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What You See Is What You Get - Stoney and Meatloaf

Other artists who were signed to Motown's Rare Earth rock label included the duo Stoney and Meatloaf. Yes, the world renowned Meatloaf who sadly died on January 20th of this year. Like label mate R Dean Taylor (see recent posts), he died from COVID 19 or COVID related illness.

After fledgling years in a couple of bands, Meatloaf got his first recording contract when he and fellow cast member Shaun Stoney Murphy were spotted by a Motown executive while performing in the LA production of the musical "Hair". The result was two singles and an album in released in 1971. The first of these, the single "What You See Is What You Get" was the only one to achieve any success, reaching number 71 in the US Billboard chart.

Curiously, this isn't rock so much as soul, which was an early indicator, along with the label's preceding R Dean Taylor's releases (see previous posts), that Rare Earth was to become Motown's white artists' label rather than just their rock outlet. This was emphasised when "What You See....." reached 36 on Billboard Soul Singles chart.

Though not quite Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell material, one can imagine the Temptations singing the verses, which are very "Cloud Nine", if not the chorus. But Marvin Aday (Meatloaf) and partner Stoney both deliver stonking vocals that anyone from the Motor City would have been proud of.

Meatloaf left Motown shortly after, vexed that their album track ""Who Is the Leader of the People?" had been remixed and given to Edwin Starr as a potential single release. He obviously didn't understand that this was the norm for Motown, that you found the best version of one of the company's own songs and regurgitated it for the market place, all royalties accruing to the corporation.

He was presumably similarly confused when he had to recurrently talk down suggestion that he and songwriter Jim Steinman, the partnership that delivered his debut solo album, the spectacularly successful "Bat Out of Hell", six years later, had copied the style of Bruce Springsteen's seminal "Born to Run" LP of 1975. But the New York rock scene of the seventies, like the Motown Detroit of the previous decade, was powered by key musicians such as iconic pianist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg who were on both discs and whose distinctive playing did much to knit together the heavy guitar riffs and operatic production of Nils Lofgren, later himself to play guitar behind Springsteen.

Different city, different sound. What you see is what you get.


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