Due to my own stupidity and lack of foresight, many years ago I sold a fine hi-fi system in favour of not having anything at all to play music on so convinced was I that in the brave new world of MP3 we would not require a stack of amplifiers and media playing technology we would only need a computer and maybe a small device that held your complete record collection and would slip into a shirt pocket, and in doing so I instantly made my impressive collection of LP’s completely redundant.
So they remain to this day safely packed away in plastic storage boxes and stuffed into the corner of the loft in this here house surviving three house moves at which point the wife always asks, “Do you really need those…” and I always remind her that the terms of the exclusion order specifically state that she is not to be let within ten yards of my album collection after what she did to my singles collection in 1983.
The routine was quite well established in October 1977, there I was, 21 years of age, a bonus surveyor for a large electrical contractor in Leeds, problem was, they weren’t in Leeds anymore, that is, they had been in Leeds when I’d taken the job four years earlier, in fact they were within walking distance of my home when I’d taken the job four years earlier, a long walk admittedly but I often walked it to save the bus fare, this was Yorkshire after all.
And then in June of ’77 my boss in Leeds had asked me if I would help him out and go to our Newcastle office for two weeks, we had just opened the office there and they were inundated with new contracts which all needed setting up, the Newcastle manager was advertising for a surveyor but would I help them both out and fill in for two weeks – they paid my hotel expenses and so I accepted without a second thought, this was Yorkshire after all.
During my second week in Newcastle I was called into the office and given the news that the Leeds office had been closed and all 70+ staff paid off, just like that, you could do that in the 1970s. “What about me?” I had asked the Newcastle manager, “They haven’t mentioned you” is what he replied and so it was agreed that for so long as our head office continued to pay my hotel bills and pay for the petrol on my Leeds-based company van, in other words for as long as it took for them to realise that they hadn’t actually paid off ALL of the Leeds staff, then I would continue traveling up to Newcastle and living in a hotel for five days a week, in the event it took them six years to realise that I was still on the payroll.
So the routine was that I’d drive home to Leeds on the Friday evening, walk in the door of my parents house, dump my laundry, scoff whatever tea me mother had made, and then go to the pub, in recompense it was my task to take our mother to Asda every Saturday afternoon for her to do the thing that women call “shopping” while I pushed the trolley around being completely bored, mainly because my dad wouldn’t do it by choice and it freed him up to go to the golf club, how very middle class.
And it was in that very Asda one Saturday afternoon that I espied a new LP in their limited music department (one rack of chart LP’s only) and it was by means of the album cover that I espied it, it was yet another purchase of mine that was made purely on esthetics, I had not one clue of the musical content but the sleeve was rather nice, so I bought it, oh what carefree days of abandon, the luxury of buying something because you liked the look of it and not because you needed it, or even because some dependent of yours needed it.
And it turned out to be quite a wise investment for it turned out to be one of those LP’s where you like every tune on it, a very rare occurrence for me as it happened and it was therefore committed to a C60 tape in very swift time and the tape joined all the other cassette tapes in the van and became a staple on the two hour journey back and forth to Newcastle at the start and end of every working week.
Bat Out of Hell is another of those LP’s that live in the loft that were hardly played in their vinyl state for most of my music listening was done in a vehicle of some description for as well as driving the A1 until I could fall asleep and still know every twist and turn by heart, my work also took me far and wide across the North East and a Ford Escort van with a pair of custom fitted hi-fi speakers in the back becomes a veritable concert hall on wheels, a very echoey concert hall on wheels when the volume is turned up to full and beyond it has to be said.
Leaving Newcastle at 5pm on a dark winters night and negotiating either the Tyne Bridge or the Tyne Tunnel is still my definition of release at the end of a working week, a time when work was over, a long weekend stretched in front of you as did the A1, a two hour drive with the accelerator pressed to the floor, the engine screaming, the whole van rattling and bouncing around and Bat Out of Hell at full volume plus one more notch, I’d get out at the other end with my ears ringing for hours afterwards and very little voice left, sore vocal chords that needed soothing with beer, hence the dash in the house, dump your laundry, grab some food and out the door, some nights I didn’t even say Hello.
And so to this ditty, how could you review the album and not mention this one, “…waiting for the end of time to hurry up and arrive, for if I have to spend another minute with you I don’t think that I can really survive…” classic Jim Steinman, classic album.