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Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol [Deluxe Edition]

Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol [Deluxe Edition] (2010, Universal Music/Sanctuary Records – UK Import)
Original Release: 1987, Warner Bros. Records

Disc One
1. “The Shining” … 5:59
2. “Ancient Warrior” … 5:28
3. “Hard Life to Love” … 5:00
4. “Glory Ride” … 4:49
5. “Born to Lose” … 3:43
6. “Nightmare” … 5:19
7. “Scarlet Pimpernel” … 2:05
8. “Lost Forever” … 4:03
9. “Eternal Idol” … 6:33
Bonus Tracks
10. “Black Moon” … 3:38
11. “Some Kind of Woman” … 3:15

Disc Two
1. “Glory Ride” … 5:21
2. “Born to Lose” … 3:41
3. “Lost Forever” … 4:17
4. “Eternal Idol” … 6:48
5. “The Shining” … 6:30
6. “Hard Life to Love” … 5:20
7. “Nightmare” … 4:49
8. “Ancient Warrior” … 4:54

Band:
Tony Martin – Vocals (Disc One)
Ray Gillen – Vocals (Disc Two)
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Dave Spitz – Bass (Credited, does not appear)
Bob Daisley – Bass
Eric Singer – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Bev Bevan – Percussion

I’m such a freak about the non-Ozzy/Dio years that along with the Seventh Star reissue, this was one of 2010’s most anticipated releases for me. Now they really need to give Born Again and Headless Cross the deluxe treatment as well. If you want my thoughts on the original album, check it out here. Included with the original album are two bonus tracks that were included on “The Shining” single as B-sides: “Black Moon” and “Some Kind of Woman”. “Black Moon” later appeared as a track on Headless Cross but in a different key. So having an alternate take of “Black Moon” and now having “Some Kind of Woman” was a pretty big deal to me. Just for the sake of being a completist.

As with the Seventh Star reissue, the main course in my opinion is the second disc. But there’s no live concert, this time it’s the complete album as it was originally recorded with Ray Gillen (though it is not what would have been the final mix). I’m not sure how Sabbath fans felt at the time, but when I read about Gillen’s short time as Sabbath’s singer from other reviews and whatnot, it seems like a lot of hope and promise rested on Ray’s shoulder as if he singled-handedly could lead Sabbath back to the Promise Land. Did he hold the key to the band becoming a respected and legit group once again? I don’t particularly think so. I think people are fantasizing. They see that the band didn’t work so well commercially with Martin, so they say “oh, if they stuck with Ray they could’ve done so much better”. Plus, I think another reason people embellish with it comes to Gillen is because he died so young. Now I’m not knocking Ray Gillen at all. He’s a great singer but I just don’t think he could’ve ushered in some great new era for Sabbath any better than Martin tried to do.

Let’s be honest, Sabbath was a mess for most of the ’80s and into the early ’90s. While, musically, Iommi was certainly the band’s driving force, I don’t think he was a very good band leader. He was a bit too laid back and seemingly almost shy. That could’ve been countered if the band had great management, but they didn’t. So what you ended up with was poorly promoted and misguided albums & tours along with constant personnel changes. It’s amazing they were able to put out the quality music that they did, even if it wasn’t the evil doom ‘n’ gloom old school Sabbath fans wanted to hear. So yeah — Ray wouldn’t have changed any of that.

What Gillen did do was turn in a great performance live and in the studio. You certainly can’t knock his singing. Whereas Tony Martin had similarities to Dio, Gillen has a bit of a higher register, sounding much more like what I would expect from an ’80s metal singer. Maybe it’s just because I’m more familiar with him or because he does sound more like one of my favorite singers but I still prefer the Martin version over Gillen’s.

If you refuse to believe Sabbath ever did anything worthwhile without Ozzy or Ronnie, well, this reissue isn’t going to change your opinion. But that’s okay because this reissue isn’t meant for you anyway. It’s meant for all of us who can enjoy Sabbath’s later offerings and for us fans, I think this reissue is an important album to own.

www.blacksabbath.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

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