Meat Loaf released his seventh album, Welcome to the Neighborhood, on November 14, 1995. It was the follow-up album to Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, so there were high expectations going into this album. Looking at the writing credits, it’s notable that Jim Steinman only wrote two of the twelve songs that appear on Welcome to the Neighborhood, after having been such a crucial part of the previous album.
The album opens with “Where the Rubber Meets the Road,” which was written by Sarah Durkee and Paul Jacobs. It opens with a quiet piano, with Meat Loaf singing softly; however, the tempo quickly changes, and the guitar and percussion come in, changing the song into more of a sound a listener would expect from Meat Loaf. It’s decent for a song to open an album. However, to me, it’s a little on the weak side for what I would expect from Meat Loaf.
Next is “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth),” which was written by Diane Warren. This song, which was released as the lead-off single for Welcome to the Neighborhood, is a duet with Patti Russo. The single peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and it’s one of my favorite songs on the album. Next on the album is “Original Sin,” which was written by Jim Steinman. This opens with a heavier guitar riff than anything heard on the previous two songs. Then, the guitar disappears, leaving just piano and Meat Loaf’s vocals, and then the heavy guitar returns in full force. It definitely has the trademark Jim Steinman sound to it.
The next song is called “45 Seconds of Ecstasy”; however, it’s a minute and six seconds in length. It features vocals by Susan Wood, and Meat Loaf doesn’t appear anywhere on it. This is followed by “Runnin’ for the Red Light (I Gotta Life),” which was written by Sarah Durkee, Meat Loaf, Patti Russo, Harry Vanda, and George Young. It’s a very uptempo rock song, and makes for a very awkward transition from the previous song. This was released as a single from Welcome to the Neighborhood; while it’s closer in sound to what one would expect to hear from Meat Loaf, I can hear why this single didn’t perform very well on the charts.
Next is “Fiesta de las Almas Perdidas,” which is one minute and twenty-seven seconds in length. It’s an instrumental with a Spanish feel to it. I can understand why this piece was included, because it does help the transition between the previous song and the next song. This is followed by “Left in the Dark,” which is the other song written by Jim Steinman. It starts with Meat Loaf accompanied by a piano. While instrumentation is added, it doesn’t turn into a full-out rock song like “Original Sin.” This is another song that definitely has the Jim Steinman hallmarks to it.
The next song is “Not a Dry Eye in the House,” which was written by Diane Warren. It was released as the second single from Welcome to the Neighborhood. Like “Left in the Dark,” it opens with Meat Loaf being accompanied by a piano. Then, other instruments join in, but the song stays as a slow ballad. While it’s not as strong of a song as “Left in the Dark,” it’s still a solid pop song. It’s a little surprising that this song didn’t perform better on the charts.
“Amnesty Is Granted” was written by Sammy Hagar, and was performed as a duet between Meat Loaf and Sammy Hagar. It’s a much more rocking number, and it really picks the tempo of the album back up. After the opening, the song does slow down a little bit, and a keyboard can be heard. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not as strong as some of Meat Loaf’s other songs in his catalog. “If This is the Last Kiss (Let’s Make it Last All Night)” was written by Diane Warren, and it’s another duet with Patti Russo. It’s a midtempo song that sounds like it was tailored for AOR radio. It’s a decent song, but I think that “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” is a little stronger.
Next on the album is “Martha,” a song written by Tom Waits. It opens with a piano and strings accompanying Meat Loaf’s vocals. This song definitely slows the tempo of the album back down again, and musically, it’s one of the simpler songs on the album. Welcome to the Neighborhood closes with “Where Angels Sing,” which was written by Stephen Allen Davis. This one also opens with minimal instrumentation to accompany Meat Loaf’s vocals. It’s another slower song, but it has the perfect sound to be a song to close an album.
While Welcome to the Neighborhood isn’t necessarily a bad album, I don’t believe this to be one of Meat Loaf’s stronger works. While some of the individual songs on the album are enjoyable, I feel that the album as a whole doesn’t have much cohesion to it. I think that, ultimately, there were too many people involved with both the writing and producing aspects of the album, which made it more difficult to make everyone’s contributions work well together. Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II are both very cohesive albums; however, Welcome to the Neighborhood just doesn’t have this same quality. And in the end, I believe this is why Welcome to the Neighborhood ended up not performing as well as its predecessor, Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell.
I wrote this review after listening to a copy of Welcome to the Neighborhood that I purchased.