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Huh? - 65%

DawnoftheShred, November 15th, 2006

Ozzy Osbourne, just a few years into his solo career after leaving Black Sabbath, decides to release an album entirely of live covers of Black Sabbath songs. Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't a live Black Sabbath album accomplish the same thing? The reason I've rated this low is because I believe the answer to that question is yes. Granted, there was only one live album out at the time for Sabbath, but now if you want live Sabbath songs with Ozzy, you can buy the double disc Past Lives album, a no-brainer over this one.

As far as the songs on here, they're the choicest of cuts. "Symptom of the Universe," "Black Sabbath," "War Pigs," "Snowblind," "Sweet Leaf," "The Wizard," and more, all performed incredibly competently. Ozzy's between songs bantor is kind of annoying, particularly since he introduces them all pretty much the same way ("now here's a number off of the ___ album. It's called ____"). Whatever happened to fusing the end of one song to the beginning of another when playing them live? Personally, I prefer hearing the songs over talking. Luckily his singing makes up for it.

All in all, Speak of the Devil is an interesting release and a solid set of live Sabbath songs, it's just doesn't compare to Black Sabbath themselves performing them. Get Past Lives.

Sloppy And Crazed, Yet Cool - 85%

corviderrant, January 3rd, 2006

Wow, this was the first album to really get me appreciating Black Sabbath indirectly, right after hearing "Paranoid" (the album) for the first time! Especially since all the heavy hitting stuff is on here--"Symptom of the Universe", "N.I.B.", "Black Sabbath", "Sweet Leaf", "Paranoid" of course, many MANY classics all in one package. And delivered in raw, loose, passionate manner live at the (now long since closed down) Ritz in NYC by a stellar lineup of Tommy Aldridge/drums, Rudy Sarzo/bass guitar, and the criminally underrated Brad Gillis on guitar, who may be better known to AOR fans as Night Ranger's guitarist. He was filling in for the tragically-deceased Randy Rhoads and I think he was out to prove himself in this context.

Brad's far more restrained and melodic leads in Night Ranger were nothing compared to the firestorms of shredding fury he unleashes on this album, with the classic Iommi riffs taking on a new level of manic energy and his incendiary lead work really tearing it up. On "N.I.B." he REALLY lets loose and plays easily the best solo on this album, building from the melodic start to wild whammy bar noises and frenzied, chaotic yet structured runs. Sarzo is right there behind him on every tune, riffing away on the bass furiously enough to make Geezer proud.

Ozzy is naturally the main attraction here and his obviously (VERY obviously) inebriated state shows in his slurred stage patter, making him sound rather silly at times. And he delivers the songs well enough to forgive this issue. But he makes one crucial mistake when he introduces "Black Sabbath" as "the fis' song I ever wro' in moy loife" *phonetic approximation of severely drunken Birmingham native*, when Sabbath fans all know it was Geezer who wrote that 'un. His spontaneous whoops and yells add to the comedy level here too during the songs.

The mix is actually really good, too, letting you hear all the band members as they do their thing--must be a soundboard tape, I'm thinking. It still has a nice raw edge to it too, not too polished, but not too muddy at the same time.

While this is not essential, I'd still recommend this for those who'd like to hear a new and more raw and energetic take on this classic Sabbath tunes as played by (at the time) hungry and aggressive newcomers. If you can find it, it's worth a spin or three, I say.