Jim Steinishman: Rock Producer

8 05 2021

Fans of bombastic power ballads and ridiculously over-produced pomp rock epics are in mourning, following the recent passing of larger-than-life songwriter, record producer and pop impresario Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf, Celine Dion, Bonnie Tyler, Isl*nd Expr*ss and many more)

Sadly Steinman’s death overshadowed the demise the very same day of his slightly less successful island cousin, local operatic rock mogul Jim Steinishman.

Like his American relative, Jim Steinishman was stagestruck from an early age, taking a degree in avante garde theatre studies (with weaving and navigation) at Lews Castle College in the late 60s. During this time he produced several stage shows including Bertolt Breasclete’s “A Maw’s A Maw” and went on to write for a number of unsuccessful Broadbay musicals in the early 1970s. 

It was while working on one of these flops (“More than Ewe Deserve”, set on a front line fank in the Viet-Ram war) that Steinishman met legendary big fat shouty cove Marvig Lee Adabroc –  aka Peat Loaf. 

Steinishman’s operatic pretensions and Peat Loaf’s thunderous bovine bellow went together like sgadan and buntata, and the pair soon went on to develop the massively successful  “Bat Out of Dell” which became one of Stornoway’s biggest selling albums of all time (8 copies), and has been in the Maciver and Darts’ album chart continuously since 1977. The enigmatic cover artwork (a painting of a crofter bursting out of a grave at Habost Cemetery, whilst driving a Massey Ferguson tractor and towing a trailer full of peats) caused some controversy at first, but has gone on to be recognised as a great work of art and is now used by the Dail bho Dheas Tourist Board.

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‘Bat Out of Dell’ was filled with epic hits including the title track, ‘You Hooked The Fish Right Out at the Creed Mouth’ and ‘Paradise By The Arnish Light’,  a duet with Eilean Foley. 

Steinishman and Peat Loaf continued to collaborate intermittently over the subsequent years, but they were cursed by bad timing. When Steinishman had songs handy, Peat Loaf would have lost his voice, or got the cuiream and be refusing to sing anything but psalms; When Peat Loaf was ready to work, Steinishman would be short of material because he’d just flogged his least ruppish  songs to one of his other artists. While several very successful albums emerged, including “Deaf Singer”, and of course “Bat Out of Dell 2 : Back Into Dell”, none of them attained the dizzy heights of the original.  Although come to think of it,  BOOD2:BID did have one outstanding track… ‘I Would Do Anything for Lochs (But I won’t do Pairc)’

As well as Peat Loaf, Steinishman wrote and produced for a wide range of other artistes over the years, with varying degrees of success. These included:  

Celine Geehonk: Steinishman gave Geehonk an island-wide hit with a song complaining about the noise all the animals on her croft were constantly making: ‘It’s All Coming Baahh To Meow’ 

Donnie Tyler – Steinishman worked with gravel-voiced Skigersta power ballad diva (and bathroom renovation specialist) Tyler in the early 80s, producing Tyler’s platinum-selling 1983 album ‘Plaster(field) than the Speed of Night’ in exchange for getting his downstairs toilet done in classy Pilkington Pink Watersplash. This partnership is best remembered for a  mega power ballad about trying to beat the record for attending every church in South Lochs over a Communion weekend: ‘Total Eaglais of the Pairc’.

The Dun Ringles (all their albums)

Aird Supply: The Rubach soft rockers had a hit with the knitwear themed  ‘Making Gloves Out of Nothing At All, At All, At All’

Def Leóbag : Steinishman was hired briefly to work on Leóbag’s 1985 ‘Hiort-steria’ album, but got the bròg for doing fleek all except ordering the entire menu in the Island Star for his tea every night and charging it to the band. He was replaced by the band’s preferred producer, Mutt Langabhat.

Barry Manorpark: Reached high in the charts with a cover of ‘Feed ‘Em and Sheep’ from the Deaf Singer album.

Despite the time he spent in the studio, Steinishman’s true passions were opera and musical theatre rather than rock ‘n’ roll, and he continued to write and produce musicals and stage shows throughout his career.

At one point West Side musical lechend  Arnol Leòid Weaver approached Steinishman to write the lyrics for ‘Phantom of the Opera House’ (which became a smash hit for the Stornoway Thespians – starring Michael Crawford as Bogie, Sarah Brightman as Ch*rsty Al*ne and a young John Barrowman as 3rd Urinal On The Left). Sadly Steinishman had to decline – he was busy producing “Holding Out For A Hearach” for Donnie Tyler, in exchange for getting his kitchen splashbacks done as a homer.

However Steinishman and Leòid Weaver did subsequently collaborate on “Gristle Down The Bone” which became a hit on Broadbay. The show provided a hit single for ageing teen popsters Bodachzone, who topped the local Seceder charts in 1998 with ‘No Matter What I Do (I’m Predestined for Eternal Damnation Anyway)’

Steinishman will be sadly missed, but let’s finish by all singing along to ‘Total Eaglais of the Pairc’. All together now!!!!

‘Once upon a time I was going to Kinloch

But now I’m only communing in Pairc

There’s none that I can’t do

The total eaglais of the Pairc

Once upon a time there was Laxay in my life

But now there’s only Cromore in the dark

Now that I can pray

At the total eaglais of the Pairc’