Hang Cool Teddy Bear

Meat Loaf

Mercury, 2010

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


During a recent promo tour Down Under to promote his eleventh studio album, Hang Cool Teddy Bear, Mr. Loaf spent most of his time dumping on album number ten (Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose) because apparently he didn’t want to do it, but the record company forced him to and now he hates both the record and the company. Sure, there were some decent songs on it, but it wasn’t great, so maybe he has a point. Having said that, if he thinks this album is any better, then he’s delusional because it ain’t. As with any Loaf release, there is a concept, and as with most Loaf albums, it’s a bloody confusing one. 

This is kind of like those old “choose your adventure” novels that I used to love as a kid.  Skipping tracks takes you to your favorite adventures, and you never have to hear the bad ones.  That is, you see, because each of these tracks offers a different outcome for the fictional character at the center of the plot, who is a soldier that has been injured and is now dreaming about his future. Problem is, over the course of thirteen songs and 65 minutes, I just don’t care anymore.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Too many scenarios and not enough carefree rock and I’m done with this one after only a few plays. Loaf is a guy who never takes himself too seriously, and that is one of the elements I’ve always loved in his best work (Bat and Bat 2) is the way he celebrates just that with black humor, laugh-out-loud lyrics, and huge, beefy arrangements tailor-made for his larger than life persona. 

This is all missing though from HCTB. Sure, there are massive hooks and bombastic rockers (“Peace On Earth” and “Los Angeloser”), but there’s also something generic about them and they don’t hold a candle to his best work or even his underrated rockers from the Welcome To The Neighborhood set from 1995. Overblown love song “If I Can’t Have You” is more of the same mundane pop-rock, and the Jon Bon Jovi/Desmond Child-penned “Elvis In Vegas” is just plain stupid. When was the last time JBJ wrote a good tune, anyway? 

A couple of positives are notable, though. “Song Of Madness” rocks, mainly because of Steve Vai’s awesome guitar work. “Let’s Be In Love” is a beautiful, melodic love song that features Loaf’s longtime main-squeeze (only onstage, however), Patti Russo. Anyone who has seen a Meat Loaf gig post-1993 will be familiar with Ms. Russo, who possesses one of the great rock voices. Just how come this woman has never scored a recording deal is beyond me; she kills it every time, and this song is no exception. 

“Like A Rose” and “If It Rains” are just decent rock songs that I’m neither here nor there about.  Cock-rocker Justin Hawkins wrote “California Isn’t Big Enough (Hey There Girl)” for the album, and hearing Meat sing the corker “I can barely fit my dick in my pants / California isn’t big enough for me” is just cringe-worthy, to say the least. 

In the words of Meat Loaf, he will never record another album without Rob Cavallo producing it because Mr. Loaf honestly thinks this is one of the best albums he has ever recorded. Next time, I just hope they can tap into some of that old magic and come up with an idea that has a stronger life-force that this one.

Rating: C-

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