You should know I’m a huge fan of Meat Loaf, one of the greatest rock singers ever — and that’s coming from a man who considers rock the greatest music ever.
As a reviewer for The Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City (for four years there I was a transplanted Texan), I heard Meat’s debut Bat Out of Hell album before its release and championed it, big-time. I wrote a rave review. I interviewed Meat and partner Jim Steinman, the gifted songwriter, before they came to town. I hung out backstage with them at a sparsely attended show in Oklahoma City. I continued to support Meat’s music over the years — seeing my praise validated with an explosion of popularity. And, of course, I saw his movies.
Roadie was one of them.
Now Roadie makes its Blu-ray debut, on Tuesday, Aug. 20, from Shout! Factory.
Has the 1980 film worn well? Is Meat a crooner instead of a belter?
Don’t get me wrong. I recognize Roadie as a guilty-pleasure road trip flick in which a beefy young Texas dude (Meat) stumbles into a profession for which he’s ideally suited — as a rock music roadie — and experiences comic misadventures while seeking the love of a particular groupie. And it’s great seeing genuine stars of the day, such as Alice Cooper and Blondie, perform.
But director Alan Rudolph, known more for thoughtful, dramatic works such as Welcome to L.A., too often reduces rock ‘n’ roll — and Texas — to a series of grotesque caricatures not even vaguely rooted in reality. I say this as a Texan myself — and one who’s well aware that Meat himself is a good ol’ Texas boy.
I liked this movie back in ’80. Now, I tolerate it as a nostalgia piece. I wish I could like it more, but time hasn’t been kind to its punched-up excesses and roughness around the edges. (Production values were not a major emphasis, as underscored by Blu-ray’s unforgiving exactitude.)
I do give Roadie credit for giving Meat a rare title role, and it’s nice to see good ol’ Tulsa boy Gailard Sartain as his put-upon buddy in the beer-truck drivin’ business.
But I’m a connoisseur of rock movies, and too many truly great ones overshadow this, from A Hard Day’s Night, Still Crazy and This Is Spinal Tap to Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Almost Famous and Steinman’s own Streets of Fire — not to mention Meat’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In that context, view Roadie as a quirky artifact and enjoy the bumpy ride. Just don’t expect greatness.
— Bruce Westbrook
Tags: Meat Loaf