As he continues to tour in support of his 2010 album "Hang Cool Teddy Bear" -- and to commemorate his 40th anniversary as a recording artist -- Meat Loaf  has three new projects in the works, including a studio album that will feature rappers Chuck D  from Public Enemy  and Lil Jon .
"Ever since we started with ('Hang Cool Teddy Bear' producer) Rob Cavallo, from that minute on I've been back in the music business and having a really, really great time -- which I haven't had for five years before that," Meat Loaf, who's returned to Sony Music -- which released three of his albums, including 1977's multi-platinum "Bat Out of Hell" -- tells Billboard.com.
First up will be "Hell in a Handbasket," due out in February (except for Australia and New Zealand) and an album Meat Loaf calls "the most personal record I've ever made. It's about how I feel the world's gone to hell in a handbasket. It's really the first record that I've ever put out about how I feel about life and how I feel about what's going on at the moment." Meat Loaf says the album is finished -- no release date has yet been established -- and "sounds different," although he adds that "it's rock, definitely rock," produced by Paul Crook, who's part of his current touring band, with Cavallo consulting.
As for the rappers, Meat Loaf met Lil Jon when the two appeared on "Celebrity Apprentice" this past spring, while Chuck D came through Anthrax 's Scott Ian, who is Meat Loaf's son-in-law. "(D) was going to do one thing, and he came back and did something else and we flipped out," Meat Loaf reports.
Meat Loaf also has about nine songs towards another studio album, who's title we won't reveal. "We've started to do drum tracks on those songs, and we'll get more in pretty soon," he says. Meanwhile he's planning a 2012 Christmas album called "Hot Holidays" that will feature guests such as Garth Brooks , Reba McEntire  "and different rock people and some actors...After I played Sony ('Hell in a Hand Basket') I said, 'Look, I've got two other records. I've got a Christmas record and I've got another record,' and they said, 'Well, get us the Christmas record and start working on the other one.' So there you go -- I'll just keep recording."
Meat Loaf -- whose first album, "Stoney & Meatloaf" with current Bob Seger backup singer Shaun Murphy, came out in 1971 on Motown's Rare Earth label -- says he's also keeping an eye out for further acting opportunities, although at this point "I'm more focused on the music than I've been in a long time." But he's also happy to be name-checked in an new TV ad for Allstate Insurance. "I liked it. I think it's funny," he notes. "They showed it to me, and they paid me for (use of) my picture. It's autographed, by the way; it goes by so fast you can't really read it, but it says, 'To the professor...' It's pretty cool."
Meat Loaf is recording in-between tour dates, which go into early September in the U.S. He's also booked a run of Australia and New Zealand for for October, including a spot on the A Day on the Green festival Oct. 8 in Hunter Valley. "Hell in a Handbasket" will be released in those countries to coincide with the tour.
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