Crowd of Full Pockets

Movie and Music Analysis from One Lacking Any Credentials to Provide It


“Stark Raving Love” by Jim Steinman

This is one of the more quintessential Jim Steinman songs to me, because it’s this enormous, glorious mess. Not all of the parts seem to belong, but they’re all good, and there are some just wonderfully garish lead guitars culminating in a fantastic solo from Todd Rundgren.

The song begins with a booming guitar chord on top of a flamenco-style piano riff that even non-Steinman obsessives will recognize as the later basis for “Holding out for a Hero.” A funky second guitar joins, then a wordless choir, then Roger Powell’s synthesizer, and finally Steinman’s vocals. It’s a loud sound, even for Steinman, and coming after the softness of “Lost Boys and Golden Girls” and then a speech, it’s almost jarring. The flamenco piano calms down into a more typical pop riff in the chorus but otherwise most stays the same. Musically, the song largely continues in the same wall of sound, except for a brief clapping breakdown using a faster version of the chorus of “Lost Boys and Golden Girls” after the second chorus that leads into a short-but-fun guitar solo from Davey Johnstone, Todd Rundgren, or both and then another, much longer, solo at the end.

I called this song this album’s version of the Phil Spector tribute that was “You Took the Words Right out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)” in the intro, and that’s probably the biggest stretch in my argument that the album is being forced into the Bat out of Hell-shaped box. There is definitely a Phil Spector wall of sound similarity in the chorus and frankly the clapping breakdown has only ever made sense to me as a Spector soundalike (Though why it’s the chorus of “Lost Boys and Golden Girls” again, I don’t know.), but the hook of the song is that flamenco piano and what immediately made it stand out to me was the guitar leads, especially the ride out solo.

The lyrics to this song feel like some sort of random Steinman trope generator. It starts describing in third-person what sounds like teenaged vampires again, lustfully “stalking all the prey in the bars,” then shifts to first-person to admonish/admire (I’m not sure which it’s supposed to be, or maybe it’s both!) a previously-unmentioned target of the song that “you don’t say nothing but your body really knows how to speak” and “if you’re too scared to jump, then you gotta be shoved.” Like with “Lost Boys and Golden Girls,” it’s a plea to have sex while we’re still young, but now it’s unreasonably aggressive. “It doesn’t even matter what you gimme! Gimme! Gimme!/Too much is never enough/Now my blood is pumping faster and I’m reader for a/Stark raving love” is frankly disturbingly over-the-top.

Steinman’s vocals here are the right kind of unhinged. They’re overly emotive, almost ignoring the melody at points, and wildly changing line to line. It fits the theme of the song, but whether it’s good is frankly difficult to decide. The lack of lung power is still a problem here and it’s easy to imagine prime Meat Loaf tearing into this song as a great improvement, but I’m still a fan of Steinman’s vocals here.

Overall, it’s a weirdly pieced-together song that is somehow both quintessentially Steinman and a strangely interloping presence. And I always consider it a highlight of the album. Frankly, it’s still my favorite use of the piano-and-choir riff that “Holding out for a Hero” would make famous, and it probably has the best guitar solo of anything Steinman has ever worked on.


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