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Black Sabbath – 13 [Review]

Black Sabbath – 13 [Best Buy Deluxe Edition]
2013, Republic Records

Disc 1
1. “End of the Beginning” 8:05
2. “God Is Dead?” 8:52
3. “Loner” 4:59
4. “Zeitgeist” 4:37
5. “Age of Reason” 7:01
6. “Live Forever” 4:46
7. “Damaged Soul” 7:51
8. “Dear Father”

Disc 2
1. “Methademic” 5:57
2. “Peace of Mind” 3:40
3. “Pariah” 5:34
4. “Naïveté in Black”

Band:
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals, Harmonica
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass

Additional Musicians:
Brad Wilk – Drums

Produced by Rick Rubin

I won’t get into all of the stats and figures but it’s been a long time since these guys have played on an album together as Black Sabbath. It’s just a shame they couldn’t work out something with Bill Ward in order to do a TRUE reunion album/tour.

Still, this is a very important time in the band’s history. Though I’m not an Ozzy fan, I can still agree that this is a monumental occasion, so I’ll give my thoughts track-by-track:

  • “End of the Beginning” – This one starts off like something from The Devil You Know with a heavy, slow and doomy vibe. It picks up later in the song but at 8 minutes, it’s not how I would’ve chosen to kick off the album.
  • “God Is Dead?” – I can’t hear some of the guitar parts in this song without thinking of Weezer’s “Undone – The Sweater Song”. I can’t be the only one that hears that, can I? We’re now only two tracks into the album but sitting 17 minutes! Again, I question the track listing. Decent song but like most of the world, my socks weren’t knocked off when I heard this.
  • “Loner” – Finally the speed is picking up a bit and look — this song is only 5 minutes long! We even get an “Alright now!” from Ozzy.
  • “Zeitgeist” – Essentially this is “Planet Caravan, Part II”. If you had told me this was either a Pink Floyd song or recorded by Sabbath in the mid-70s, I’d believe you. It’s a good song but I’m a bit disappointed they basically tried to recreate something they’d previously written. Seems a bit lazy to me. But hey, they aren’t the first band to ever do that.
  • “Age of Reason” – Love the drums here (sorry, Bill!). One of the first songs from this album that grabbed me immediately.
  • “Live Forever” – Another much-need slightly more up-tempo number.
  • “Damaged Soul” – Ugh. Another 8 minute track. Fuzzy 1970s stoner vibe. Another track that really sounds like something the band recorded “back in the day”.
  • “Dear Father” – Probably feeling this song the least of all on the album.

That finishes up the proper album, now onto the deluxe edition tracks:

  • “Methademic” – Shame this one was relegated to being on the deluxe edition!
  • “Peace of Mind” – I know ’70s Sabbath when I hear it. This is it.
  • “Pariah” – Another good rocker. Has a cool melodic opening.
  • “Naïveté in Black” – Exclusive to the Best Buy edition of the deluxe album. The fastest song out of both discs. Why didn’t they write more songs like these? Kinda reminds me of modern day Metallica.

Disc 2 is very strong. The songs are a bit faster and much shorter. Disc 1 has its moments but it’s just too slow and time-consuming for its own good. Surely we could’ve swapped out “God Is Dead?”, “Damaged Soul”, and/or “Dear Father” for any of these four tracks! It’s a strange choice for them to include so many slow and plodding 7-9 minute epics on the album when they had some very good 4-5 minute rockers being released as bonus content.

13 is going over well with the Ozzy fans and I can see why. It’s definitely got that old-school Sabbath vibe to it that should be pleasing to those that prefer the band’s Ozzy years. Being someone who isn’t an Ozzy fan, I can admit that this is certainly a good album, possibly will make my Top 10 for the year, but I don’t think it’s great and it’s probably not something I’ll ever listen to much again. I can’t imagine thinking, “Man, I really need to hear that 9 minute song Black Sabbath wrote back in 2013!”

Highlights: “The End of the Beginning”, “Loner”, “Zeitgeist”, “Age of Reason”, “Live Forever”, “Methademic”, “Peace of Mind”, “Pariah”, “Naïveté in Black”

http://www.blacksabbath.com
http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Book Review – RAT SALAD: Black Sabbath, The Classic Years 1969 – 1975

Rat Salad: Black Sabbath, The Classic Years, 1969 – 1975
(2006, St. Martin’s Press)
By Paul Wilkinson

Here is a short review for a book I had considered buying on and off for years. While I have read a number of Black Sabbath books, I held off on this for awhile because it focuses on the Ozzy era up through 1975 and it’s well-known that I prefer the likes of Ronnie James Dio & Tony Martin over Ozzy Osbourne’s tenure. Still, when I found out it was available from the local library, I checked it out and gave it a shot.

To be honest, I got about 80 pages into this 240 page book before I decided to walk away from it. I am a huge Sabbath fan but you not only need to be a major Ozzy-era fan but also a musician to really get the most out of this book. All the talk about C sharp, E minor or whatever is absolutely boring to me. I am not a musician, so that detailed information means nothing to my brain. I read a review that stated this book is like a text book, in some ways, I agree.

In addition to that, the author tries to interject his own personal history into the book. I found this to be quite odd and it really disrupts the flow of the book whenever he delves into his personal life. If he wants to talk about how Sabbath affected his teenage years, fine, but I don’t care to learn about his school days, his best friends or first kiss. It’s really out of place and the author comes off as a self-important snob but then I guess most of us music critics are exactly that.

Bottom line: if you love the early years of Black Sabbath AND are a musician, you’ll probably like the book a lot. For those of us that like to listen but can’t play a note, there are much better books on Black Sabbath out there.

Buy ‘Rat Salad’ at Amazon.com

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Who Cares (Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi & Friends) – Out Of My Mind / Holy Water

Who Cares (Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi & Friends) – Out Of My Mind / Holy Water (2011, earMUSIC/Eagle Rock Records)

1. “Out of My Mind” … 5:19
2. “Holy Water” … 7:00

Band:
Ian Gillan – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Linde Lindstrom – Guitar
Jason Newsted – Bass
Nicko McBrain – Drums
Jon Lord – Keyboards

How’s THIS for a super group: Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, Iron Maiden’s Nick McBrain, ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, ex-Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord and HIM’s Linde Lindstrom! Well, um, nothing against Lindstrom but, wow, he feels a bit out of place doesn’t he? I think his connection is he’s either dating or married to Iommi’s daughter.

Who Cares was initially a project put together by Gillan & Iommi to help benefit the rebuilding of a music school in Armenia but there was always the vague promise that Gillan & Iommi would continue to work together on some new material. I imagine with a reunited Black Sabbath that won’t be happening… ever (Sabbath will probably take up the next few years and these guys are old enough already). Shame. I’d much rather hear a Iommi & Gillan record (Geezer can tag along too) than a new Sabbath album with Ozzy.

Initially released as a digital single, the album has been made available on 7″ vinyl (limited to only 1,000 copies) and as a deluxe CD single featuring a video clip and a 30 minute documentary.

Despite being a one-off super-group that implied Tony & Ian might continue to work together, Who Cares went a bit under the radar, I think. Yes, it was done for charity so it’s not like there was any huge label or promotion backing this but given the talent involved I would have expected more buzz from the rock/metal community.  The songs are just phenomenal and while I haven’t heard any of Gillan’s recent work with Deep Purple, the guy can still sing and scream like a rock ‘n’ roll god (even if his voice is a tad bit weathered, but at 66 years old, I’ll give him a break).

“Out of My Mind” is just plain heavy. Not Born Again heavy, but still heavy nonetheless, stomping along and sounding Black Sabbath & Deep Purple put in a blender: Iommi pulling out a great riff and solo, Gillan singing with venom and Jon Lord doing what he does best. Musically, it’s really not too far off from what we might’ve heard from Heaven & Hell.

“Holy Water” is a bit more majestic in scope with a taste of the Middle East. I’m not all that well-versed on Deep Purple with Steve Morse but from what I have heard, this sounds like the type of song you might hear from them as Jon Lord’s keyboard factors heavily into this track and Gillan is a bit more subdued.

Who Cares was put together for a great cause and features great music so it’s definitely worth buying. It also shows us what a great pairing Gillan & Iommi can still be and hopefully we can get some more music of out this duo in the future.

Amazon.com

Black Sabbath – Mob Rules [Deluxe Edition]

Black Sabbath – Mob Rules [Deluxe Edition] (2010, Universal Music/Sanctuary Records – UK Import)
Original Release: 1981, Warner Bros. Records

Disc One: Mob Rules
1. Turn Up the Night … 3:42
2. Voodoo … 4:32
3. The Sign of the Southern Cross … 7:44
4. E5150 … 2:54
5. The Mob Rules … 3:15
6. Country Girl … 4:02
7. Slipping Away … 3:42
8. Falling Off the Edge of the World … 5:03
9. Over and Over … 5:28
Bonus Tracks
10. Die Young (Live – 12″ Single B-Side) … 4:04
11. The Mob Rules (Heavy Metal Soundtrack Version) … 3:14

Disc Two: Live at Hammersmith
1. E5150 … 1:18
2. Neon Knights … 4:37
3. N.I.B. … 5:16
4. Children of the Sea … 6:07
5. Country Girl … 3:53
6. Black Sabbath … 8:24
7. War Pigs … 7:40
8. Slipping Away … 3:18
9 Iron Man … 7:04
10. The Mob Rules … 3:35
11. Heaven and Hell … 14:24
12. Paranoid … 3:21
13. Voodoo … 5:45
14. Children of the Grave … 5:05

Mob Rules is an album I’ve spoken about before. That review was very brief, but really, what can you say? Looking back, it’s not my favorite of the Dio era (that nod would go to Heaven and Hell) but it’s still a classic that’s almost as good as the first album they did together. In addition to the original album of Mob Rules, Disc 1 features two bonus tracks: the original version of “The Mob Rules” (which was recorded for the Heavy Metal movie) and a live version of Heaven and Hell‘s “Die Young”.

The real pull for me getting this Deluxe Edition was to get the second disc which features performances taken from Dec 31, 1981 through January 2, 1982 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. This entire disc was originally released as Live at Hammersmith Oden by Rhino Records with an extremely limited print run of 5,000 copies back in 2007. As you can imagine, copies of that album are expensive and hard to come by so it’s great to now have the entire album included as a bonus disc.

If you don’t already own Mob Rules, or even if you do, this is still worth the pick up just for Disc 2. The band is in top form but then again, the Dio line-up was never not in top form! There are four live albums to choose from this particular Sabbath line-up (two as Black Sabbath, two as Heaven & Hell) and all of them are classics but if you want to hear this group in their formative years with a recording that takes places even before Live Evil, here’s your chance! Great studio album, great live disc = great deluxe edition!

http://heavenandhelllive.com/
http://www.blacksabbath.com
http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath

Amazon.com

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

Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition] (2011, EMI Records – UK Import)
Original Release: 1992, Reprise Records

Disc One
1. “Computer God” … 6:10
2. “After All (The Dead)” … 5:37
3. “TV Crimes” … 3:58
4. “Letters from Earth” … 4:12
5. “Master of Insanity” … 5:54
6. “Time Machine” … 4:10
7. “Sins of the Father” … 4:43
8. “Too Late” … 6:54
9. “I” … 5:10
10. “Buried Alive” … 4:47

Disc Two
1. “Master Of Insanity” (Radio Edit) … 4:08
2. “Letters From Earth” (B-Side Version) … 4:42
3. “Time Machine” (Wayne’s World Version) … 4:18
4. “Children Of The Sea” (live) … 6:23
5. “Die Young” (live) … 2:16
6. “TV Crimes” (live) … 4:23
7. “Master Of Insanity” (live) … 7:39
8. “Neon Knights” (live) … 5:34

Band:
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Produced by: Reinhold Mack

Yet another Black Sabbath deluxe edition release and yet again, it was a must have when I learned of its upcoming release. Dehumanizer is one of Sabbath’s best albums (for my original album review, click here) so it’s great to see it getting remastered and an extra disc of goodies.

Compared to the extras on the deluxe editions of Seventh Star and The Eternal Idol though this collection falls a bit short. The first three tracks on Disc Two are merely alternate versions of the songs from the album. While I don’t think the radio edit of “Master Of Insanity” or the B-side version of “Letters From Earth” have appeared on disc before (I may be wrong), the Wayne’s World take of “Time Machine” was on the original release of Dehumanizer. Here, it’s now considered a bonus track.

Nonetheless, what really interested me with this reissue were the five live tracks. All were taken from a show on July 25, 1992 at the Sundome in Tampa, Florida. I mean, it’s Sabbath live. You really can’t go wrong, especially with Ronnie on the vocals. I don’t think this would be an essential pick up for most Sabbath fans, but for the hardcore fans of Dio/Dehumanizer, it’s a good purchase. You get the typical nice packaging that comes with these deluxe editions, a booklet featuring some backstory to the reunion with Dio, plus the extra disc of bonus tracks.

www.blacksabbath.com

Buy the Deluxe Edition at Amazon.com

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

Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell – Live In Europe

Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell – Live In Europe (2010, Eagle Rock Entertainment/Armoury Records)

1. “The Mob Rules” … 3:47
2. “Children of the Sea” … 6:31
3. “I” … 6:17
4. “Bible Black” … 6:30
5. “Time Machine” … 4:40
6. “Fear” … 4:36
7. “Falling Off the Edge of the World” … 5:40
8. “Follow the Tears” … 6:12
9. “Die Young” … 6:42
10. “Heaven and Hell” … 17:49
11. “Neon Knights” … 5:45

Band:
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Scott Warren – Keyboards

Recorded on July 30, 2009 at the Wacken Open Air festival.

This is one of those albums that has so many titles, it makes you wonder what the real name of the album is. Neon Nights for sure, but anything after that appears to be up for grabs. It becomes even more confusing when you consider the sub-subtitle (“sub-subtitle”?) of Live In Europe is replaced with Live At Wacken for the European release.

If Dio was alive today, I suppose you’d be hearing a number of groans about yet another live album from these guys. This is the third live album they’ve released either as Black Sabbath or Heaven & Hell since 2007 (and fourth total), but given that the great Ronnie James is no longer with us and this album stands to document what came to be the band’s final tour, I think most Dio fans will give this album a warm embrace. It holds a lot of sentimental value for fans I think and Neon Nights does well to hold up the legacy this group started in 1980.

Right up to (and during!) the discovery of cancer, Ronnie was a phenomenal vocalist. For the most part on this album, he sounds just like he always has though with age his voice has gotten a bit gruffer. He’s was still sounding great, still hitting the notes and singing better than almost anyone else around though. Tony is playing great as well. For a guy that never seems to move around much on stage, it’s amazing to hear how fast he can fire off the notes. Even Geezer gets to stretch his fingers during “Heaven and Hell”. That almost makes me wish I did have the DVD, I’ve always enjoyed watching him play bass.

If you’re a big Dio fan, you’re probably going to get this disc no matter what. We all know what to expect from these guys in the studio and on stage and this is good album to close out the chapter of Heaven & Hell. They don’t put on bad shows and they get to show off just how good they can be on the epic 17 minute plus version of “Heaven and Hell”. You just can’t go wrong with these guys in concert.

A DVD version of this show was released simultaneously and features “E5150” and also “Country Girl”. Would’ve been nice to have those two extra tracks and the DVD was only $1 more than the CD but I just don’t have much use for live DVDs compared to CDs.

Highlights: “The Mob Rules”, “I”, “Die Young”, “Heaven and Hell”, “Neon Knights”

www.heavenandhelllive.com
www.myspace.com/heavenandhellmusic

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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