The Cross Purposes tour was not a happy time in Black Sabbath. Geezer Butler had felt that this band (featuring himself, Tony Iommi, Tony Martin, and new drummer Bobby Rondinelli) should have had a new name and not been billed as Black Sabbath. Rondinelli left mid-tour, so Tony and Geezer called up the original Sabbath skinsman Bill Ward. With this historic lineup, 3/4 of the original band were intact (the same ratio as today’s Sabbath). They went to South America to play five shows. Then Butler quit after a furious standoff with Iommi.
This broadcast footage is all that remains of this very short-lived lineup of Black Sabbath.
The set opens with “Time Machine”, a Dio-era song that neither Tony Martin nor Bill Ward originally appeared on. The sound is pretty horrendous, coming in slightly better than bootleg quality. The crowd noise is too high, and the backing keyboards of Geoff Nicholls actually drown out the lead guitar. Nicholls’ backing vocals are also more audible than they should be. As a frontman, Martin does his best, which involves spreading his arms wide and shaking his hair. A long haired Ward has a completely different rhythm on this track than Vinnie Appice gave it. Another Dio number is next, “Children of the Sea”. Ward at least played on this Heaven and Hell classic. Haters would be critical of Martin’s version of Dio songs, but Dio quit. Ozzy wasn’t ready to come back. Iommi carried on, and that’s how it went down. Martin had to sing the old songs to the best of his talents and he helped keep the ship afloat during these difficult years. Having Bill Ward on this track lends it a required authenticity.
There are certain songs that Sabbath has never dropped from the set, that are very difficult for most singers to perform. “Black Sabbath” is top of the list. Ozzy’s possessed original can never be duplicated or imitated. A big part of that, however, is that Bill Ward’s primitive drum fills were such a big part of it, and Bill’s back on this one. With 3/4 of the original Sabbath there, this version actually works out. It’s one of the most true to the original of the versions released by any post-Ozzy lineup of Black Sabbath…except it is edited! It halts abruptly at the half-way point, to awkwardly go into “War Pigs”. This concert was clearly cut down to fit into a one hour (with commercials) time slot. Why half of “Black Sabbath” was sacrificed instead of something else, I don’t know. Shoddy. At least “War Pigs” is intact, with Bill (shirtless now) providing the loose backbone it always had on album. It acquires a jazzy feel during the slow outro.
Iommi gets a guitar solo (could have edited this out instead of “Black Sabbath”, but what do I know?) which has shades of “Too Late” from Dehumanizer. Then it’s “Paranoid”, with Bill behind the beat as it should be. Martin bites into every word, doing a fantastic job of it. I have several live versions of Martin doing “Paranoid”, but this one is the best and most true.
When it’s time for “Headless Cross”, the rhythm section are not the ones who recorded it (Lawrence Cottle on bass and Cozy Powell on drums). It’s weird to think of Bill Ward playing drum parts that Cozy Powell wrote. Geezer sounds more at home, and is able too bring his trademark slink to the bass. Offstage, Geoff Nicholls quite obviously provides the high notes in the chorus that Tony Martin can no longer hit, whether by voice or sample I do not know. There’s another awkward edit into “Iron Man”, a song most singers except Ozzy struggle with. This could have been excised. We finally blast into “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”: better, even though nobody can hit the unholy notes that Ozzy did on the studio version.
That’s the last track.. The back cover claims that “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” is next, but there is no such track. Bastards! To compound the error, they got the song title wrong by just having “The Hand that Rocks”. Not that this is the only mistake on the track list. “Babbath Bloody Sabbath” is pretty funny, especially since this title carried over to the song menu on the DVD!
Wardrobe wise, I like Geezer’s sweater with the crosses on it; that’s nice. Tony Martin has a cool, steel plated leather jacket, which looks as if raided from Rob Halford’s closet. Iommi sports silver cross center-chest, while Bill Ward is right out of 1975 with the long hair and track pants.
There are issues with the audio sync on this DVD, probably originating from the broadcast but carried over even though it would be easily fixed. Sloppy release. I’m sure that this is ripped from a VHS recording of the broadcast, due to the obvious spots where commercial breaks are edited out.
Maybe the original uncut tapes are out there somewhere. If so, somebody should release them. This concert could have been a great little DVD release, but the various audio and editing flaws make it a difficult viewing.