AIR SUPPLY

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Making Love (Out Of Nothing At All) (J Steinman) – Air Supply 1983.

Graham Russell had not written a hit for the group since The One That You Love in 1981, and here the boys relied on Meatloaf’s songwriter and sideman Jim Steinman (below) to provide what was a typically bombastic, overblown, and somewhat pretentious power ballad, crammed full of dramatic musical flourishes, anti-climaxes, and florid lyrics with the Steinman brand of rock opera excess stamped across the whole production.

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One of Steinman’s lyrical devices was to see how many different ways he could say the same thing repeatedly, whilst simultaneously racheting up the drama, volume and expectations of the listener, and this was emphasized here, so that following a tinkling piano intro Hitchcock then enumerates compulsively the things he knows how to do –  cry, find answers, lie, fake it, scheme, tell the truth, dream, touch, prove, pull someone closer, and let them loose- followed by predictable greeting card imagery – hearts beating like a drum, stars shining like spotlights, and beacons brightening the darkness – no wonder this guy’s been left trying to make love out of nothing at all, but for Steinman excess was success, less was never an option, he knew how to create hit songs, and this was no exception.

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The song was originally included as a new track on the band’s first Greatest Hits compilation album released in 1983, and is a reworking of the main title theme from the 1980 movie A Small Circle of Friends, for which Jim Steinman wrote the score. Steinman originally offered the song along with Total Eclipse Of The Heart to Meat Loaf (below with Steinman) for his Midnight At The Lost And Found album, however Meat Loaf’s record company Epic/Cleveland refused to pay Steinman his asking fee for the songs, so Steinman offered Total Eclipse to Bonnie Tyler and this one to Air Supply.

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They were both monster international hits, the ‘Loaf would regret his label’s miserly decision, who subsequently used mostly Meatloaf compositions on his album, which stiffed badly, and Meatloaf filed for bankruptcy, Bat Out of Hell had sold 30 million copies in 1978, so Meatloaf’s financial decline at this time, was even more remarkable.

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By 1983 Air Supply had changed much of their classic lineup, both in the recording studio and on tour, but Steinman had preferred to use his own musos, and opted for Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band members , Roy Bittan on synthesizer and keyboards and Max Weinberg on drums, to musically underscore the record with extra clout and muscularity. Rick Derringer (above), who was previously guitarist for The McCoys and Johnny Winter provided the electric guitar solos that so dramatically distinguished Making Love (Out of Nothing At All) from all previous Air Supply songs, where gutsy power ballad guitar solos had been eschewed for understated, restrained in-fills, just before Russell Hitchcock would re-emerge to complete songs with his helium-infused tenor finales.

The song was only slightly toned down for the more decidedly MOR tastes of the Air Supply fanbase, it certainly worked, charting #2 in the US (#45 in Aust.), it was only kept from the top spot by another Steinman song, Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, giving Steinman consecutive peak charters in the USA at this time. Tyler would also record a memorable eight minute cover version of Making Love (Out Of Nothing At All) for her album Free Spirit, in 1995.

This was the last time Air Supply would take a new single into the US top ten, but their Greatest Hits album issued in 1983 was however a bona fide smash hit, charting at #2 in the US where it sold seven million copies, and also hit #2 in Australia in August of that year.

The promo video was typically melodramatic, Graham Russell is driving to the airport with his wife Jodi to depart on a tour, she is not going to accompany him, despite his pleas for her to do so, their relationship seems fragile, troubled, and the singer’s absences on tour are the main problem. Russell and Hitchcock then appear in performance on stage, this is intercut with other domestic scenes of the husband and wife, she is packing a suitcase, turns her husband’s photo face down on the table, and then departs in her car, apparently walking out on him. She is driving away when she suddenly does a U-turn and heads back towards the airport, is re-united with her husband, and they lived happily ever after.

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This song has been re-birthed in recent years when included in the hit musical Bat of Hell which features the compositions of Jim Steinman and has been a box office hit on Broadway and in London’s West End for the past five years.

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