BLACK SABBATH – The Eternal Idol

Black Sabbath - The Eternal Idol

Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol [Remastered] (2004, Sanctuary Midline – UK Import)
Original Release: 1987, Warner Bros. Records

1. “The Shining” … 5:58
2. “Ancient Warrior” … 5:34
3. “Hard Life to Love” … 5:00
4. “Glory Ride” … 4:48
5. “Born to Lose” … 3:43
6. “Nightmare” … 5:17
7. “Scarlet Pimpernel” … 2:07
8. “Lost Forever” … 4:00
9. “Eternal Idol” … 6:35

Tony Martin – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Bob Daisley – Bass
Dave Spitz – Bass (Credited, but did not play)
Eric Singer – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Bev Bevan – Percussion

Produced by: Jeff Glixman, Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, Chris Tsangarides

Black Sabbath keeps rolling through the ’80s! Ozzy? Who needs him! It’s amazing to me that this band has really only been successful when Ozzy Osbourne or Ronnie James Dio are fronting. Black Sabbath has done some great hard rock & metal without those guys, but us rock ‘n’ rollers have a thing about accepting and embracing change.

Actually… I should say Tony Iommi has done some great rock & metal, he was the one constant force and always kept the band filled with talented musicians and it’s his peserverance and the high quality songs he kept writing for the band during the lean years that have really proven what a rock legend he really is. Given the scrutiny the Gillan, Hughes and Martin albums have been under, it’s a miracle the band made a successful transition when Dio replaced Ozzy.

With Ray Gillen standing in for Glenn Hughes (who was fired due to awful live performances) on the remainder of the poor-selling Seventh Star tour, Gillen was made the official singer for Black Sabbath. He got as far as recording demos for what would be The Eternal Idol, but reportedly “mismanagement and miscommunication” amongst the band led to his exit.

Enter little known vocalist Tony Martin, who starting with this album, would have the second longest tenure of any Black Sabbath singer (Ozzy, of course, being the first). How much work Martin had to put into this album is up for debate. Some sources state The Eternal Idol was fully recorded with Gillen on vocals and Martin was rushed into the studio to replace those vocals, but the only extent of Gillen’s involvement that can truly be confirmed are the demos that are floating around. According to Martin, Gillen’s laugh was left on “Nightmare”, but everything else was erased.

In recent years, some critiques of the Martin-era have softened and the Tony Martin albums are starting to be accepted and praised and rightfully so. The guy sings his butt off here and his voice has similarities to Dio (especially on the album’s opener “The Shining”). I’m sure this fact more than helped him get the gig and is perhaps what has helped people “cope” with having someone in Sabbath not named Dio or Ozzy.

Despite quitting during recording, Dave Spitz is still credited as bassist. It worked out for the best though because ex-Ozzy bassist (!) Bob Daisley was brought in, re-recorded all bass parts and then helped with writing the album. According to Daisley, Spits remains credited because Daisley never intended to join Black Sabbath and it was done in the name of continuity.

Sure enough, Daisley would end up leaving before production on the album wrapped. Eric Singer would end up leaving before the album’s release. Bassist Jo Burt and drummer Terry Chimes were brought in for the ensuing tour, but as far as I know, their association with the band was never intended to be long term and they were official members.

Anyway, despite the chaos behind the scenes, this is a great album and it finds Black Sabbath employing the popular sounds of the day (American rock/metal) splendidly and adding a dash of Dio Sabbath. This isn’t my favorite Martin album, but it was a great debut and introduction to him.

Highlights: All of it.


Posted on August 12, 2009, in Black Sabbath and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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