Black Sabbath: Heaven & Hell: 1980 Video Review

This is a look at the album, single, memories of the concert at The Birmingham Odeon in 1980, my autographed program, the CD and 2CD Deluxe Editions.

Hi everybody. Phil Aston here, from the Now Spinning group on Facebook. This isn’t a album review as such, this is kind of a memory review. I’ve seen the posts by Ralph and Tim in the last couple of days about Heaven and Hell by Black Sabbath. It kind of reminded me of the album and the fact I went to see them in 1980 and I was lucky enough to even get my program signed by the whole band. So, I thought I’d just go through my thoughts on the album itself and show you the program, for those of you who may not have seen it.

So, here we go. I’m going to start with the album itself, which we all know and this is the original on phonogram from 1980, the back cover looking a bit like Long Live Rock and Roll by Rainbow. So, it’s a fantastic album and obviously it’s hard to describe what it was like being in Birmingham in the late 1970s, 1980 and how popular Ozzie Osbourne was and is.

The fact that Ronnie James Dio had joined Sabbath was massive news and people were just talking about it, you know how could Ozzy Osbourne be replaced, even though Never Say Die was nowhere near up to the kind of quality that Sabbath had been producing, really.

Even though that and the fact that Dio was known from Rainbow Rising, this was still a massive deal in the world of hard rock/ heavy metal and 1980 was a golden year for this genre of music really.

So, I started my adventure with the album by buying this single, Neon Knights, which was backed with a live version of Children of the Sea. So the first thing I heard was Neon Knights and for a start it was really fast for a Black Sabbath track and it sounded very different. They sounded completely super-charged and I was really excited about going to see them.

And so, I got my ticket and here it is, for the rear circle, £3.50 on May the 25th, 1980. Now, a lot of my friends had managed to get tickets right down the front, I think it was 4th row from the front and they managed to sneak me in and get me down in the front. So, although it says I was in the rear circle, I was able to watch the whole concert from literally a few feet away from center stage in front of Ronnie James Dio. And, you know, this was the album I’d bought and listened to before that and it is one of Sabbath’s best albums of all time. Neon Knights, Children of the Sea, Lady Evil (maybe quality drops a bit then), but the title track of Heaven and Hell is absolutely superb. Seven minutes of excellence.

Side 2 opens with Wishing Well, Die Young (which is absolutely superb), Walk Away (quality drops a bit there), but Lonely is the Word probably features Tony Iommi’s finest guitar playing ever.

So, I didn’t buy the T-shirt, but I did buy the program and here it is and the Black Sabbath Heaven and Hell program, 1980 with the 2 dates here. They played Birmingham, as I say in May. They played two nights. They played on the Saturday night and also on the Sunday. So, as I was catching the bus on the Sunday, people were going for the second night saying what they’d thought of it.

I was very lucky to go backstage. 

The whole band signed my Tour Program, Tony Iommi on the far left, Bill Ward and then Ronnie James Dio and then Geezer Butler. I love Geezer on the other side. So, I was absolutely thrilled to get my program signed by the whole band and Ronnie James Dio was probably the guy I spoke to the most that night and he was very concerned how we were going to get home and it seemed a long way to go on the bus. It didn’t to us because we did it all the time and the Birmingham Odeon was a fantastic venue.

The program was typical of the time, lots of photographs. Bill Ward with the biggest drum kit in the entire world and I’m sure he hit all of them at least once.

There is a great picture of the whole band together, then obviously a bit of bio talking about how great Sabbath were and the fact that this was a brand new start. It obviously was with credits at the back and the lyrics from probably one of the finest songs they ever produced.

So, as the years have rolled by, the first time in 1996, I managed to upgrade this to CD.

I bet many of you out there have got this series of Sabbath reissues. I’m sure there might be one before this, but this is the first one I bought and it basically comes with the lyrics, which is handy because the original vinyl didn’t. And, a couple of their other tracks and stuff and that did me very well. And then, a bit later on, these deluxe editions started to appear.

Now, how many of you remember deluxe edition CDs … when they said a CD deluxe, they actually came and felt deluxe because of this plastic outer protective sleeve, which is now being done away with for cost reasons I presume. But, this stopped the disc being squished in your Amazon parcel when they arrived, but it just had a feel of being a bit more luxurious, deluxe even.

So, this was the deluxe version which I think you can still get and a fold out sleeve with the tour dates, etc, 2 CDs. And again, another booklet, but this one goes into far more detail than the other one although I think if I remember rightly, the expense of having no lyrics in it which is what you need to keep the other one. But, it’s all good stuff, it’s got the reviews from the time. This is a very good deluxe edition because you get the live B Sides and some good quality live recordings.

So, that’s Heaven and Hell, if there’s anyone out there who’s never heard this, this is the version to get, the 2CD version.

Phil

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