A lot has happened since Meat Loaf appeared in Youngstown.

By John Benson

A lot has happened since Meat Loaf appeared in Youngstown.

Exactly 30 years after Meat Loaf emerged on the rock scene like a “Bat Out of Hell,” the Texas-born singer is still fighting for respect.

While back in the day the music press chalked up his 1977 release “Bat Out of Hell” as nothing more than over-the-top schlock rock, with the singer proving them wrong to the tune of multiplatinum sales, Meat Loaf’s current beef is with a U.K. reviewer who wasn’t too kind about a recent concert.

“First of all, I never sing off key,” said Meat Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday), calling from his Los Angeles home. “The thing that has irritated me to no end is, maybe my voice isn’t so good on one particular night, but I’ll guarantee you one damn thing, there has never been a show that’s lackluster.”

He quickly added, “So before this summer, I lost 35 pounds, worked out like a crazy man and went back to England to kick ass. And after my second show, my soundman said, ‘I haven’t heard you sing that good in 12 years.’”

It’s been more than 15 years since Youngstown was graced with Meat Loaf’s presence. That means his Thursday show at the Chevy Centre should be like going back in time. However, a lot has happened since the rocker’s last visit, including the latter two albums in the “Bat Out of Hell” trilogy.

While 1993’s “Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell” sold more than 5 million albums and featured No. 1 hit single “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” 2006’s “Bat Out of Hell: The Monster is Loose” failed to go platinum in the states.

“I felt pressure when we were doing ‘Bat III,’ only because I wanted [songwriter] Jim [Steinman] involved and he had health issues,” Meat Loaf said. “And I didn’t know when he was going to be healthy enough to do anything. The record company said they wanted their record by a certain date, and I said we have to wait. They said they weren’t going to wait. So it just goes around like that.”

More to come

Up next for Meat Loaf is an album produced by Rob Cavallo (Dave Matthews Band, Green Day, Kid Rock, Fleetwood Mac) that is completely written but not due out until 2010. In the meantime, the 61-year-old artist is content keeping busy in the form of his “Casa De Carne Tour,” which features singing partner Patti Russo.

Meat Loaf said fans can expect to rock with a show that will cherry pick tunes from his three-decade career, as well as feature a few surprise covers. In talking to Meat Loaf, there seems to be a renewed sense of energy and commitment to his career.

Maybe it’s because the “Bat Out of Hell” trilogy is finally behind him. Maybe it’s because he feels vindicated regarding the British critic’s negative review. Or maybe it’s just because he’s looking forward to a bright future.

“I’m down to my lowest weight since I was like 10 years old,” Meat Loaf said. “And before the next tour, I’m going to lose another 30 pounds. So I’m only going to get meaner and leaner. I’ll be Slim Jim by then.”

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