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 with then UK reissues came out, no need to get these as they are virtually identical (save for perhaps some packing 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.
For their sophomore release, Black Sabbath created some of their most legendary songs, many of which the band still play to this day. "Iron Man", "War Pigs", and of course "Paranoid" are perhaps the bands three most famous metal classics, and influenced thousands of upcoming acts who then attempted to take up the heavy rock mantle in their wake. Deeper album cuts like "Electric Funeral", the dirge-like "Hand of Doom", the creepy psychedelic jazz of "Planet Caravan", the hard charging instrumental "Rat Salad", and the rampaging "Jack the Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots" make up the rest of Paranoid, and they are all just as powerful as their more successful siblings. It's here on this album that the lunacy of Ozzy Osbourne, the rise of the riff-master Tony Iommi, the whirlwind force behind the drum kit Bill Ward, and the rumbling bass & evil lyrical imagery of Geezer Butler all really took shape, climbing to even further heights on successive releases.
Over on Disc 2, you get a few instrumental versions of these classic songs, intriguing takes on "Paranoid" and "Planet Caravan" with different lyrics, and alternate mixes. Nothing remarkable, but certainly worth a few listens for the Sabbath faithful. A hefty booklet filled with photos, artwork, and liner notes make for a fascinating read, and the remastered sound on the main album is quite good, perhaps not leagues better than the original CD issue, but certainly a bit brighter and clearer. Will it be worth it to spend your hard earned dollar on Paranoid all over again? Well, if you've long thought those old Warner Brothers CDs from the late '80s/early 90s sound a tad flat, muddy, and harsh, by all means, check these out. The wealth of bonus material and cool packaging for many will seal the deal for sure.
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"War Pigs / Luke's Wall"
"Hand of Doom"
"Jack the Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots"
"War Pigs" – Instrumental
"Paranoid" – Alternate Lyrics
"Planet Caravan" – Alternate Lyrics
"Iron Man" – Instrumental
"Electric Funeral" – Instrumental
"Hand of Doom" – Instrumental
"Rat Salad" – Alternate Mix
"Fairies Wear Boots" – Instrumental