BWW Album Review: BAT OUT OF HELL (Original Cast Recording) Features Killer Voices
No matter what you think of WE WILL ROCK YOU, there's another post-apocalyptic jukebox coming to theaters across the United States. Jim Steinman's Bat Out of Hell - The Musical, which won Best Musical at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2017 in London, kicks off a US national tour in Detroit this November. But, you don't have to wait for the show to tour to your neck of the woods or to hit Broadway to hear its score. Recently, Ghostlight Records released the rollicking Bat Out of Hell - The Musical Original Cast Recording, giving audiences the world over unprecedented access to the potentially epic musical.
Before we go further, I feel it is essential to mention that I have not seen this musical in performance, so I don't know how well these tunes fit into the context of the story being told on stage. And, I have a sneaking suspicion that favorites like "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," "Paradise By Dashboard Light," "You Took The Word Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)," "Dead Ringer For Love," "Bat out of Hell," and "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" probably elicit more joy from seeing them performed than simply listening to them on this album. Without the context of the musical or memories of the show itself, I find myself wondering why I'm not simply listening to the original recordings of this music.
With that out of the way, the thing that this album is filled with is vocal talent. Leading the cast, Andrew Polec sings Strat with verve and raw power. His opening monologue, "Love And Death And The American Guitar," is gripping and unnerving. Then he truly delights on "All Revved Up With No Place To Go / Wasted Youth," "Bat Out Of Hell," "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)," and others. As the female romantic lead, Christina Bennington brings tenderness and tenacity to tunes likes "Heaven Can Wait" and "It's All Coming Back To Me Now." Other standout moments on the album include Danielle Steers, with captivating charisma and spunk, leading the female ensemble on "Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)" and Dom Hartley-Harris heartfelt opening for "Objects In The Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are."
It's hard not to love this album for the fact that it is impossible not to bop along to as you listen to it, but it just doesn't capture the heart and imagination in that may that other musicals do. It's definitely fun (and sometimes even exciting) hearing new voices on these classic tunes, but these renditions all sound so close to the original iterations that it doesn't sound like they've been reorchestrated and set for a musical narrative. Ultimately, Jim Steinman's Bat Out of Hell - The Musical Original Cast Recording is fun to listen to, but it's not satisfying on anything other than the surface level.