REVIEW: Black Sabbath – Mob Rules (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 – Mob Rules (2010 deluxe edition)

The entire Dio-era catalogue of Sabbath has now been reissued so many bloody times! First there was the original CD issues, then the Castle remasters in 1996, then the Dio years boxed set (The Rules of Hell), and now these deluxe editions. I’m feeling lightly pillaged. But buying these is optional…unless you’re a die-hard like me. If you’re not, stick to the Dio box. If you are a die-hard, plunge forward.

The big reason to buy this set is the Live at Hammersmith Odeon bonus disc. Folks, when Rhino announced this live album in 2007, I jumped on it immediately. The CD sold out immediately, only 5000 copies were ever made.  Limited and numbered (I got #3723), even if it sucked it was bound to be worth a fortune in the future right? Well not necessarily. Now it’s been included as a bonus disc. (It’s also seen a vinyl reissue.)  So, for me this sucks — my Rhino issue is no longer as desirable to collectors. For you, it’s awesome. Now you can have this blistering live album, way better than Live Evil!

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All the other expected perks are here, including bonus tracks:  the soundtrack version of the title track, and a B-side (“Die Young”, live) from a 12″ single.  It also has extensive liner notes that cover the recording, the tour, and the Hammersmith disc. Throw in some photos and a great remastering job, and you have (hopefully!) the last copy of Mob Rules that you will ever need to buy.

Mob Rules itself is very much a brother record to Heaven and Hell. You have that big dramatic epic (“The Sign of the Southern Cross”), the speedy opener (“Turn Up The Night”) and everything else in between (“Voodoo”). It’s not quite up to the lofty standards of H&H, although it does follow the blueprint quite closely. I find the closer (“Over & Over”) to be the weak link in an otherwise pretty damn strong chain.

I think the title track, “The Mob Rules”, is probably one of the greatest heavy metal songs ever written.  Furiously paced, with Dio’s pipes in fine form, it an energized trip.  “The Sign of the Southern Cross” is, as far as I’m concerned, pretty much an equal track to “Heaven and Hell”.  Its riff is simply earth-shattering.  Once again, Dio’s pipes are unequaled.

Even something like “Country Girl”, a lesser known track, blows me away.  Iommi pulls another memorably powerful riff out of his bag of tricks, while Ronnie wails away…about what, I’m not sure.  But it sure is fun to sing along.  “Slipping Away” is another personal favourite due to Geezer’s fluidic bass solos.  “Falling Off the Edge of the World” smokes, another fast Iommi riff that bores its way into the brain.  You’ll be exhausted by the end of it.  Really, the only mis-step is the album closer, “Over and Over”, which I find a bit too dull and slow for an album as great as Mob Rules.

Pick it up to help complete your Sabbath collection, and to hear the awesome Live At Hammersmith Odeon.

5/5 stars

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60 comments

  1. It was this album that convinced a young me that I knew Black Sabbath. Ozzy who?
    I was wrong about knowing Black Sabbath, but this album was SO much fun!

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      1. Hahaha I wasn’t even thinking to ask! Funny, I went off on how everyone should have the first 4 records (you said 6, and I could see that point, too!), but right now I have Black Sabbath and Master Of Reality on CD, and Paranoid on vinyl, and that Hits set 1970-1978. That’s it, I don’t have any others. I have owned Volume 4 in the past, though. I think someone borrowed it at some point and I never got it back. Wish I knew who, but it could have been in any of three provinces so… yeah, it’s gone.

        I do have a search list, though, and all the Sabs I don’t have are on there (and it’s a lot as I only have the 3 albums and one comp, currently). I know you recommended Born Again, too, and that is also on my list!

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  2. Glad we’re in agreement that the original album isn’t quite as good as Heaven & Hell, but it’s got some incredible performances. I’d love to hear that concert CD but I’ll have to find the deluxe edition at a nice price in order for me to upgrade my original CD pressing. As you know I’m not nearly the metal (or Sabbath) fan that you are, but after revisiting their catalog last year I got a much better appreciation for them, and especially the first two Dio-era albums. I love the Celtic vibe of “Country Girl.” The slower parts of the song remind me of “Die Young,” but what’s wrong with that, right? Martin Birch deserves a lot of credit for how huge this album sounds.

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    1. Apparently Martin Birch was nursing quite a drug habit at the time. I still think it’s a great album though, just not quite on the level of H&H. Certainly not a disappointment to me though.

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      1. Interesting what you say about Birch, I had not heard this before. This must be around the same time he began producing Maiden, was he still working with Whitesnake or had he moved on from them? His workload may have caused some stress. Luckily it seems he had recovered well enough to produce the amazing Maiden albums at least.

        I really wish he had been working with Sabbath all along. They really needed some direction there for a while. After Terry Brown, Birch is probably my favorite (Rock/Metal) producer.

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        1. Birch was absolutely perfect for Purple and Maiden! I read this article about Birch being wasted during Mob Rules in a 1992 guitar magazine. Tony claimed it.

          I loved how he used different nicknames on all his albums. But Piece of Mind was the first one I had, so to me he will always be “Black Knight” Birch!

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  3. I’m sold. I’ve always knew Dio was a fantastic vocalist, and with the back-up of the Black Sabbath members, but this time album has always intrigued me. Admittedly, I should stop rambling and buy the damn thing! Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I hope you enjoy it. I’m sure you can find the original single disc or even the single disc remaster for a reasonable price. Although the bonus live disc with the deluxe really makes this one worthwhile.

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  4. Mob Rules was the first Sabbath album I purchased ,it’s a great starting point ,I remember buying it at SAMs here in Tbay for $5.99 on vinyl..hahahahaha….and it’s still one I listen to today…the Hammersmith show is excellent live for sure it’s better than Live Evil as it sounds to polished…..Mob Rules awesome…

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  5. Yah I read that to,Appice/Dio vs Iommi/Butler and than Ozzy puts out Speak Of The Devil and I preferred that one over Sabbath live album….82 good year for Hard Rock Releases…Rush,Maiden,Priest,Coney Hatch’s debut,Halen….

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    1. The Ozzy live album is awesome. Maybe I should do Ozzy for a series of reviews? I’m missing one Ozzy album (Down To Earth) but I’m sure I could pick it up pretty easily for under $10.

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  6. Bought Down To Earth and quickly forgot about it….the Last Ozzy that I dug was No More Tears….Ozzy series of reviews would be excellent man lots of debate esp with the guitarists,who wrote the lyrics…Ozzy or Bob Daisley..the rubbing out of the original backing tracks of the rhythm section on the first two solo Ozzys…man that was f*€k#d!!

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    1. Yeah, in that particular case, Sharon Osbourne was the George Lucas of rock! Changing a classic album…not a good idea!

      I’ll consider this. I liked some of Ozzy’s post-Tears output, I especially liked Ozzmosis.

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  7. Actually yeah I forgot that one,it kinda fell thru the cracks ….I gotta dig that one out now that u mentioned it…I put on Bark At The Moon the other day..what a great album,I was 16 at the time that on came out and was baffled when I heard So Tired for the first time,think about it the previous yr I’m listening to Speak Of The Devil and Ozzy telling the Ritz crowd to keep on smoking it and than a yr later it’s So Tired .hahahahahaha…..

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    1. My first experience with So Tired was the video! Remember that thing? Now, picture this: I’m sick at home with mono for like two or three months. Watching videos etc. So Tired comes on. Man that video made me feel MORE fucked up!

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  8. Another awesome Sabbath album. I was all about H & H but, over time, I’ve started to prefer this one. Not that there’s much in it… but I think Mob Rules just edges it for me. And (for anyone that doesn’t have that Hammersmith disc already) this is probably the most essential of the deluxe editions in terms of the bonus tracks.

    I could never get into post-Tears Ozzy. I though Ozzmosis was too dull and patchy although it had some great songs. And Down to Earth was just boring. I think I only listened to Black Rain about once.

    And top marks for the phrase “lightly pillaged”.

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    1. Thanks dude!

      Ozzmosis is a bit patchy. But for the great songs, like Old LA Tonight and See You On The Other Side, it’s worth having. Old LA Tonight is a really special song for me personally.

      I think for people who have H&H, and maybe are tired or burned out on it, they need Mob Rules. It’ll sound fresh to them. Like I said it’s a brother record. You can’t say that about Dehumanizer or The Devil You Know. Those are both very, very different (and from each other as well).

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        1. The cool thing about that tour was because they didn’t play Iron Man, Paranoid and Black Sabbath, they had more time to concentrate on Dio’s stuff. And rightfully so, since technically there were two versions of Black Sabbath in existence, one with Ozzy and one with Dio.

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        2. I file the albums as Black Sabbath albums in my collection, and I refer to them as Black Sabbath. Everybody knew who they were. A (black) rose by any other name….

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        1. Perry Mason, I Just Want You, See You On The Other Side and Old LA Tonight for me. So, four songs for me. I know Ozzy has been very critical of that album. But it’s the only one with Geezer on bass.

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        2. What a debut. I know Zakk wasn’t happy with his playing or his sound on that album, but I don’t think there’s anything there to be ashamed of. He felt he hadn’t developed his own sound yet. I think he was already more original than most guitarists’ debuts!

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        3. Didn’t know he wasn’t happy with it… maybe it’s the photos he is more embarrased by!?

          It was a great debut and he had massive shoes to fill. He didn’t do it by impersonating… he still had his own voice even then.

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  9. Probably my second or third favourite album of all time.

    But, Live at Hammersmith is NOT way better than Live Evil. (and I can prove it if you want)

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  10. Oh dear, Live at Hammersmith is not better than Live Evil. It is more convenient though, being on one disc and not having songs cut up over tracks.

    Liked by 1 person

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