Though the Black Sabbath catalog has already been remastered & reissued in the UK a few years ago, we've not seen domestic releases here in the US, until now, no doubt spurred on by the band announcing their 'The End' tour, which will see them criss-cross North America for the very last time. The first in line are the initial trio, Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Master of Reality, with surely more to come. For those who plunked down the cash back when the UK reissues came out, no need to get these as they are virtually identical (save for perhaps some packaging differences), including the same remaster versions and bonus material. If you happen to own the initial Warner Brothers CD pressing of these early heavy metal classics, the sound is a bit brighter and clearer than those rather rough (though still great sounding) CD releases, so you'll have to make the decision whether to go ahead and pick these up or not. The wealth of bonus material, artwork, photographs, and liner notes are extensive, so that alone might make it worthwhile for many.
We all know how much of a devastating debut Black Sabbath was and still is, so there's no sense retelling the virtues of classic songs like "Black Sabbath", "The Wizard", "NIB", and "Wicked World", let along the creepy jams of "A Bit of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning". This is raw, dark, heavy, and often time bluesy music, which caught the rock world by storm and there was no looking back. Future releases would see the band get heavier and more polished, but that's a story for future reviews.
The bonus material is an intriguing listen, starting with the early single/cover of "Evil Woman (Don't You Play Your Games With Me)", which was not included on the US release of Black Sabbath but part of the UK album. It's pretty much just a heavy blues track with a catchy chorus, but not representative of the band at all, who hated it but succumbed to the label's pressure to record the song. The rest of the bonus tracks are comprised of studio outtakes, instrumental & alternate versions of the songs, and they are intriguing to listen to, though I don't know how many folks will go back for repeat spins. The booklet is jam packed with info & photos, so be prepared to sit down and spend some time reading. As I mentioned earlier, the album itself sounds great, definitely a slight improvement over the early CD issue, so if you are a Black Sabbath fanatic, I'm pretty sure you'll want to check this and all the other new reissues out.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
"Wasp/Behind the Wall Of Sleep/Bassically/N.I.B."
"A Bit of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning"
"Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me)"
"Black Sabbath" – Studio Outtake
"Black Sabbath" – Instrumental
"The Wizard" – Studio Outtake
"N.I.B." – Alternate Version
"Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me)" – Alternate Version
"Sleeping Village" (Intro) – Alternate Version
"Warning" (Part 1) – Studio Outtake