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There are times when even the seemingly infallible will fail, and nowhere else is that more true than this single and the cover compilation that spawned it. The heraldry thrown at the early era of Ozzy’s career is largely justified, but it in turn does not justify passing off a collection of butchered Black Sabbath covers as something worthy of blowing money on. The manipulation of the guitar that Brad Gillis is capable of when he’s writing his own brand of semi-classical but mostly rock oriented metal is phenomenal, but when superimposed on the established works put together by Tony Iommi, it amounts to nothing more than pretentious showboating.
Essentially both “Paranoid” and “Never Say Die” are cut from the same grain as songs, being largely up tempo rockers that function in getting things moving during a concert, either as lead off songs, a rekindling of energy after a drawn out progressive number or a ballad, or a grand finale. Nonetheless, as songs they are tailored to be simple and geared towards catchiness, ergo they are not geared towards an endless volley of miniature shred fills meant to keep a more stylistically active guitarist from getting bored. The guitar solo reinterpretation for “Paranoid” in particular comes off not only as being forced, but also sloppy and all over the place. Perhaps in the euphoria of the live venue Brad forgot that often less is more, but that does not explain immortalizing this rendition of it, with all of it’s glaring flaws, forever as a mainstream album release.
Basically the problems don’t begin and end with Brad's interpretation of these songs, but mostly centers around them. This music isn’t tailored for wild improvisation the way a song like “War Pigs” or “Fairies Wear Boots” is, not even for the drums, which is atypical given Bill Ward’s tendencies as a drummer during the 70s with Sabbath. Ozzy’s vocals go through the motions, as do the rest of the arrangement outside of the guitar, being neither impressive or revolting. They are there, they are adequate, but they are completely canceled out by the damned guitar. Funnily enough, I never thought I’d see the day that I’d be criticizing a guitarist for having too much fun with a basic song. Then again, I’d never heard this version of this song, nor the album it came off of until recently, as strange as that may seem. If you are of a similar persuasion as I was, remain that way, for sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.