Unless you have been living under a rock for the past six months, you'll know that the original line-up of Black Sabbath (well, three quarters of them, but we're not getting into that debate here) have reformed to play the Download Festival at Castle Donington in June and the Lollapalooza Festival over in America in August. To herald their return, a fourteen track compilation of Ozzy Osbourne fronted Black Sabbath tracks (culled from their albums recorded between 1970-1978) is being released.
For older Sabbath fans, of course there is nothing new here – Sabbath compilations seem to be released and re-released every few years, surely positive proof of the ongoing popularity of Black Sabbath – but this is firmly aimed at those younger fans who are maybe seeing the mighty Sabbath for the first time later this year, or have recently got into the band that everyone seems to be talking about at the moment.
The first two albums, 'Black Sabbath' (1970) and 'Paranoid' (1970) are well-represented here with four tracks from each of them included. All-time Sabbath classics like 'N.I.B.', 'War Pigs', 'Iron Man' and the ubiquitous 'Paranoid' sit together next to slightly less well know tracks such as the excellent 'Fairies Wear Boots' (about Tony Iommi's late night run in with some skinheads) and 'The Wizard' which features some excellent harmonica action from Osbourne. I'm sure that no self-respecting Metal fan can fault the inclusion of these tracks on here, but the rest of the album seems to tread less easily.
1971's 'Master Of Reality' album and 'Volume 4' from 1972 are less well represented, having only two tracks apiece, but the tracks included are top notch ones. Geezer Butler's thundering bass guitar intro on 'Children Of The Grave' blasts out the speakers, and the heavy duty tones of 'Sweet Leaf' (an ode by Butler to recreational cannabis use), nestled along with 'Snowblind' (another song referencing those demon drugs) alongside the unexpected but truly excellent (and always under-rated) 'Changes' with Iommi swapping his lead guitar for a more subtle piano.
'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' (1973) is represented here only by its eponymous title track which is a shame as the album itself has so much more to offer and seems to have been sadly overlooked. Likewise 1978s final hurrah with Osbourne, 'Never Say Die', is the only track here representing that particular album. Fair enough the band had some well-documented personal problems in the late 1970s, but they still managed to produce some great work.
It's just a shame that it was decided to put this album on a single disc as it could easily have been expanded to a more comprehensive double disc package – especially when the album would have been so much better with the inclusion of tracks like 'Supernaut', 'After Forever', 'Symptom Of The Universe' and 'Killing Yourself To Live', but I guess that if after hearing this compilation you want to hear more Sabbath material then you can always opt to buy the individual albums.
Available in a standard CD or MP3 Download
Fairies Wear Boots
Never Say Die
Children Of The Grave
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass
Bill Ward - Drums