Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]

Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition] (2011, Universal Music/Sanctuary Records – UK Import)
Original Release: 1983, Warner Bros. Records

Disc One
1. “Trashed”
2. “Stonehenge”
3. “Disturbing The Priest”
4. “The Dark
5. “Zero The Hero”
6. “Digital Bitch”
7. “Born Again”
8. “Hot Line
9. “Keep It Warm”

Disc Two
1. “The Fallen” (Previously Unreleased)
2. “Stonehenge” (Extended Version)
3. “Hot Line” (live)
4. “War Pigs” (live)
5. “Black Sabbath” (live)
6.. “The Dark” (live)
7. “Zero The Hero” (live)
8. “Digital Bitch” (live)
9. “Iron Man” (live)
10. “Smoke On The Water” (live)
11. “Paranoid” (live)

Band:
Ian Gillan – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar, Flute
Geezer Butler – Bass
Bill Ward – Drums
Bev Bevan – Drums (Disc Two – Tracks 3-11)

Additional Musicians:
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Producer: Black Sabbath & Robin Black

So this is the third time I’ll be reviewing this album (click for my original review and unmixed demos review). The original album itself is great and I count it as one of Sabbath’s best records. Born Again is notorious for the muddy mix it has and while this 2011 edition is a remaster and NOT a remix and has been cleaned up a bit. Honestly, I really can’t tell the difference between this edition and the 2004 reissue. It still sounds muddy and muffled and granted there is a certain atmosphere it gives to the album but I would still love to hear a remixed and clean version but it looks like that is basically an impossibility given the condition of the source tapes.

Now, just like before with previous Sabbath “Deluxe Editions”, the main reason I bought this was for the second disc. Previous to this release, “The Fallen” and the extended version of “Stonehenge” were being passed around on bootlegs. I guess Iommi wanted to finally “officially” get them out there so good for him and both songs are good tracks anyway so it’s good that Tony can finally make some money off them.

The real jewel of this release is the live tracks. Again, Born Again-era concert bootlegs are available (like Purple Sabbath Definitive Edition) but it’s nice to have a legit live release of Ian Gillan fronting the band. The songs are taken from the band’s performance on August 27, 1983 at the Reading Festival in Reading, Berkshire, England. In comparison to the Purple Sabbath bootleg, much of the set is the same except “Children of the Grave” and “Heaven and Hell” are not present while “The Dark” intro is. I’m not sure whether if what is presented here is the full set from the Reading show but the bands plays a few notes from “Heaven and Hell” at the end of “Paranoid”.

I know to this day there is great controversy surrounding the album, Gillan’s involvement with the band and of the band’s choice to cover “Smoke On The Water” in concerts (BTW – it goes over well with the Reading crowd) but Born Again is a great and special moment in the band’s history. Even if the reaction at the time from critics and fans alike was lukewarm, the Born Again album stands tall in the Sabbath catalog and the live show was just as good. If Ronnie can cover Ozzy songs, why not Gillan? He does a fantastic take on “Black Sabbath”. Although to be honest, I’d rather hear Gillan’s take on the Ronnie songs.

And going off of what I said earlier about the reaction to this album being lukewarm, I definitely think a big part of that ws because the album was never released in the U.S. for some reason (not a single U.S. reissue either!). So maybe the lack of excitement over this album and lineup was due word of mouth with those words coming from disgruntled fans who either wanted Dio or Ozzy in the band. I imagine in those days it was harder to get your hands on an import so if you knew a guy who sayid the album sucked, you took his word for it and passed that critique along to the next guy.

While Ozzy/Dio loyalists will probably ignore this release, I highly recommend this release for fans of the Gillan era. Even if you have the original album, it’s worth picking up for the second disc.

www.blacksabbath.com

Buy the Deluxe Edition on Amazon.com

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Posted on June 5, 2011, in Black Sabbath and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I saw Black Sabbath with Ian Gillian live in Philadelphia in November 1983 and it was (in 80s terms) a kick ass concert. Yes, at first it was awkward hearing Sabbath play “Smoke On The Water” but it worked. I think that it is finally time to give Ian Gillian the credit he deserves as a Black Sabbath front man.

    • Problem is… he doesn’t want the credit! 😛

    • I was at the same concert and couldn’t agree more; Gillan was impressive and I thought fit in better than Dio. I went to the show all jacked-up to see the “young, upcoming” opening act Quiet Riot, but was blown away by Sabbath and Gillen. Try to forget the memorably bogus album cover, Born Again is a riff-a-rama and a good slice of metal.

  2. That makes me respect him more.

  3. Yeah, he’s said before he was the worst singer Black Sabbath ever had and that he only took the gig for the money.

  4. I saw this line up and it was incredible, I have only seen Black Sabbath three times once with Ian Gillan and twice with Ronnie James Dio.

    Back in 1983 this album was easy to get hold of on vinyl and I even bought at the local Kmart, this would be the last commercially success album in the States til Dehumanizer.

  5. I finally got this in the mail the other day. I have the version from Sanctuary and I can’t tell the difference in the “remastering.” I was very disappointed. I think Iommi should have waited to see if the original master tapes could be located before releasing this one again. As we all know, the mix on this was horrible even on vinyl.

    • So I’ve been told, the issue is that Sanctuary only has the rights to the Vertigo masters while Warner Bros. owns another set (which apparently has the better version).

      From what I read originally, the original source was the victim of some really bad humidity that got into the studio and basically we’re screwed from ever hearing a cleaned up/remixed version.

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