BLACK SABBATH – Born Again

Black Sabbath – Born Again [Remastered] (2004, Sanctuary Midline – UK Import)
Original Release: 1983, Warner Bros. Records

1. “Trashed” … 4:16
2. “Stonehenge” … 1:58
3. “Disturbing the Priest” … 5:49
4. “The Dark” … 0:45
5. “Zero the Hero” … 7:35
6. “Digital Bitch” … 3:39
7. “Born Again” … 6:34
8. “Hot Line” … 4:52
9. “Keep It Warm” … 5:36

Band:
Ian Gillan – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar, Flute
Geezer Butler – Bass
Bill Ward – Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Produced by: Robin Black and Black Sabbath

What do you get when you make Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan the lead singer for Black Sabbath? Purple Sabbath! However you wanna name’em, both bands’ influences show up on Iommi & Co.’s third try at a singer. Ronnie James Dio (along with then-drummer Vinny Appice) had exited the band after a battle of egos between Dio and Iommi. Supposedly, a mixing war between Iommi/Butler and Dio/Appice for the 1982 live album Live Evil was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Ronny and Vinny would go on to form the band Dio, which itself has gone on to become a legendary hard rock/heavy metal band itself while Bill Ward was coaxed back behind the drum kit and ex-Deep Purple front man Ian Gillan was installed as the new voice for Sabbath.

And what Gillan and Sabbath delivered is one Sabbath’s heaviest! I really love Gillan’s voice used in a Sabbath setting. The album didn’t set the the world on fire or garner many positive reviews at the time (even now, All Music Guide completely trashes it), but I happen to think it’s one of the best from the band’s catalog and it’s criminal that it hasn’t seen an official CD release in the United States. It’s funny how once people get perspective on something they can go, “oh yeah — this album rocks”, after trashing it for decades.

I don’t see why this album never got proper credit though. The riff in “Zero the Hero” is just plain MEAN and “Disturbing the Priest” is a manic and ugly (in a good way) heavy metal song where Ian does an amazing over-the-top performance. Toss in “Born Again” which is a slow ‘n’ gloomy number that sounds like a song from the Ozzy era and the Purple-esque “Hot Line” and that’s more than enough to give this album a thumbs up from me. Not that the rest is filler though!

The mix is fairly muddy, but the music is so amazingly evil and heavy, it actually adds to it, but I would still love to hear a cleaned up version some day, but unfortunately, Sanctuary didn’t do that with this issue. They only remastered the already muddy mix. The demos for this album actually have better production values, that’s where Sanctuary should have gone for a proper mix. I’ve read that the cause of the poor mix had something to do with humidity getting into the studio and screwing up the tapes. The band wasn’t around at the time of this accident, so off the tapes went and by the time they discovered the error, it was too late — the album was already pressed. Both Iommi and Gillan have mentioned they would like to eventually give us a remixed version to match what they originally intended. Hopefully, that’ll happen someday.

I had owned a CD-R copy of this album for a few years, but I’ve always wanted a real CD copy, so when I found out an import was available from Sanctuary Midline over in the UK, I went for it. Sanctuary seemingly holds the European rights to most Sabbath releases and they do a really great job with the reissues, giving band photos and a back story on each album in the booklet. My only complaint is that the 2004 reissues all feature the same kind of purple printing featuring the Black Sabbath fallen angel on the actual CDs. This type of printing seems to work for Seventh Star (which was a fairly light album), but to use it on a heavy metal monster like Born Again? It strikes me as silly.

Highlights: All of it. One of my favorite albums.

www.blacksabbath.com
www.heavenandhelllive.com
www.myspace.com/heavenandhelllive
www.gillan.com
www.myspace.com/iangillan

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Posted on October 26, 2008, in Black Sabbath and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. THE MOST ROCKINGEST SABBATH ALBUM. PERIOD.

    One of my most favourite albums. Gillan goes batshit crazy with his screams and the muddled sound [along with Bill Ward hammering away] makes this one stand out from the rest. I’m avoiding the demo’s [which are supposedly cleaner] so as not to spoil the album! 😀

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