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Black Sabbath: Born Again (Deluxe Edition)

Ill- advised, gruesome, vomit inducing...and that was just what was said about the album cover. Born Again, the most controversial album in the Black Sabbath story, finally gets a Deluxe Edition overhaul that remasters the nine songs from the original and adds a pair of outtakes and a period live broadcast. The sequence of events that led to Ian Gillan teaming up with Iommi, Butler and Ward back in 1983 is well documented and suffice to say it clearly must have seemed like a good idea at the time. The result of their endeavours in the studio was an album high in dark and devilish atmospherics and imagery but also a stodgy, lifeless mix. Audiophiles will be point to the fact this is a remaster as opposed to a remix but clearly is a noticeable improvement over the original...although only those with a keen ear will be able to discern Tony Iommi's flute contributions.

Born Again kicks off with the speed metal burst of "Trashed" that is littered with Gillan's maniacal shrieking and screaming and frenzied lyrics and makes for a promising start. Sandwiched between two instrumental interludes "Stonehenge" and "The Dark" is the plodding "Disturbing the Priest" that despite the clever title and bleak effects comes up short. "Zero the Hero" is the albums best remembered track and rightly so with the combination of Iommi's riffing, Butler's throbbing bass and Ward's driving rhythm making for an effective backdrop to the weird and wacky lyrics. This was certainly no formulaic album as the contrast in styles continues across the furious "Digital Bitch", the ballad "Keep It Warm" and the title track itself where Sabbath veer into power ballad territory. Looking back the album really was a hybrid of ideas that reflected the differences between the history of the three core members and their new frontman. By the time of the World Tour Bill Ward had bailed out (again) and his replacement was also a curious choice in Bev Bevan (The Move, ELO) albeit the new drummer did share Iommi and Butler's Birmingham roots. Offering nine songs from their appearance at 1983's Reading Festival Disc Two is well worth investigating as Gillan tackles the holy trinity of "Black Sabbath", "War Pigs" and "Iron Man" and proves to be well up to the task. It may have been bizarre but the audience joyous reaction to "Smoke On The Water" demonstrates that fans of the day were prepared to give the new Sabbath a chance although, somewhat inevitably, it would prove to be a short term marriage.

With detailed sleeve notes and press cuttings from the period across an expansive booklet this all adds up to a very worthy package both for those who remember the album first time around and newcomers aware of the legend of the Stonehenge stage prop....

Track Listing
Disc 1:
01. Trashed
02. Stonehenge
03. Disturbing the Priest
04. The Dark
05. Zero The Hero
06. Digital Bitch
07. Born Again
08. Hot Line
09. Keep It Warm

Disc 2:
01. The Fallen (previously unreleased album session outtake)
02. Stonehenge (extended version)

Recorded live at the Reading Festival on Saturday, August 27, 1983 (BBC "Friday Rock Show" broadcast):
03. Hot Line
04. War Pigs
05. Black Sabbath
06. The Dark
07. Zero The Hero
08. Digital Bitch
09. Iron Man
10. Smoke On The Water
11. Paranoid

Added: November 28th 2011
Reviewer: Dean Pedley
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4410
Language: english

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Black Sabbath: Born Again (Deluxe Edition)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-11-28 10:29:08
My Score:

I've always had a real soft spot for Born Again...after all, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple have always been my two favorite hard rock/metal bands, so despite my disappointment at Ronnie James Dio leaving Sabbath at the time of the Live Evil release, I was actually pleasantly surprised that none other than Ian Gillan would be taking his place. When Born Again was released shortly after that announcement, most Sabbath fans either loved it or where unsure of just what to think. For myself, despite the lackluster, muffled mix, a truly powerful platter of metal was contained in those grooves.

Fast forward many years later, and Born Again is still looked at as the 'oddball' in the Sabbath discography, but I think it still holds up well today. Now with this deluxed edition, the album has been remastered (not remixed) so the sound is a little cleaned up and brighter, though I'd still like to hear the original mix that Gillan has been talking about for years. Compared to the original CD version of Born Again, this one is much clearer and crisp, and well worth checking out if you are a fan of the album. Also included is a second CD with two studio tracks from those sessions, the unreleased "The Fallen", which is a pretty decent song with big riffs and lots of Gillan screams, and an extended version of the instrumental "Stonehenge". Also, selections from Sabbath's headlining gig at the Reading Festival in August of 1983 are also included, and it's wild hearing Gillan screaming up a storm to "Iron Man", "War Pigs", "Paranoid", and "Black Sabbath" as well as Born Again tracks like "Hot Line", "Zero the Hero", and "Digital Bitch". Those who saw the tour that year (myself included) will remember the boys also playing Purple's "Smoke on the Water", and that's included here, with the audience totally getting into it and singing along with Ian. Sadly, you'll wish that more of this show was included, as I'm sure there's "Children of the Grave", "Supernaut", "Born Again", and more out there from this landmark concert.

This reissue is housed in a nice dual digipack with photos, artwork (who can forget that album cover!) and a long essay on the collaboration between Sabbath and Gillan. Well worth the purchase if you ask me, though hopefully someday we can see that remix as well as the entire Reading show available.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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