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Past Lives is an excellent live package, containing lots of the most important and proeminent Sabbath tunes ever and guess what, there are also some precious underrated gems scattered through this fine live album. It perfectly captures the energy of this, at the time, young band: Ozzy sounds as energic as ever and all the musicians deliver excellent performances, especially Iommi, who seems to play all his solos flawlessly, and Ward, who, with his sense of rhythm and technical proeficiency, holds the songs together perfectly. Unfortunately, Geezer's bass is a bit low on the mix, but still audible; I just wish it was louder, though.
So, on to the tunes. The first CD was all recorded live in the same place, during the Volume 4 tour, and the second one compiles some lost live renditions of this english act (the first tracks are from a show in 1975 and the last ones, from “Iron Man” to “Fairies Wear Boots”, are from the famous concert in Paris, 1970). The first disk is flawlessly produced, everything is perfectly audible, and so is the first half of the second one; unfortunately, the songs recorded in 1970 suffer from some problems, the sound quality is much weaker and at times it's hard to hear the riffs and the drums clearly. A pity, indeed.
The first CD kicks in with a dynamic rendition of “Tomorrow's Dream”, out of Volume 4. There are two other songs of Volume 4 present here, the mighty “Snowblind”, which benefits from the intense vocal performance of Ozzy (I just love when he screams “Cocaaaaine!”), and the underrated “Cornucopia”, one of those Sabbath tunes one wouldn't expect to be featured on a live album of the band. Other highlights of the first disk include an extended version of “Wicked World”, which unfortunately is a bit on the overlong side, and the awesome “Children of the Grave”, which contains “Embryo” as its intro.
The second CD contains some quite somber Sabbath songs, which is, in my books, a plus: tunes like “Megalomania” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep” are constantly overlooked and are far from the “hit” status songs like “Paranoid” or “Iron Man” enjoy. In fact, “Megalomania” is the highlight of this second disk, with a very powerful vocal performance (even though Ozzy can't reach the high notes on some parts). “Hole in the Sky” is much better here than on the studio version, also containing a hilarious introduction (“are you high? So am I!”). “Hand of Doom” is another sadly forgotten Sabbath tune and it is performed here flawlessly, ending with a little “Rat Salad” jam. “Symptom of the Universe” is also very well played.
So, concluding, an excellent live offering by the godfathers of heavy metal: what really brings the album down is the poor sound quality of the last five tracks but, oh well, Black Sabbath's first era is perfectly represent by this record, an excellent piece to get you into the band, no doubts about it.
Best Moments of the CD:
-”Are you hiiigh? So am I!”
This is one of the best live albums that I’ve heard. This album has the and best live material Sabbath has ever put out. The 17 minuet wicked world that encompasses bits and pieces of other later Sabbath tracks is just stellar. Other high points of this album are the 1975 recordings of “sabotage” material. Personally I much prefer the first disc to the second despite the live sabotage material.
Iommi’s solos are incredible on this album and hearing a young Ozzy belt the most classic of Sabbath tracks is a thing to be heard.
The iron man, behind the wall of sleep and black sabbath recordings are unimpressive due to the lack of sound quality but still pretty good.
One thing I would have liked to see included in this album is the drum solo on “rat salad” that was absent on the “Hand of doom/rat salad” track.
Overall this album is amazing and I suggest it over the “reunion tour” album if you are looking for live Sabbath material.
Truly Sabbath at their best.
This is the only live Black Sabbath album you need. It's the only official live release with the original Osbourne/Iommi/Butler/Ward lineup, because this is actually the first American release of the previously UK-only live album 'Live At Last', plus a bonus disc of other live material culled from the same era up through (just a shot in the dark) the Sabotage tour I guess, since the latest material on here is from Sabotage (and man does it rock-"Megalomania" is awesome to hear live). This is the often-sought Live At Last with an extra disc basically of quality material from the same era, sold generally for the same price as a normal single CD (around here, anyway). Get the first 6 Sabbath albums and this one, and you're set.
Past Lives is an excellent showcase of classic Black Sabbath. They play all the hits, and some other songs I don't think have ever been captured live on a live album (Megalomania for one). Anyway, this album rocks. The quality is as you'd expect from live recordings done in the 70's, and sounds alot like the Sab's early albums, flat and heavy. Ozzy is in top form: "we love you!" and the rest of the band sounds right on the ball. Highlights of the album for me include Embryo/Children Of The Grave, Megalomania, Symptom Of The Universe, and Sweet Leaf.
This album is a must have for any true Sabbath fan, since it captures the band at their true pinnacle. It's tough to beat Ozzy/Iommi/Ward/Butler, playing this well, and this loud. Get it.