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Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life [Review]

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 Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life
2014, Rhino Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. Neon Knights – Anthrax
2. The Last In Line – Tenacious D
3. The Mob Rules – Adrenaline Mob
4. Rainbow In The Dark – Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher
5. Straight Through The Heart – Halestorm
6. Starstruck – Motörhead with Biff Byford
7. The Temple Of The King – Scorpions
8. Egypt (The Chains Are On) – Doro
9. Holy Diver – Killswitch Engage
10. Catch The Rainbow – Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
11. I – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
12. Man On The Silver Mountain – Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
13. Ronnie Rising Medley (A Light In The Black / Tarot Woman / Stargazer / Kill The King) – Metallica
14. This Is Your Life – Dio
Bonus Track:
15. Buried Alive – Jasta

Well, there certainly hasn’t been an absence of Dio-related releases since Ronnie’s passing. In the 4 years that Ronnie has been gone there have been two compilations, two live releases (a third is due shortly) and at least three tribute albums by my count. Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life is the third tribute album that I am aware of. The first two tributes were Jorn’s Dio (which Wendy Dio gave her blessing for) and Joey DeMaio’s Magic (which Wendy did not approve of), though I’m sure there’s probably more out there.

As far as star power and  talent goes, you won’t find a better Dio tribute: Anthrax, Halestorm, Metallica, Scorpions, Rob Halford, Motorhead, Biff Byford, Vinny Appice, Doro, Doug Aldrich… the list goes on and on.

Most these songs are played fairly straight and faithfully but it’s still interesting to hear Dio covered by other well-known artists and the songs cover his years in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the Dio band. The majority of these tracks range from good to excellent. Even Tenacious D (who I normally can’t stand) do a decent job.

There are a few tracks I do have an issue with though. For one, Killswitch Engage’s “Holy Diver”. I don’t like metalcore and never needed to hear a metalcore version complete with unnecessary pinch harmonics that would make Zakk Wylde proud. I give them credit for trying to make the song their own, but it doesn’t make it a good cover.

Then there’s the cover of Black Sabbath’s “I”. There’s a good line-up of musicians on the track and Oni Logan is a good singer but he lacks the power to really put that song over the top like Dio did. He doesn’t sound bad, but I don’t think he’s the right fit for a song like this, if that makes any sense.

Then there’s “Man on the Silver Mountain”. Again, great musicians here. It’s Rob Halford backed by a collection of former Dio band members. Doug Aldrich’s presence is felt throughout the song and while he was in Dio before he joined Whitesnake, the song is given a slight makeover and comes across like a modern Whitesnake song. Halford sounds fine, but again, he doesn’t have the proper voice to be covering songs sung by Ronnie James Dio. Or songs sung by Ronnie James Dio that have been given a Whitesnake makeover. I’m liking this take on the song musically, I just think Halford’s vocals are out of place.

Glenn Hughes turns in a fantastic soulful performance on “Catch the Rainbow”. He is also backed by a collection of former Dio players. Motorhead & Biff Byford do a great job on “Starstruck” and I initially thought that was the Glenn Hughes track when I first heard it. “The Temple of the King” by Scorpions is wonderful as well. It’s a faithful cover of the original but it’s very cool to hear Klaus Meine on vocals.

The track that is garnering the most attention, obviously, is the Metallica track. I’m glad they are on this project because there’s no doubt they have brought eyes to this album that might not have given it a look otherwise. They do a good job covering four of Rainbow’s best songs.

The physical CD closes the album with the ballad “This Is Your Life” which is pulled from Dio’s 1996 album Angry Machines. The song is given extra weight considering the circumstances. Jasta’s “Buried Alive” is a digital album exclusive bonus track and is actually pretty good. Once again, Japan gets more material than North America because Stryper’s cover of “Heaven and Hell” and the Dio Disciples’ take on “Stand Up and Shout” appear on pressings over there. Seriously, what’s up with Japan always getting bonus tracks that never see the light of the day in the United States? I’ve never heard anyone actually address why that happens so often!

A few minor quibbles, but this isn’t a better Dio tribute album out and there probably never will be. Must have for Dio fans!

Highlights: “Rainbow In the Dark”, “Straight Through the Heart”, “Starstruck”, “The Temple of the King”, “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”, “Catch the Rainbow”, “Ronnie Rising Medley”, “This Is Your Life”

Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl (2011, J&R Adventures)

1. “Slow Train” … 6:49
2. “Dust Bowl “… 4:33
3. “Tennessee Plates” … 4:18
4. “The Meaning of the Blues” … 5:44
5. “Black Lung Heartache” … 4:14
6. “You Better Watch Yourself” … 3:30
7. “The Last Matador of Bayonne” … 5:23
8. “Heartbreaker” … 5:49
9. “No Love on the Street” … 6:32
10. “The Whale That Swallowed Jonah” … 4:46
11. “Sweet Rowena” … 4:34
12. “Prisoner” … 6:48

Musicians:
Joe Bonamassa – Vocals, Guitar, Slide Guitar
Glenn Hughes – Vocals (“Heartbreaker”)
Beth Hart – Vocals (“No Love On The Street”)
John Hiatt – Vocals (“Tennessee Plates”)
Vince Gill – Guitar (“Tennessee Plates”, “Sweet Rowena”), Vocals (“Sweet Rowena”)
Blondie Chaplin – Guitar
Carmine Rojas, Michael Rhodes – Bass
Anton Fig, Chad Cromwell – Drums
Rick Melick – Organ, Synthesizer
Steve Nathan – Organ, Piano

Producer: Kevin Shirley

I have been curious about the “new” blues scene for quite some time. UK’s Classic Rock magazine often does features on new and old blues musicians so it got me interested and I figured I might as well start with the scene’s current modern marvel Joey Bones (or JoBo, if you prefer).

While I don’t know how this compares to Bonamassa’s previous efforts, Dust Bowl is all that a current blues-guitarist’s album should sound like. While it’s fairly standard for blues artists to cover old blues songs (only half the album features original material), I think I would get very bored if this album was just a repeat of songs from decades and decades ago. Luckily, Joe isn’t content to merely dig up the past.

Fans of Stevie Ray Vaughan will enjoy this album a lot as that is who I am reminded on songs like “Slow Train” and “You Better Watch Yourself”. Still, Joe’s own style shines through with “Dust Bowl” (my favorite track and the most accessible), the ballad “The Last Matador of Bayonne” (which sounds like it could’ve been on one of Black Country Communion’s albums), the excellent “Black Lung Heartache” (which start off sounding like bluegrass then turns into hard rock) and “The Whale That Swallowed Jonah”. Another high point on the album is “The Meaning of the Blues”. A lot of passion behind that song and it is the epitome of a great blues song, IMO.

Despite Joe being known primarily as a blues rock guitarist, country/folk music and classic rock have their places on this album. John Hiatt’s “Tennessee Plates”, Vince Gill’s “Sweet Rowena” and Free’s “Heartbreaker” are all covered. Hiatt and Gill both pitch in on their respective songs while “The Voice of Rock” Glenn Hughes lends his voice to “Heartbreaker” and again this is a song that could’ve ended up in BCC. Heck, Joe even covers Tim Curry’s “No Love On The Street” with Beth Hart lending vocals. I never even knew Cardinal Richelieu had an album… much less three! I always thought his musical experiences were tied only to the theater and Rocky Horror Picture Show.

In the liner notes (where he comes across as very likable, down-to-earth and funny), Bonamassa states this is his best album yet. Hey, aren’t the latest releases always the “best yet”? While he kinda has to say that and I’m still a novice when it comes to Joe, he may be right. This is a very good collection of original material and some choice covers. I’d love for his next album to feature and even higher percentage of original numbers with maybe just one or two covers thrown in.

Blues rockers will really enjoy this one and it makes me wanna pick up Joe’s earlier albums.

Highlights: “Slow Train”, “Dust Bowl”, “The Meaning of the Blues”, “Black Lung Heartache”, “No Love On The Street”

http://www.facebook.com/JoeBonamassa
http://www.jbonamassa.com

Buy ‘Dust Bowl’ from Amazon.com!

Black Country Communion – 2

Black Country Communion – 2 (2011, J&R Adventures)

1. “The Outsider” … 4:23
2. “Man In The Middle” … 4:35
3. “The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall” … 5:11
4. “Save Me” … 7:43
5. “Smokestack Woman” … 5:10
6. “Faithless” … 5:12
7. “An Ordinary Son” … 7:59
8. “I Can See Your Spirit” … 4:12
9. “Little Secret” … 6:59
10. “Crossfire” … 6:03
11. “Cold” … 6:55

Band:
Glenn Hughes – Lead Vocals, Bass, Backing Vocals
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals (“The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall”, “An Ordinary Son”)
Jason Bonham – Drums, Percussion
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards

Producer: Kevin Shirley

Now this is how you do it! Black Country Communion is a band that is cranking out albums with old school pacing — only nine months have passed since they released their debut! How long will we have to wait until the third album?

In comparison to the self-titled debut, 2 is “more of the same” and that’s not a bad thing at all. The band continues with the same classic hard rock style from last year that makes use of blues-rock and a Led Zeppelin influence. Speaking of Led Zeppelin, the influence is even more apparent on 2 — Jason Bonham is pounding away just as his dad did and there are Middle Eastern influences sprinkled throughout thanks to the keyboards. If “I Can See Your Spirit” and “Save Me” aren’t worthy of being a Zeppelin songs I don’t know what is. In the case of “Save Me”,  it just so happens it’s the only song on the album that all four members of the band wrote together.

The Middle Eastern touches also remind me of early Rainbow and alternately there are times when Sherinian does a fine job of making you think you were listening to Deep Purple. But obviously these are all top notch musicians. Joe isn’t just a great blues guitarist, he’s a great ROCK guitarist, Jason is too good to have spent most of his life as a journeyman drummer, Derek shines on this album more so than on the debut and Glenn Hughes still hasn’t lost his touch. I know that Glenn can be an acquired taste but when the guy is singing no-frills hard rock such as this, I can’t see how you can’t be impressed. Definitely one of the best vocalists alive today.

Of course, it isn’t ALL classic rock. Joe Bonamassa has almost been on equal ground with Hughes when it comes to the songwriting in this band. On the songs that Joe actually sings, it really sounds a lot similar to his solo material. “The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall” and “An Ordinary Son” would’ve easily fit on his latest album Dust Bowl.

It’s being said that this album is a “grower” but I felt the original was that way too. It took me about 2-3 spins before I really got into this album but once I did I knew it was great. The album clocks in at sixty-four minutes with the songs averaging about six minutes a piece but it’s well worth the investment to take the time and listen.

Hughes was crowing about how much better this album was than the debut and that BCC now truly feels like a real band. Well, I agree BCC does feel like a real band now but I think the debut is slightly better. Still, this album receives a definite thumbs up from me and here’s hoping BCC continues on after this album/tour.

Highlights: “Man In The Middle”, “Save Me”, “Smokestack Woman”, “Faithless”, “I Can See Your Spirit”, “Cold”

http://www.bccommunion.com/
http://www.facebook.com/bccommunion

Order ‘2’ at Amazon.com!

Black Sabbath – Seventh Star [Deluxe Edition]

Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi – Seventh Star [Deluxe Edition] (2010, Universal Music/Sanctuary Records – UK Import)
Original Release: 1986, Warner Bros. Records

Disc One: Seventh Star
1. “In for the Kill” … 3:42
2. “No Stranger to Love” … 4:30
3. “Turn to Stone” … 3:29
4. “Sphinx (The Guardian)” … 1:11
5. “Seventh Star” … 5:21
6. “Danger Zone” … 4:27
7. “Heart Like a Wheel” … 6:37
8. “Angry Heart” … 3:07
9. “In Memory…” … 2:38
Bonus Track
10. “No Stranger To Love” (Single Remix) … 4:01

Disc Two: Live at Hammersmith Odeon
1. “Mob Rules” … 2:59
2. “Danger Zone” … 4:44
3. “War Pigs” … 8:11
4. “Seventh Star” … 5:03
5. “Die Young” … 3:58
6. “Black Sabbath” … 9:33
7. “N.I.B.” … 1:37
8. “Neon Knights” … 4:37
9. “Paranoid” … 3:29

Band:
Glenn Hughes – Vocals (Disc One)
Ray Gillen – Vocals (Disc Two)
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Dave Spitz – Bass
Eric Singer – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Gordon Copley – Bass (on “No Stranger to Love”)

Two of 2010’s most anticipated releases for me were the reissues of Black Sabbath’s Seventh Star and The Eternal Idol. The non-Ozzy/Dio years are criminally underrated. While these two albums had not previously been hard to find (they were reissued/remastered in 1996 and again in 2004 by Sanctuary), these expanded versions feature bonus tracks and an extra disc of goodies. Let me say again that the import prices for both of these discs is outrageous. About $30 a piece. So if anyone is interesting in getting these, I suggest going to Amazon UK’s page and ordering the albums straight from jolly old England. After S&H, it was only something like $23 U.S. dollars TOTAL and they arrived pretty quick too.

I won’t comment on the first disc too much. You can read my original review here. I’m a fan of it, the songs are still great. It’s a good bluesy and melodic rock/metal album. The only extra included on Disc One is the single remix of “No Stranger To Love”. Nothing essential, but nice to have, I guess.

Disc Two is the real draw here — a live performance at the Hammersmith Oden in London from June 2 1986 with Ray Gillen on vocals! I’m sure this show has been available in bootleg form for years because it was recorded for a radio broadcast. Ray took over Glenn’s spot in Sabbath after Glenn famously bombed on the tour’s first five shows due to his drug addictions at the time. For some reason or another, after the tour and after already putting down vocals for The Eternal Idol, Gillen left Sabbath. I know there are a few other Gillen shows floating around as bootlegs, but it’s nice to have an official documentation of his short time as the lead singer of Black Sabbath. Reading about this era, it seemed like a lot of people embraced Gillen’s short run and it seemed like maybe Sabbath could’ve even made a return to commercial and critical success but it was not meant to be and Ray formed the group Badlands. He certainly does a fine job with the Dio material.

The audio quality isn’t the best, it’s a radio show recording after all. It’s not like this is what you’d expect from a full-fledged live album, but it’s still an interesting and perfectly acceptable listen and this edition is essential for hardcore fans of the years that didn’t include Ozzy or Dio.

www.blacksabbath.com

Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion

Black Country Communion [CD/DVD Edition] (2010, J&R Adventures)

1. “Black Country” … 3:15
2. “One Last Soul” … 3:52
3. “The Great Divide” … 4:45
4. “Down Again” … 5:46
5. “Beggarman” … 4:52
6. “Song of Yesterday” … 8:33
7. “No Time” … 4:19
8. “Medusa” … 6:57
9. “The Revolution in Me” … 4:59
10. “Stand (At the Burning Tree)” … 7:02
11. “Sista Jane” … 6:55
12. “Too Late for the Sun” …. 11:21

Band:
Glenn Hughes – Lead Vocals, Bass, Backing Vocals
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Jason Bonham – Drums, Percussion
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards

Producer: Kevin Shirley

BCC is one of the year’s best surprises for me. I like Hughes, I like Bonham but even when I heard about this band getting together and it wasn’t anything for me to get excited over. I love Glenn Hughes’ voice but other than Deep Purple and the one Black Sabbath album he did, the music he’s been a part of has never really impressed me. Nothing terrible just nothing that stood out and with him fronting the band and seemingly the leader of the group as well, I was afraid BCC would venture into the “unremarkable” category.

Not so! As Hughes himself has said this album is a “traditional classic rock record with a modern twist”. I definitely agree. Many of these songs would sound right at home on your local classic rock radio station, other than the production, some of these songs you wouldn’t even be able to tell they were new! That’s a huge compliment in my opinion. BCC is a complete throwback to the hard working British bluesy hard rock bands of the ’70s, which isn’t a surprise considering the members. The only oddball seems to be Sherinian, who I am only familiar with through Dream Theater and the various session/touring work he has done. Didn’t realize a band like this would be his kind of thing.

Hughes sounds just as powerful as ever. His performance on “The Great Divide” is my favorite on this album. The production is great and gives off a nice meaty sound and the funk/blues influences you would expect from a Hughes/Bonamassa collaboration is all there. Despite Classic Rock magazine’s constant hype for Bonamassa, I’ve never listened to him. He’s primarily a blues artist but this guy can really rock out, he does a fantastic job all throughout the album and even handles lead vocals on “Song of Yesterday” (a classic rock epic if there ever was one) and “The Revolution In Me” while sharing vocals with Glenn on “Sista Jan” and “Too Late for the Sun”.

There’s no reason for anyone who is a classic rock fan to NOT own this album. The album is worth picking up for “One Last Soul” and “The Great Divide” alone. Unfortunately, at least as far as the mainstream and commercial outlets are concerned, this album has gone unnoticed in the States but has done pretty well in the UK. Easily another one of the year’s best albums and I’m glad Hughes has already stated he is working on album Number Two right now. Forget Chickenfoot, this is a “supergroup” that can actually turn in a great album!

I’m not sure if this is a “limited” edition or not but my copy from Amazon came with a DVD that features a music video, photos and interviews. It runs about 40 minutes, that’s a pretty good deal. Sometimes these DVDs that get thrown in are only 15-20 minutes of material. Truth be told, I haven’t watched it yet but because I like this album so much, I’ll probably pop in it in the DVD player soon.

Highlights: “Black Country”, “One Last Soul”, “The Great Divide”, “Down Again”, “Song of Yesterday”, “Sista Jane”, “Too Late for the Sun”

http://www.bccommunion.com/
http://www.facebook.com/bccommunion
http://www.myspace.com/bccommunion

Buy Black Country Communion (CD/DVD) at Amazon.com

HUGHES/THRALL – Hughes/Thrall

Hughes/Thrall – Hughes/Thrall (1982, Epic Records/Associated Records/Boulevard Records)

1. “I Got Your Number” … 3:37
2. “The Look In Your Eye” … 3:51
3. “Beg, Borrow Or Steal” … 3:47
4. “Where Did The Time Go” … 2:59
5. “Muscle And Blood” … 4:21
6. “Hold Out Your Life” … 4:47
7. “Who Will You Run To” … 3:43
8. “Coast To Coast” … 3:55
9. “First Step Of Love” … 5:35

Musicians:
Glenn Hughes – Vocals, Bass
Pat Thrall – Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer
Gary Ferguson – Drums
Frankie Banali – Drums
Gary Mallaber – Drums
Peter Schless – Keyboards

Producer: Andy Johns

I knew nothing of this album when I came across it online awhile ago. Seeing as how it was dirt cheap (I think I paid about $4.55 for it new) and was Glenn Hughes, I gave it a shot. I had no clue who Pat Thrall was, but that’s what the internet is for. Up to the point of this album, he had spent most of time playing in the Pat Travers Band (he would later go on to play in Asia and for Meatloaf) and from what I’m told is a very respected guitar player.

Enough of the history lesson. How is this collaborative effort? Well, um… It’s okay. It’s a very 1980s commercial rock album full of synthesizers. Every song sounds slick ‘n’ polished and ready for radio or a movie soundtrack. To my understanding, the album received positive reviews so I’m actually surprised this one went unnoticed commercially given how mainstream it is for that time frame.

I just don’t get it. What’s so good about this album? It isn’t awful but it’s just another slice of bland ’80s commercial rock/pop  to me. I love ’80s pop (I like listening to the “hits” at least), but nothing really sticks out on this one. If you think I’m contradicting myself from earlier when wondering why this album wasn’t successful, I’m not… There’s tons of bland songs from the ’80s that were all over radio!

More of a curiosity for Glenn Hughes fans than anything else.

Highlights: “I Got Your Number”, “The Look In Your Eye”, “Hold Out Your Life”

DEEP PURPLE – Burn

Deep Purple – Burn [30th Anniversary Edition – Remastered] (2005, Warner Bros. Records/Rhino Records/Purple Records)
Original Release: 1974, Warner Bros. Records

1. “Burn” … 6:00
2. “Might Just Take Your Life” … 4:36
3. “Lay Down, Stay Down” …4:15
4. “Sail Away” … 5:48
5. “You Fool No One” … 4:47
6. “What’s Goin’ on Here” … 4:55
7. “Mistreated” … 7:25
8. “”A” 200″ … 3:51
BONUS TRACKS
9. “Coronarias Redig” [2004 Remix] … 5:30
10. “Burn” [2004 Remix] … 6:00
11. “Mistreated” [2004 Remix] … 7:28
12. “You Fool No One” [2004 Remix] … 4:57
13. “Sail Away” [2004 Remix] … 5:37

Band:
David Coverdale – Lead Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – Guitar
Glenn Hughes – Bass, Lead Vocals
Ian Paice – Drums
Jon Lord – Keyboards

Producer: Deep Purple

Years ago, during a Columbia House or BMG Music binge, I ordered Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers and then I never bothered with another Purple album. I wasn’t overly impressed by the album at the time and I’ve always had this hang-up on Deep Purple that they were “too 70s” and too heavy on keyboards and organs and that’s just not my style of rock.

Well, years later I decided to give the band a chance again by picking up Burn featuring the Deep Purple debut of two of my favorite rock vocalists – David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. It didn’t hurt that I found this anniversary edition online, brand new, for only six bucks and some change.

Again, everything about this album screams 1970s. The keyboards, the album cover, the funky & bluesy bass lines. I should really hate this album but somehow, I like it. I don’t love it, but I like it a lot and its a real treat listening to Coverdale and Hughes share lead vocals. Coverdale didn’t play any instruments in the band, so I’ve always wondered how he felt about sharing vocals with a band member who is playing an instrument as well. Just seems like a weird deal to me, but it was the 70s after all!

This album began the end of Ritchie Blackmore’s involvement in the band he co-found as he hated the bluesy and funky direction Hughes and Coverdale were taking the group in. I will say this, this album features some GREAT performances by Coverdale. Just listen to “Mistreated”.

The remixes I guess are nice if you have a really good ear or sound system for that type of stuff. I don’t have either, but I appreciate the effort put into this package to make it something special. “Coronarias Redig” was a B-side and is a pretty cool funky jam. There’s a very comprehensive booklet as well that’s full pictures and talks about the history about the band during this time frame. I love it when reissues include retrospectives like that. It oughta be a law.

Highlights: “Burn”, “Might Just Take Your Life”, “Sail Away”, “You Fool No One”, “Mistreated”, “Coronarias Redig”

www.deeppurple.com
www.myspace.com/deeppurple

IOMMI – The 1996 DEP Sessions

Iommi with Glenn Hughes – The 1996 DEP Sessions (2004, Sanctuary Records)

1. “Gone” … 4:29
2. “From Another World” … 5:56
3. “Don’t You Tell Me” … 4:14
4. “Don’t Drag the River” … 4:34
5. “Fine” … 5:05
6. “Time Is the Healer” … 4:16
7. “I’m Not the Same Man” … 4:21
8. “It Falls Through Me” … 4:46

Musicians:
Glenn Hughes – Vocals, Bass
Tony Iommi – Lead Guitar
Jimmy Copley – Drums
Don Airey – Keyboards
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards
Mike Exeter – Keyboards

Producer: Tony Iommi

Being a huge fan of the previous Iommi/Hughes collaboration (Black Sabbath’s Seventh Star way back in 1986), I was pretty excited once I got around to ordering this album. I wasn’t expecting anything similar to that release (even though this album features three-fifths of the players on that album) because Seventh Star was a very ’80s sounding release, but I was hoping for something with a similar AOR quality.

Instead, The 1996 DEP Sessions gives us a slow burning, heavier and sometimes melancholy blues vibe. I had to listen to this album a number of times before I could even pick out a few songs I liked. I didn’t hate it when I first heard it, but nothing grabbed my attention. I would’ve preferred a few faster songs as most of this album seems to stomp and plod around.

The riffs are heavier, getting this Iommi/Hughes album closer to what people would expect from Black Sabbath and “Time Is the Healer” is about as close as you can get. On the other side of the coin, “It Falls Through Me” comes closest to Seventh Sign.

A little back story, as you could probably tell by the title this was not new music when released in 2004. The songs were recorded back in ’96 but the project was shelved once the Ozzy Sabbath reunion took off. The drums were re-recorded in 2004 by Jimmy Copley because original drummer Dave Holland (ex-Judas Priest) was convicted of attempted rape and several indecent acts with a mentally challenged teenage boy in that same year. Rightfully, Iommi and Hughes wanted to disassociate themselves from that piece of garbage. Before this release, bootlegs were available featuring Holland on the drums. The name of the bootleg? Eighth Star!

Overall, this is good album, but there’s nothing essential here so I would recommend it only to Sabbath and Hughes diehards.

Highlights: “From Another World”, “Don’t You Tell Me”, “Fine”, “Time Is the Healer”, “It Falls Through Me”

www.iommi.com
www.myspace.com/iommiofficial
www.glennhughes.com
www.myspace.com/glennhughesonline

BLACK SABBATH – Seventh Star

Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi – Seventh Star [Remastered] (2004, Sanctuary Midline – UK Import)
Original Release: 1986, Warner Bros. Records

1. “In for the Kill” (3:48)
2. “No Stranger to Love” (4:28)
3. “Turn to Stone” (3:28)
4. “Sphinx (The Guardian)” [instrumental] (1:12)
5. “Seventh Star” (5:20)
6. “Danger Zone” (4:26)
7. “Heart Like a Wheel” (6:36)
8. “Angry Heart” (3:06)
9. “In Memory…” (2:36)

Band:
Glenn Hughes – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Dave “The Beast” Spitz – Bass
Eric Singer – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Gordon Copley – Bass (“No Stranger to Love”)

Produced by: Jeff Glixman

I usually don’t mess with imports because there’s usually a high cost involved, but at $14 and some change, how could I resist owning one of my favorite Sabbath albums when all I had before was a bootleg?

Everyone knows the story of Iommi originally intending this for a solo album and the label forcing him to slap the Black Sabbath name on the cover, thus giving us the added “featuring Tony Iommi” bit as a compromise between Iommi and Warner Bros. In fact, some Sabbath fans refuse to even recognize this as an official Sabbath release. Whatever helps you sleep at night. I don’t have any real connection or affinity for the Ozzy era, so I’m able to accept this album as another quality release in the Black Sabbath catalog, regardless of Iommi’s intentions. In fact, I’ll happily take any non-Ozzy Black Sabbath album, thank you very much. The band delivered all the way up until they dumped Tony Martin in favor of the Ozzy reunion.

Some more back story on this album: Glenn Hughes was not the initial choice to sing… or was he? Jeff Fenholt (who later became an evangelist and hosted programs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network) claims he was a member of Black Sabbath the first half of 1985. Tony Iommi has disputed this claim saying Fenholt was “trying out” for his solo project. Reportedly, Iommi says Fenholt didn’t get the job because he couldn’t come up with any decent lyrics, but Jeff blames his exit/not being hired on arguments with then Black Sabbath manager Don Arden. Eric Singer backs up Iommi’s side of the story. Either way, there is a bootleg of demos floating around titled Star of India featuring Fenholt on vocals and the rest of the Seventh Star line-up playing the songs that would later evolve into Seventh Star.

Seventh Star is right up there as one of my favorite Black Sabbath albums. I love Glenn Hughes’ voice and as I said before I’m not bothered by the change in style. The sound here is influenced greatly by the blues and the L.A. metal scene at the time and it’s working for me. There’s not too many uptempo songs, but given Hughes’ soulful it all works out on songs like “Heart Like a Wheel”, “Angry Heart” and “In Memory…”.

It’s unfortunate Iommi & Black Sabbath seemed so cursed in the ’80s: only a handful of shows into the Seventh Star tour, Hughes was fired due to extremely poor performances (the side effects of a nasty drug habit). Future Badlands vocalist Ray Gillen stepped in and finished up the tour.

All told, this is a pretty impressive Sabbath lineup. Eric Singer would later go on to play in Badlands, KISS and with Alice Cooper, Dave Spitz (brother of ex-Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz) has worked with Lita Ford, Great White, Nuclear Assault and White Lion and then of course, we have Geoff Nicholls getting his first official credit as a Black Sabbath member!

Highlights: All of it.

www.blacksabbath.com
www.heavenandhelllive.com
www.myspace.com/heavenandhelllive
www.glennhughes.com
www.myspace.com/glennhughesonline

Buy SEVENTH STAR at Amazon.com

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