BLACK SABBATH Live Evil (4CD box) BMG
For the vinyl box set review please watch the video above
1982, and twelve years after their debut, the fathers of heavy metal finally released their first official live album. And what a cracker it is. And the reason for releasing it was allegedly threefold; a reaction to the 1980 unofficial live set Live At Last, the 1982 live release by original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, consisting of Sabbath covers, and the signing of a new publishing deal which mean a fairer split of the songwriting royalties.
Since Ozzy’s departure at the end of the 70s, former Elf and Rainbow vocalist Ronnie Dio had come in and given the band a new life, a new energy, and the new line-up released two studio albums (Heaven And Hell, Mob Rules) to much acclaim, even in the face of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as was back then. So maybe a live album was a natural step too.
The new line-up of vocalist Dio and drummer Vinnie Appice with founder members guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler (with guest pianist Geoff Nicholls) recorded this album over 3 nights on the Mob Rules tour, and a wonderful album too. While the Ozzy era tracks stay fairly true to form, Dio isn’t afraid to make them his own. And a couple of tracks, including a drum and guitar solo, are extended too. And there’s no quibble from me over the setlist either. A good mix and the band weren’t afraid to showcase the new material. Basically, an essential album for rock and metal fans. Wonderful. Sadly this line-up disintegrated during the album’s production, but that’s another story.
Now on to this release.
The album has previously had single CD (edited), double CD and remastered reissues, and in line with the current ongoing BMG campaign, we get the Deluxe issue in a box with extras. But how deluxe is it?
Firstly, the package of the CD edition (there is an LP edition available), and first out is a replica tour poster, a replica tour programme (quite substantial, and bigger on the LP version), and a book. And what’s lovely about this book is a substantial essay, you know, proper sleeve notes, with a few pictures. It’s clearly much less press cuttings and rare overseas vinyl based. So read it as you listen and enjoy. Then there are two double CDs. Both come in gatefold card LP replica sleeves, and in both cases the card is a little more substantial than usual, and the CDs (in anti static sleeves) come out easily. Def bonus – this is how it should be done.
The first set, the remastered album, replicates the original sleeve, and compared to the last remaster, there is definitely an improvement. The music, it sounds excellent. But if that’s all you want, I’m not sure the difference warrants the price point. Yes, it’s expensive, and for some reason the European release is 30% more expensive than the US edition on Rhino. The second set in a similar package but different artwork, is the remix. Yes they’ve remixed the album, and this is superb. Some layers come put with significantly more clarity, especially the drums. You can actually make out the separate layers.
The package is, without a doubt, deluxe, and the remastered version of the album is too. However, musical content, given the deluxe tag, and price, and that a large portion of the target audience will have the previous remaster, are you going to want more? Well, yes.
Rory Gallagher’s Irish Tour 74, UFO’s Strangers In The Night, Deep Purple’s Made In Japan and most recently Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous are just some of the live albums recorded over several nights that have since been reissued as multi disc sets featuring the entire individual shows. So that, here, for a live album of this standing, is a major and obvious missed opportunity. We’re not privy to what they had available to go back to, but even the most gold placed package (which this genuinely is) costs that much, one would feel a little short changed.
Gripes aside, it is a wonderful sounding and wonderfully packaged album that will be hard not to enjoy.
Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine