So let’s start at the beginning here, in the past few years the mighty Sab in conjunction with the wizard that is Steven Wilson (Ex Porcupine Tree and so much more) who has been working on the remix with them here is his latest. What you get in this package is the usual fair remix, extra tracks live stuff, and lots of ephemera. What the most important part of this whole package is the music. First released in 1976, the year punk broke. Whilst the heady days of Progressive rock become just another musical memory. The Era of bloated-over-produced albums and massive stadium tours seems to be over. Tony Iommi and the boys I feel could see what was on the horizon and with rifts appearing in the band after a very grueling Sabotage tour. The excess of a hard drug-fueled creative process, money, and fame taking its toll. The boys ventured into Criteria Studio and set forth to make a vastly polarizing album. Reaching 13 on the British album charts. Nowhere the dizzying heights of the previous albums, this album is littered with what some Sabbath fans consider their weakest material to thus far. Here I disagree with the crowd, the album is yes eclectic and yes it’s not as heavy as previous works. But what this album shows to the world is that 4 men from one of the poorest parts of post-war England can make subtle varied music that is not just hard and heavy but subtle and educated. For me, this is their White album.
Before you start shouting and sending me nasty emails think of it like this where the Beatles were getting bored with the sound they were producing as I feel the boys were here. It’s very easy to plow a riff so hard that it takes your head off. As a wise man once said you just turn it up to 11. So I urge you to sit back and take in the glorious remix that Mr. Wilson has produced. I am not going to change some of the diehard Sab fans on this one but for any on the fence or new to the band then this might help. In its 39 minutes running time you get an interesting plethora of styles and influences from good old rock n roll Back Street Kids and Rock N Roll Doctor. Some 60’s sounding pop with it’s all right. And can only be described as Progressive in Gypsy. (Tony Iommi had a stint all be it fleeting with Jethro Tull) So as you can see it has something for everyone. Yes, it’s not bone-crunching but still in whatever version you decide you like and I like both original and remix versions. There is something for you, I myself love the very bluesy drawl of Dirty Woman it remains one of my favorite Iommi solos. The rest of the band is very present on this record Bill Ward’s splashy drums on All Moving Parts. Ozzy Osbourne’s inflection is echoes of the past and foreshadowing of styles yet to come. And as ever Geezer Butler is the perfect foil for Tony and Bill. His fluid and sumptuous funky growling bass are pervasive throughout.
In Summing up it’s a daring album that was made in troubling times both musically and politically in the UK and in parts it shows. But without this, I feel they would just have faded into one-trick pony territory. They needed this more than we needed it. So EMBRACE Change and enjoy the most eclectic album of the Might Sabbath.
Black Sabbath: Facebook
Release Year: 2021
Reviewed by Tony Evans