is a unfortunate version of "California Dreamin'" - unfortunate in that it isn't giving us anything new except a nice sax solo from Dave Luther. "Another Day" is another story though - a great tune about a mature subject matter with Loaf sounding about the best he can. This stands up to any Meat Loaf classic. "Our Love and Our Souls" sees Loaf and his female vocal foil Patti Russo in fine form, and features guest turns from Mark McGrath, John Rick and Lil Jon. This is a good full band mover with Avery shining on the keys. As a sucker for the Bat Out Of Hell oeuvre, I think Hell In A Hand Basket is a decent release - maybe a tad inconsistent overall, but the singer sounds good and the musicians are on their game.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.