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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!”