Dave Donato

WTF SEARCH TERMS: Questions & Comments edition

It’s Friday, so let’s have a laugh.

Welcome to the semi-regular feature where I reveal stunningly weird search terms that led people to mikeladano.com  For the last installment, Heavy Porn Metal edition, click here!

WTF SEARCH TERMS XX:  Questions & Comments edition

 norum

1. is john norum bald and wears awig (ask Jon Wilmenius, he knows everything about bald Swedish rockers!)

2. did pete woodroffe play in led zepplin (I sincerely hope nobody over the age of 15 needs to ask who was in Led Zeppelin.)

3. chad kroeger douche (yes.)

4. dave donato sucks (meh.)

5. styx goofy keyboard player (Lawrence Gowan is goofy?)

6. what would a record store smell like (as I said in Part 57, farts.)

7. def leppard flashing tits tumblr (no nudity here, sorry.)

8. what about pye dubois-not max, kim, or rush- pye dubois! (yes!  what about him?)

9. is gary cherone sick? (not that I know of.)

10. just because you work at a bowling alley doesnt mean you cant put some pride into your burgers (agreed fully.)

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REVIEW: Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol (deluxe edition)

I’m addicted to buying these deluxe editions.  I think this is the last of my Black Sabbath deluxes. Check out more of my Sabbath deluxe reviews by clicking here!

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BLACK SABBATH – The Eternal Idol (2010 deluxe edition)

The years of chaos were seemingly coming to an end as Black Sabbath stabilized into a solid core of Tony Iommi, Geoff Nicholls, and new lead singer Tony Martin. The drum and bass positions would continue to swirl for another year, right up until the Headless Cross tour. Getting to this point was not without struggle, and this new Deluxe Edition illustrates this beautifully.

I’m going to sidestep the issue of “Does The Eternal Idol really deserve the Deluxe Edition treatment?” and just be glad it’s out. There are, after all, two B-sides here that were ridiculously expensive to acquire on 12″ vinyl. Those songs, “Some Kind of Woman” and the original version of “Black Moon” (which would later be re-recorded on Headless Cross) finally complete the Eternal Idol picture. And they’re not bad songs either, particularly “Black Moon”. “Strange Kind of Woman” I haven’t wrapped my head around yet. It’s this uptempo boogie rocker, and aside from “Blue Suede Shoes” I don’t think I’ve ever heard Black Sabbath boogie before. But it’s not bad, Tony’s playing is awesome, but maybe…ill advised is the term I’m looking for?

The bonus disc is the entire album’s original recording with former vocalist Ray Gillen (their seventh singer) before he was replaced by Martin (their eigth). This had been mostly available on a very common bootleg called The Ray Gillen Years, but missing a couple tracks. Now, the entire album as recorded by Gillen can be heard, and in much better sound quality.  Gillen was a very different type of singer, bluesier, very Coverdale-esque.  He later reappeared with his Sabbath-mate Eric Singer in Jake E. Lee’s Badlands.

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I can still remember keeping up with the Sabbath story via their music videos on MuchMusic. I was surprised when I saw that the “new” singer, the bearded Glenn Hughes, had been replaced by the much cooler looking Tony Martin. Skeptical, I watched the video for the first and only single “The Shining”. Lo and behold, the song was awesome! The riff (which goes back to an old unreleased Sabbath song from 1984 called “No Way Out”, featuring a lineup of Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and David “Donut” Donato) was powerful and epic.  As good as any riffs Sabbath had done with Ronnie James Dio. The new chorus shimmers with intensity. This new singer rocked! Unfortunately, Martin would spend his entire career with a “mini-Dio” or “Dio-clone” tag. The similarities are that Martin has a similar range and equal amount of power, but not the grit, and a different character. Fortunately for him, Martin would stick around for 5 albums, but never shook the “replacement singer” tag.

Aside from “The Shining”, I find The Eternal Album to lack lustre. “Glory Ride” is the only other song that was single-worthy, a great romp that reminds me heavily of “Strange Wings” by Savatage (a song that featured Ray Gillen on backing vocals, coincidentally!) The rest of the songs…well, they ain’t bad, I guess. They’re just unremarkable, which is not good for a band that has seldom been anything but.  “Born To Lose” is fast and furious, as is “Lost Forever”. “Scarlet Pimpernel” is one of those atmospheric Sab instrumentals that they were known for in the early days, and its inclusion was very wise. However, the songs so tend to meld into one another, with only “The Shining” and “Glory Ride” making my personal Sabbath road tapes.

I mentioned the creation of this album was chaotic. Aside from the replacement of the lead singer position mid-album, there were also two drummers: Eric Singer departed to be replaced by ex-Sabbath drummer Bev Bevan! But by the tour, Bevan would be replaced by ex-The Clash drummer (Dr.) Terry Chimes. Dave (brother of Dan) Spitz partially recorded the bass to be replaced by ex-Rainbow and Ozzy bassist Bob Daisley. Daisley was gone before the video for “The Shining” was filmed, to be replaced by a mystery man who nobody bothered to catch the name of. You can see him in the video. The story goes, they needed a bassist for the video and pulled this guy off the street. For the tour, Jo Burt filled the bassist slot. Neither Chimes nor Burt would stick around to the next album, Headless Cross.

Did you get all that?

The Eternal Idol was a crucial step towards solidifying Black Sabbath once again, after the chaos of the previous years, but it would be the next album, Headless Cross, that was a resounding return. A much more solid album, Headless featured the new nucleus of the two Tonys and the legendary Cozy Powell on drums. Session bassist Lawrence Cottle (a great fretless player) was replaced for the while by Cozy’s longtime rhythm partner, Neil Murray. That lineup of Powell, Murray, Iommi and Martin (always with Geoff Nicholls on keys) would prove to be one of the most stable in the band’s history and the one that I saw when I first saw Sabbath live in 1995 on the Forbidden tour.

Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. My point was to show that this album was really not the “comeback” that it could have been, but merely a step towards rebuilding Black Sabbath. You have to admire Tony Iommi for not giving up. The Eternal Idol is not for those fans who just like Ozzy, or just like Dio. Eternal Idol is for the metal maven who wants to know every chapter in the band’s history. Otherwise, I can’t recommend it, except for the two songs “The Shining” and “Glory Ride”. Purchase accordingly.

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Black Sabbath – Born Again (deluxe edition)

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BLACK SABBATH – Born Again (1983, 2011 deluxe edition)

Born Again is my favourite album of all time. #1. Numero uno.

It wasn’t always that way. When I first owned it (on cassette) I really only enjoyed two songs, “Trashed” and “Zero The Hero”. But I was persistent. Soon other songs started to emerge from the muddy morass that is this album: “Born Again”, “Keep It Warm”, “Disturbing The Priest”. Now, years after first hearing this album, it is an indispensible part of my collection and my musical background. I don’t know exactly why I love it so much. It’s an ugly duckling of an album, uglier even than its cover.

In 1983, Don Arden (father of Sharon Osbourne) recommended that Black Sabbath tap Ian Gillan (ex-Deep Purple) as new lead vocalist replacing Ronnie James Dio. Gillan had just folded his self-titled band (the excellent Gillan) to rejoin Deep Purple, but the reunion failed to happen. Drummer Bill Ward, at this point an alcoholic and still reeling from the death of his father, but still managed to come back long enough to record this album. (Soon, he was out again and replaced by ELO’s Bev Bevan, whose picture is also included inside.) Gillan said he was expecting this to be some new supergroup, under a new name, and was surprised when it became the next version of Black Sabbath.

“Trashed”, a fast smoker, kicks you in the nuts right from the beginning, with Ian Gillan’s colourful storytelling. “It really was a meeting, the bottle took a beating, the ladies of the Manor, watched me climb into my car…” No question what this song is about – drinking, ladies, and fast cars.  Narrowly escaping death, the drinking driver in question proclaims at the end, “Oooh, Mr. Miracle, save me from some pain. Oooh, Mr. Miracle, I won’t get trashed again.”

An atmospheric instrumental called “Stonehenge” (a dark watery piece) seques straight into the biggest asskicker of the whole album. “Disturbing The Priest”, the most evil sounding song on any Sabbath album, is actually anything but. Lyrically it’s just about recording the album next door to a church and waking up the neighbors! You can’t tell that from Gillan’s hellish screams or Geezer Butler’s fluid, lyrical bassline.

Another brief instrumental (“The Dark”) acts as in intro to “Zero The Hero”, the epic single, the most evil video the band ever made, and the riff that Slash (allegedly) ripped off for a little tune called “Paradise City”. Gillan sings his patented “English-as-a-second-language” style of lyrics: “Sit by the river with the magic in the music as we eat raw liver.” Raw liver?  What the hell? Musically, this song is the definition of heavy metal.

Side 2 of the original LP begins with another fast scorcher, but still a much more straightforward song than anything on side one. “Digital Bitch” smokes from start to finish. Angry, vicious and brutal, this is a rock song for metal heads. “Keep away from the digital bitch!” warns Gillan.  Iommi’s riffery is tops.

“Born Again” is, I guess, a fucked up blues, filtered through Tony Iommi’s echoey underwater guitar sounds. If I had to compare it to another song, it would be Deep Purple’s “Wasted Sunsets”, for mood and vibe. Yet this is a much darker beast, highlighted by a metal chorus replete with screams.

Another fast rocker, “Hot Line”, is up next which the band used to play live. Very similar to “Digital Bitch” in style.

The final track is “Keep It Warm”, a midtempo song with rich vocals by Gillan, and more of that Engligh-as-a-second-language lyricism. “Keep it warm, rat, don’t forget pretty pretty one that your man is coming home.” Rat?

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So: if this record is loaded with such amazing riffage and tunes, why was it so unpopular? Why did it almost destroy Black Sabbath as a band? Why did it rate so low, everywhere? The answer is simple to me — the production sucks. Rumour has it that Geezer Butler snuck into the studio and turned the bass up so high that it couldn’t be fixed in the mix. As a result, this is a muddy, bass-heavy album with non-existent cymbals or even treble. Bill Ward’s drum sound is similar to the sound of hammering on a sheet of 1/8″ thick steel. Even his drum style has changed — in the 70’s he was much looser, then he got stiff and this was the first album where he sounds so stiff and relentless.

Yet, as a package, to me it works. I love this album and the sound is part of that. From the cover art, to the look of the band, to the songs & videos, this is a picture of pure rock and roll evil! Sabbath is usually at their best when plying the darkest waters, and Born Again is indeed the darkest of the dark. I think this CD remaster goes a long way towards making the album enjoyable. (The liner notes are also excellent.)

After this tour, Gillan left for Purple (for real this time), and the band hired yet another singer — David Donato who later turned up with Mark St. John (Kiss) in a band called White Tiger. Donato joined the original members for a photo shoot, but this new lineup produced no music, and Sabbath disbanded. Tony Iommi began work on a with another ex-Purple singer, Glenn Hughes (notice a pattern here?)…but that is another totally confusing and convoluted story!

Gillan maintains to this day that he was “the worst singer that Sabbath ever had,” while Ozzy thinks this is the best Sabbath album since he left the band. But, much like Another Perfect Day by Motorhead, it is a different sounding album that has a strong cult following.

You decide!

AND NOW! Onto the bonus disc.

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First up is “The Fallen”, a heavy fast rocker with a great riff. It is a riff unlike most Iommi riffs but it’s a solid one. The song has been heavily bootlegged before, but the deluxe edition is its first official release. Interesting but not essential is an extended version of “The Dark”, the watery intro to “Zero The Hero”. Next is the live set at Reading. This is the first official release of anything featuring the Sabbath lineup of Gillan/Iommi/Butler and Bev Bevan. I have a bootleg of the Montreal show (Black and Purple), which is awful. Gillan’s voice was all over the map on that one, maybe his monitors were off or maybe he was hoarse, but he sucked that night. This Reading show is much better! You have to remember that Ian Gillan, of all the Black Sabbath singers, put his own spin on these songs. He didn’t always sing the words as they were written, and his voice is so idiosyncratic that it’s hard to put Made In Japan out of mind. That’s not a bad thing to me, I love Ian Gillan. It may not be to everybody’s taste.

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Strongest on the live stuff were “Digital Bitch” and “Hotline”. “Zero The Hero” is sloppy, but drummer Bevan is solid. In fact it is Bevan with whom I am most frequently impressed here. Aside from some “percussion” sessions on the Eternal Idol album, this is the first official release of any Sabbath music with Bev Bevan on drums, and certainly the largest chunk of Sabbath music available with his performances.

The crowd goes absolutely nuts for “Smoke On The Water”, more so than any Sabbath song before it. It’s weird hearing any band that’s not Deep Purple sing the story about Montreaux, but I think they had no choice. They really did have to play it or the crowds would have rioted. Sabbath play a blocky heavy metal version of the song.

Disappointingly, there is no Dio-era material. On the Montreal bootleg, Gillan sang “Heaven and Hell” (gloriously screwing up the words) and “Neon Knights”.

Still, this is an absolutely great reissue. Wonderful packaging and liner notes, finally answering the rumours about that album cover.

5/5 stars! This will always be my favourite Sab platter. Plus it tends to scare the neighbors.