Meat Loaf, ‘Bat Out of Hell III’ (Virgin)
This album was haunted by a now-resolved legal dispute between Meat Loaf and long-time collaborator Jim Steinman, and many may still cry, “False Bat!”: A few of the seven Steinman-penned tracks have been recorded previously (including “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” a hit for Celine Dion). Too bad. Rarely have two talents worked together so perfectly — Meat’s Broadway-sized vocals animating Steinman’s grandiose teen-angst anthems. Instead, we get Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx and lifetime AOR song-wizard Desmond Child on opening track “The Monster Is Loose,” which dulls the sword-swinging melodrama in favor of pedestrian stomp — it’s Conan instead of Lancelot. Meat’s voice is there, the cover art rules, but something vital is missing.