For the past decade, it’s felt as if Black Sabbath have ignored their post-Ozzy legacy. Although the first six albums with Osbourne will always represent their most career defining work, there’s no getting around the fact that 1980’s ‘Heaven & Hell’ and the following year’s ‘Mob Rules’ – both recorded with vocal powerhouse Ronnie James Dio – are often cited among fan favourites.
Both albums were issued as 2CD deluxe editions back in 2010, but have been out of print for some time. A reissue of those sets would have been welcomed, but two new editions – release date 5/3/21 – offer the bulk of that material with some.variation.
Black Sabbath’s first two albums celebrated their 50th anniversaries this year. Half a century of anything at all is an important milestone, but for these albums – genre defining classics, both – their fifty years seemed more important than most. Barely a week goes by when, as metal fans, we don’t hear something from a new doom or stoner band that owes almost everything to the foundations built by the band back in 1970.
In September 2020, Zakk Sabbath released their long-awaited ‘Vertigo’ album, on which legendary guitarist Zakk Wylde and friends recreated the Black Sabbath debut as faithfully as possible. Everything was well played, but with the band taking such a traditional stance, there were moments where you’d wonder why you’d ever choose to listen to it over the original recording. There were a couple of tracks of great interest, however, such as ‘Wicked World’ where the band loosened their grip on self-imposed authenticity and added more of their own flair and ‘N.I.B.’ which proved that Zakk Wylde plus and indestructible riff will often result in something great. The album was well received by fans, and despite any misgivings about long-term interest, it was important that the band got a studio recording under their collective belt after working the live circuit for so many years.
Black Sabbath’s debut LP turned 50 years old in February 2020. The band did not release an expensive box set to mark the occasion (they left that for the October anniversary of ‘Paranoid’, where the 5LP reissue was prohibitively expensive and the CD box set was just a quick repackaging of the 40th anniversary edition). There wasn’t even a notable vinyl reissue of the seminal debut recording – but to be fair, as welcomed as that would have been, no vinyl pressings sound anywhere near as good as the original Vertigo spiral label edition. Instead, fans and press were invited in limited numbers to go to a pre-arranged location in London and listen to the album in pitch darkness.