Black Sabbath : Never Say Die : Why it Took Me 45 Years To Like This Album

How I Came to Appreciate Black Sabbath’s “Never Say Die”
I’m taking you on another journey back into my youth with an album that has sparked more requests for coverage than any other: Black Sabbath’s “Never Say Die.” This story has been quite the adventure to piece together, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Please watch the video for the full story

“Never Say Die” by Black Sabbath. Let’s start with the memorabilia I have related to this album. The original “Never Say Die” single from 1978 with “She’s Gone” from “Technical Ecstasy” as the B-side was my first connection. I have a ticket from the Sabbath Rock club at the Rio Grande in Birmingham, where I first heard the song. I also got the next single, “A Hard Road,” which was released on purple vinyl with “Symptom of the Universe” as the B-side.

I saw Black Sabbath live during their 10th anniversary World Tour in 1978 at the Birmingham Odeon. The tickets were £2.80 for the front stalls. I still have the program and the tour badge, a small but cherished piece of history. The program had detailed sections on each band member, including Ozzy Osbourne, who had recently rejoined the band.

Over the years, I accumulated various versions of “Never Say Die,” including CDs from 2004 and 2009, each with different essays and memorabilia. The latest addition is a splatter vinyl version from 2023, which includes the “Ten Year War” booklet. Despite these acquisitions, the original 1978 vinyl pressing was conspicuously absent from my collection for many years.

Why I Initially Disliked “Never Say Die”

In 1978, my friends told me Black Sabbath performed “Never Say Die” on Top of the Pops. I was skeptical, especially after listening to the single and finding the guitar sound thinner than their earlier works. I couldn’t afford to buy every record, and with so many great albums released that year—like AC/DC’s “Powerage” and Rainbow’s “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll”—”Never Say Die” just didn’t make the cut.

When I finally got around to hearing more tracks from the album, particularly “Breakout” and “Swinging the Chain,” I was perplexed. The brass section in “Breakout” and Bill Ward’s vocals in “Swinging the Chain” felt like a departure from the Black Sabbath I knew and loved.

The Revelation

Years passed, and my interest in Black Sabbath’s evolving lineup and sound never waned. However, “Never Say Die” remained an enigma. It wasn’t until I started Now Spinning Magazine and began revisiting albums from my past that I gave “Never Say Die” another serious listen.

A New Appreciation

Listening to “Never Say Die” with fresh ears, I began to appreciate its unique qualities. The album is surprisingly commercial, with wonderful harmonies and melodies. Tracks like “Johnny Blade” and “Junior’s Eyes” showcase Ozzy’s fantastic vocals and the band’s willingness to experiment with different sounds and production techniques.

“Shock Wave” and “Air Dance” are now among my favorites. The latter, with its jazz sections and acoustic elements, highlights the band’s versatility. Even “Breakout” and “Swinging the Chain” started to make sense within the album’s context, adding to its diverse and experimental nature.

“Never Say Die” is now firmly a part of my Black Sabbath journey. It stands out as a unique album that showcases the band’s ability to explore new musical territories. If you’re a Black Sabbath fan or new to their music, I encourage you to give this album a listen. You might find, like I did, that it has more to offer than meets the ear.

Stay tuned for my upcoming Black Sabbath ranking video, where I’ll dive deeper into their discography. Until then, remember: it’s never too late to discover something new, even in music you thought you knew.

Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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