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“Live Evil” (remaster) by Black Sabbath

Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: “Live Evil” (remaster)
Label: Rhino Entertainment
Release Date: 10/17/2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

In order to properly celebrate the reunion of the “Mark II” version of Black Sabbath, Rhino Entertainment recently released a four CD boxed set called “Rules Of Hell”. The set featured remastered editions of all the albums with singer Ronnie James Dio on them and I am speaking of “Heaven And Hell”, Mob Rules”, “Live Evil” & “Dehumanizer”. This was a great way to once again enjoy some truly killer Metal from a lineup that was at first met with a lot of hesitation. The albums were packaged in a beautiful slipcase box and each featured brand new liner notes from notable journalists – truly this served the needs of those who had been clamoring for all of these releases to finally receive the remastering treatment. Of course, there are many who only liked one or two of these albums and those listeners might not have had any interest in shelling out the necessary dollars for the package of four and would instead prefer to purchase the one or two that were their favorites of the bunch. Lucky for them, Rhino Entertainment has chosen to release individual versions of these four genre-defining albums. Having already reviewed the boxed set in an album by album fashion we have chosen to break that commentary up by individual release and expand ever so slightly upon those first thoughts to better focus on each unique album and what it meant to the Heavy Metal legions. Read on.

Say what you will about the live album that the Black Sabbath guys recorded during their “Mob Rules” tour, because to me this was a far cry and step ahead musically and sonically from the only other available live recording that had come out two years previous from them. OK so “Live At Last” was not an “official” release but it did feature Ozzy Osbourne on all of the classic numbers and yet official or not, bootleg or legal, this album was a load of crap and disappointed more people than it had ever hoped it would win over. Originally this album was not particularly a prize either for having owned the original vinyl of this release I can attest to it being rather spotty at times, but overall it was still a very strong live recording and that should be known right off the top. It was an album that featured the Mark II lineup’s two recordings together (“Heaven And Hell” and “Mob Rules”) and of course would be the one that found Dio presenting in his own fashion some of the bands long venerated classics for the first time. This might have put some people off because the idea of someone else singing “War Pigs”, or “Paranoid” and the like was just not done. To these people anyone other than Ozzy Osbourne singing the songs would be a travesty and nothing less. Being honest, I felt that Dio did these songs well, and that they performed them superbly together on the whole. Appice was great on the fills once done by Ward, although he sometimes kicked them up a notch since that was part of his overall flair. If you discount the dramatic introduction number “E5150” which is taped, the set list for the recording is split down the middle with both bands getting equal time. Highlights from this lineups catalog were definitely “Neon Knights”, “Heaven And Hell”, “Mob Rules” and the incredible “Sign Of The Southern Cross”. Numbers that over time have become classics in their own right and referred to as must have tunes in ones collection. The remastering on this CD puts away forever those moments of spottiness that I mentioned the vinyl having. Either way this was always a valuable Metal release in my record collection and now the CD can officially replace it. I am sure a lot of you also felt this way but were afraid to speak in public about it for respect to Ozzy, but fear not, you can now safely stress your opinions on it. Oddly enough, despite the strong impact of the MK2 lineup’s material this live recording would also seem to seal their fate as Dio would move on along with Vinny Appice as the pair continued on as “Dio” and make their own history while Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler went through singer after singer for decades and release on and off quality material for years to come.

A booklet is included that offers the listener relevant information about the release and its place in Black Sabbath history of the time. The fantastic read comes courtesy of Stefan Chirajz for this album. The only downside for me was the lack of song lyrics since it would have been nice to have them and perhaps even some additional photographs of the members during each era or even unused artwork that was originally debated for this albums use. Any of that would have been nice as an addition to an already excellent release. There aren’t any bonus tracks presented on the release as one often sees on such remasters but one would hardly care based on the excitement around it finally seeing the light of day in this manner. The old saying of “the third time’s the charm” does ring true in some sense as in 2007 the music world would see the return of the Mark II lineup once again. Together they would record some new material and present it on a compilation “Best Of” that only focused on the times with Dio. The title was “Black Sabbath: The Dio Years”, and it was an album that would lead to one of the biggest tours ever. Now calling themselves Heaven And Hell; Tony, Geezer, Ronnie and Vinny would sell out night after night and perform before tens of thousands of the Metal faithful.

The individual releases of the Dio fronted Black Sabbath come to us shortly after the bands completion of a successful tour with Judas Priest, Testament and Motorhead that was dubbed “The Metal Masters” tour. The high energy dose of classic Metal superpowers on that bill should be enough to sate the fans until the band returns in early 2009 with a new studio album. If the new tracks that were recorded for the 2007 compilation were any indication of what the guys have up their sleeves then I am sure that we shall all be pleased. Remember that while these releases can be purchased as stand alone items now collectors might still be interested in picking up the boxed set “Rules Of Hell”. There is no difference on any of them outside of the slipcase box that holds them all together in one place.

Track Listing:
1. E5150
2. Neon Knights
3. N.I.B.
4. Children Of The Sea
5. Voodoo
6. Black Sabbath
7. War Pigs
8. Iron Man
9. The Mob Rules
10. Heaven And Hell
11. The Sign Of The Southern Cross
12. Heaven And Hell (continued)
13. Paranoid
14. Children Of The Grave
15. Fluff

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