If this album is remembered at all, it is typically for being the original release of “It’s All Coming back to Me Now.” However, to me, that’s not the highlight. If Elaine Caswell’s lead vocals are mentioned at all, it is typically for her original lead performance of “It’s All Coming back to Me Now.” However, to me, that’s not her highlight. That’s because “It Just Won’t Quit” exists. Even within Steinman fandom, it’s largely overshadowed by Meat Loaf’s recording a few years later, but this is the original release of one of his greatest songs, and it’s amazing.
The song opens with a booming piano chord from Roy Bittan, followed by the song’s complex main riff, played seemingly by a combination of his grand piano and Jeff Bova’s keyboards, which creates the effect of a gargantuan harpsichord. It’s an interesting sound, because it has that sort of sharp, plucked quality of a harpsichord combined with the resonance of a piano. An oddly wooden-sounding drum sound and Jimmy Buslowe’s bass then join in, along with some synth strings. Caswell’s vocal joins in, singing the same melody that the synth strings are playing.
At the start of the prechorus, the instrumentation remains the same but Caswell ups her volume and intensity and the synth strings move away from the melody while the drums become traditional drums booming in the background. The backing vocals, credited as “arranged by Eric Troyer” but lacking any specific individual credits except for “featured vocal by Deliria Wilde,” join with hers to make a huge vocal group for the first part of the chorus then it cuts back down to the verse level for the repetition of the title. A screeching guitar chord then leads into a short instrumental passage that mimics the verses but with some orchestral-sounding synthesizer bursts and the lead vocal played by guitar. We go through the same pattern again, but Caswell in her vocal and Eddie Martinez in his guitar solo both take more liberties with the melody. We conclude with one final time through the chorus but with Caswell the only voice and her coloring more outside the lines melodically and then a soft piano-and-vocal repetition of the first verse.
It’s essentially the same epic ballad formula as “It’s All Coming back to Me Now,” but, like with “Making Love out of Nothing at All” versus “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” the more muscular guitar in this one gives it a bit more dynamics than its cousin. It’s a smaller difference here than in those two, but it’s definitely there.
Another aspect of this song that has always stood out to me is the vocals. Caswell’s leads on their own are powerful and filled with the emotional delivery and playing with the melody that befits the arrangement. The backing vocals come off as almost robotic with their staid following of the melody as opposed to Caswell. That combination is great and leads to an interesting feeling that the chorus is somehow the less emotional part of the song, befitting lyrics that suggest in the chorus that the confused singer is putting things together.
Like much of Original Sin, this is a song about the creative and destructive power of love. While, yes, it is a song about love, it’s a song about love as something to be sought but also something dangerous and painful. She is terrifyingly powerless against it but also feels no desire to fight it. It includes some of my favorite Steinman lyrics ever (“Maybe I’m crazy and I’m losing my senses/Maybe I’m possessed by a spirit or such/Maybe I’m desperate and I got no defenses/Can you get me a prescription for that one perfect touch?”) and delivers the album’s overriding message about as straightforwardly as anything does.
Meat Loaf claimed that Steinman had written “It Just Won’t Quit” for Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell and didn’t tell the singer when he decided to put it on the earlier-released Original Sin. Meat always claimed that he was angry about that decision (sometimes saying it was the angriest he had ever been at Steinman), and I can see why–it’s an amazing song. However, Caswell’s performance is part of what makes it so good here–we will get to the Meat Loaf version later but, spoiler alert, I think Caswell is better. It’s a shame she never really got a chance as a lead vocalist when this album basically got shelved from US release, because this performance shows that “It’s All Coming back to Me Now” was no fluke.
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