Label: Sony Music 2011
Review by Alan Holloway
Incredibly, this is only the 12th studio album for Meat Loaf, a figure that becomes even more odd when you consider he has had 16 compilations made from his work. Unlike some artists with his longevity, his albums have been consistently successful, with his reliance on a certain Jim Steinman slightly exaggerated by some. Whilst the last album, “Hang Cool Teddy Bear” received a glut of positive reviews, album number twelve arrives barely a year later more mediocre than meteorite.
Whilst Meat’s live performances have received heavy criticism, he can still cut it in the studio and sounds pretty good here. Some of the songs work really well, such as the John Mellencamp-like “Live Or Die”, his collaboration with fellow ‘Apprentice’ contestants “Stand In The Storm” and the upbeat “Party Of One.” Interestingly, Lil Jon has a very well placed rap part in “Stand In The Storm” that works well, whilst Chuck D is totally out of place on the otherwise good “Mad Mad World”. Rap and rock is an exact science, and sometimes an experiment goes awry. There’s two great duets with Patti Russo (a staple guest for Meat since the 90s), “Our Love & Our Souls”, and a rather spiffy version of “California Dreamin” that works against the odds.
“Hell In A Handbasket” is, on the whole, a reasonably laid back album by Meat Loaf standards, although there’s still a fair few rockers. The biggest problem is that nothing much sticks in your head, and as a result the album drags it’s feet in the mud rather than flying, fifty minutes seeming more like ninety. I still personally admire Meat Loaf for his career and staying power, but this is one that made me wish for Steinman’s return to the fold, although it still has some rather nice high points.