Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Pandora's Box, Jim Steinman|
Genres: Pop, Rock
Pandora's Box, Essentially a Jim Steinman Project, Released this Title in 1989. Steinman is Probably Best Known for his Cowriting Work with Meatloaf (1978's 'Bat Out of Hell') & also Penning Bonnie Tyler's 1983 Hit 'Total ... more »
Pandora's Box, Essentially a Jim Steinman Project, Released this Title in 1989. Steinman is Probably Best Known for his Cowriting Work with Meatloaf (1978's 'Bat Out of Hell') & also Penning Bonnie Tyler's 1983 Hit 'Total Eclipse of the Heart'. 'Original Sin' features Arranging & Back-Up Vocal Work by Todd Rundgren. Features 'It's all Coming Back to Me Now' (Covered by Celine Dion in 1996), 'Safe Sex', 'The Future Ain't What it Used to Be' & Eleven Others.
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For Jimmy, There's No Such Thing as Too Much!
Randy Gibson | 10/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jim Steinman is truly one of those people who can only be described as a mad genius. He has several insanity-tinged gifts as a composer. First of all, he thinks operatically - where every love story, every tragedy, every simple situation is bigger, larger, and completely over the top. He also has a bizarre gift for latching onto a well-used idiom and extending it into a fantasy world where Tosca and Verdi would find themselves hard-pressed to keep up. The composer who conceived of the teen-sex melodrama that was 'Bat Out of Hell' and found the one and only Meat Loaf to sing it is back here with some familiar names and some new ones putting together the same formula with the usual tongue-in-cheek, hyperbole-riddled results.
The artist named here - Pandora's Box - consists of Steinman and a small harem of powerful female vocalists including Ellen Foley of BOOH fame and Elaine Caswell who has backed some of the biggest names of contemporary music. The tracks here are arranged with the help of Todd Rundgren and the band includes E-Street and Bat veteran, Roy Bittan, on the piano. So there is a familiar, melodramatic feel to all of this. The original Steinman compositions contain his usual over-stuffed lyric lines that ooze life-or-death angst no matter what the subject really is.
The song features a number of Stienman pieces and a few covers and orchestral arrangements. First, the Steinman stuff:
After a spoken introduction by Foley, the album opens with 'Original Sin' featuring Gina Taylor. The song, which has since been covered by Taylor Dayne for 'The Shadow' is a thunderous orchestral opener and one of the album's best tracks. 'Safe Sex' is lyrically the kind of clever wordplay you expect from Steinman, but in this case it takes the form of a rock power ballad sung by Gina Taylor. Steinman's 'Good Girls Go to Heaven' is recycled here from earlier Meat Loaf recordings, this time sung by Holly Sherwood. Probably the highlight of the album, in my estimation, is Elaine Caswell's scorching rendition of 'It's All Coming Back to Me Now.' Most of the world knows this as a Celine Dion torch ballad. The real truth is that this song is a typically twisted piece of Steimanic fantasy and Elaine Caswell really captures the true atmosphere of this slightly demented song. Caswell is also featured on 'It Just Won't Quit' which is another of Steinman's pieces he recycles from Bat II. The album concludes with Gina Taylor on 'The Future Ain't What it Used to Be' which was later pulled in for Meat Loaf's Bat III.
The covers are certainly a bit unconventional. The first is an Ellen Foley cover of the Doors' classic '20th Century Fox' over a late-80s style techno synthesizer bed with occasional guitar distortion. Then there's another Foley cover of the Burt Bacharach tune 'My Little Black Book' done here as 'My Little Red Book'. Amid all this we have Steinman throwing a full orchestra at a piece called 'Requeim Metal' which is pulled from Verdi's 'Requeim Mass'. We also get 'The Opening of the Box' which Steinman recycled later into his Dance of the Vampires project.
So how does this all work in the entertainment department? Probably better than it has any right to work, frankly. The structure of the album is sometimes a bit uneven. The two covers with Ellen Foley are entertaining taken separately, but Steinman has to re-arrange heavily to make Ray Manzarek and Burt Bacharach's keyboard writing bear even the most fleeting resemblence to his own melodramatic chord-pounding structures and frankly the two compositions stand out for how little they resemble the rest of the album. The musical flow is also interrupted on a couple of occasions by narrative. First by Steinman giving a deranged and stalkerish soliloquy called 'I've Been Dreaming Up a Storm Lately'. While it does serve as a fitting introduction to the mental weirdness that lies at the heart of 'It's All Coming Back to Me Now' it is rather long and frankly Jimmy's voice doesn't convey drama nearly as well as Meat Loaf's. The second narrative break is 'The Want-Ad' featuring Ellen Foley reading a long and angsty personal ad that could easily serve as the response of the stalkee Jimmy was after before. While both narratives are at least interesting - and in Foley's case, darned amusing - they really break up the flow of the music.
The strengths of Steinman are the drama, energy, and sheer bombast of his arrangements. You have to have the right performers and the right producer to make this stuff work. Rundgren, who has always been a mad genius in his own right, clearly gets Steinman and understands the tongue-in-cheek beauty of his work. Bittan was always the kind of piano player Steinman wanted to be when he sat down to compose. As for the women doing the singing here, they are marvelous. Foley has the guts and rock-and-roll toughness to carry the most sexually-charged of Steinman's work. Gina Taylor brings a powerful set of pipes to the opening tracks and Elaine Caswell is frankly a singer who deserves more attention. With the right song, she is very impressive and these are some of the right songs for her.
Overall, the album is a bit uneven at times. But most of the material here is really impressive work and there is some really fine craftsmanship at work here putting all the pieces together. Some of these songs, which were appropriated by Meat Loaf for either BOOH2 or 3, are frankly different songs with female vocalists and Steinman's compositional sensibilities actually seem to mesh better wih women - Bonnie Tyler's work helps attest to this. So if you appreciate the wry humor and over-the-top fun of Steinman at his cheesiest, you will certainly be entertained by this album.
Apparently as I write this, the CD is only available as an import in the US. Even for a devoted fan of Steinman's work, I'm not sure it's worth the import price, but it is certainly a one-of-a-kind work which may make it valuable enough for a lot of fans."
Great album... for Steinman fans only
Rob R. García | Madrid, Spain | 04/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Only recomended for Jim Steinman fans who want to listen to all the production of this great composer. All songs are pretty cool, but the better ones have been later covered by Meat Loaf. If you like to hear rare versions of Steinman's songs (not only earlier verions, but also with totally different voices from what you may be used in his work) or you want to listen to all of his production, you should get this."