REVIEW: Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (deluxe edition)

I’m addicted to buying these deluxe editions, and I’ll be doing more Sabbath in the coming days! Check out more of my Sabbath deluxe reviews by clicking here!

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BLACK SABBATH – Black Sabbath (2009 deluxe edition)

I have been a little slow reviewing all my Sabbath deluxe editions. I got this one for Christmas, 2010. Bad LeBrain!

What can I say? The most iconic metal album of all time has been given the deluxe edition treatment, and deservedly so.

First of all, before I talk about the music, this edition just looks beautiful in its digipack. The scariest most haunting album cover of all time is printed crisply on cardboard and it looks amazing. Open it up to find photos of a hippy-dippy looking Black Sabbath, just a bunch of kids. The booklet inside has truly great liner notes and more photos of the young foursome. There is one photo of Oz playing keyboards in the studio — strange, none of his keys show up on this album. I’d love to know the story behind that photo.

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Musically, of course this album is incredible. Simple, sparse, raw, and haunting. This is the kind of music that can only be made by four guys psychically locked-in with each other, knowing what notes are coming next, anticipating them and reacting to them. Bill Ward’s drumming is thrifty and wonderful, perfectly off-time and magically working with Geezer Butler’s fluidic basslines. Geezer’s bass, in turn, is locked in with Iommi’s guitar, providing melodic accents while Tony plays the rock solid demonic riffs from hell. Meanwhile, Ozzy is on top of it all, a man possessed, his words ringing loud and powerfully along within the spaces of the songs. This is the kind of album that can only be created by four guys playing live in a room together. Modern “rock” (quotes intended) bands cannot do this kind of album.

Every song is, of course, a classic, from the opening thunder of “Black Sabbath” to the wallowing solos of “Warning” and the haunting “Sleeping Village”. “N.I.B.” has one of the catchiest bass intros of all time, amp hum buzzing away in the background as you can hear Geezer’s fingers pluck away. Truly, a classic album, all killer no filler.

And no wonder. The band was tight, playing these songs night after night after night until they had them down pat. I once read that Sabbath were doing 8 sets, 45 minutes each, in the bars each gig. That makes you a tight band, and the bonus disc proves this. Alternate takes of key tracks on the second disc prove that the band had these songs down to a fine science. Casual fans won’t even be able to pick up on the differences, they are so tight. The biggest difference is in the alternate take of “Evil Woman”. Flutes? Methinks Tony still had a bit too much Jethro Tull in his system!

There are also some instrumentals with the vocal tracks stripped off. These are interesting from an analytical point of view. The title track really allows you to hear the instruments playing against each other, Tony’s guitar puking mounds of distortion all over the tapes.

Lastly you get both “Wicked World” and “Evil Woman”. Depending on where you lived, one track was subbed for the other on the original album and the first CD issues. All later remasters of this album contained both songs, including this one.

Interestingly, the demos that Ozzy released on his own Ozzman Cometh compilation are not included here. Pick that album up as well for some very rough early versions of some of these tracks, with different lyrics as well.

5/5 stars. Every metal fan in the world needs this album, absolutely no excuses.

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13 comments

  1. No home should be without this album! Wasn’t this recorded in two days or something? Amazing. There’s a lot more of the Blues on this than in the subsequent albums which makes it fascinating. I really love Ozzy’s sludgy, slurred voice on tracks like Behind the Wall of Sleep.

    I’ve got the vinyl edition of this, which is gorgeous, but I think I’d still like to get the CD version at some point too.

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    1. I may be wrong, but without referring to the liner notes, I think they recorded this in 8 hours. Paranoid may have been 2 days!

      They definitely still had a lot of the blues in them. They were originally a blues band after all! This is great to have on vinyl, if only for the cover. I love this cover, always have, always will. It just defines horror to me.

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      1. Oh wow, that’s right! 8 hours! Hahahaha I guess they’ve recouped the studio costs by now then? And 2 days for Paranoid!? Bloody hell.

        It’s great to have on vinyl just for the cover. Absolutely iconic. I’d love to go to the place it was shot… I could stand around looking all creepy.

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        1. I would love to do the same thing. Also want to go to Headless Cross, just to say I’ve been there. Take a picture of the sign that says Headless Cross, stuff like that.

          What is incredible to me about Black Sabbath is this: 8 hours recording, right? And yet it sounds better than Chinese Democracy which took 11 years.

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        2. I’m going to have to check a map and see where these places are! Maybe I could do an HMO tour of album locations hahaha

          Not just GnR even Sabbath spent ages recording albums that didn’t sound as good!

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  2. I didn’t realize there was even a deluxe edition of this album. I’m usually picky with my deluxe edition purchases, but if I ever come across this at the right price it seems like a no-brainer. As HMO wrote above, every music fan should have this album in some form, not just metal lovers. I still believe the title track is the heaviest thing ever recorded, and considering the budget and recording equipment available at the time, it’s even more astounding.

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  3. I would argue that, really, no home should ever be without the first four Sabbath albums. Just… there’s not even any negotiation. Own them. Play them. Love them.

    I had no idea that this was made in such a short time. Damn. Daaaaaaaamn!

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    1. Indeed! The first four are essential, although I would go as far as to include the first six — Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage are just as good for my money. I love all six of them. It was only after Sabotage that I think they started to falter a teeny tiny bit.

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