One such admirer was recording artist Todd Rundgren, who, under the mistaken impression that Meat Loaf and Steinman had a record deal, agreed to produce “Bat Out of Hell.” (When the truth came to light, he also agreed to fund the recording himself.) In the fall of 1975, the musicians gathered at the Bearsville Studio in Woodstock, NY, where they were joined by members of Rundgren’s band Utopia. , as well as Weinberg and Roy Bittan, the pianist of the E Street Band.
Sulton said the group “all had a hand” in how the songs were arranged. “My first time hearing ‘Paradise,’ I remember thinking ‘it’s obvious what the song is,'” he said. “It’s kind of a boogie-woogie shuffle, and then there’s the Phil Spector part, and then there’s a bit of ‘Thunder Road.’ The song laid itself out for us in its entirety with just Jim playing the piano and Meat Loaf sang it live.
After rehearsals, the band recorded “Paradise” in sections, without vocals. Weinberg said Steinman urged him to play “like a runaway teenager”. “Teenage drumming is adultery and very theatrical; it’s like a spice because it’s not something you always want to do,” he said. “But he told me to hit those things so hard that they fell over, and you hear that in ‘Paradise’. Towards the end I’ll just slam on the cymbals.’
Foley’s vocals were recorded in one take. “I did my part individually, but I let Meat come into the room so I could act and sing for him,” she said. “We both had character; he was that poor, scared, horny man.” Dodd, who was one of the few people in the room when Meat Loaf recorded his own vocals, said Meat Loaf also sang with character. The first recording was originally longer, clocking in at about 11 minutes; Dodd said about three minutes of background vocals were omitted from the song’s outro.
Even with a completed album, Meat Loaf and Steinman struggled to find a record deal. Dodd recalled record executive Clive Davis telling Steinman “he needed to learn to write rock and roll.” But the album was eventually accepted and released by executive Steve Popovich’s Cleveland International Records, and it slowly gained traction with its release in 1977. Its popularity was boosted by a promotional music video for “Paradise,” which featured Meat Loaf and singer Karla DeVito – lip-syncing with Foley’s vocals – played on stage.
In the 2011 book “I Want My MTV,” Meat Loaf said he posted the videos before midnight for the screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” “That’s still the best-selling album in the history of the Netherlands, and I’ve never played there,” he said. “It’s all because of the ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ video.”