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The definitive releases from the original Sabbath - 90%

JCF, August 13th, 2006

Black Box (The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978) is a box set, containing the 8 CD's sabbath put out in the 70's (Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage, Technical Ecstacy, Never Say Die!), as well as a book and a DVD.

I'll break the review into 3 pieces, and weigh them accordingly.

Part 1: The CD's.

I'm not going to rate the music on the CD's, since they already have their own sections full of reviews on the songs themselves. So what makes these particular CD's better than any other release? SOUND QUALITY! There are no beeps, blank spots or anything of the sort on here (things that have plagued all the previous editions of these albums), they are perfect. The original source tapes were digitally remastered under supervision from the band, and it certainly paid off. Ozzy's vocals soar to new heights on "Hole In The Sky", Tony's monster of a riff on "Children Of The Grave" has never sounded heavier, Geezer's bass thunders on "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" better than ever, and Bill's drumming on "Symptom Of The Universe" is so fierce, it scares me. The packaging on the CD's is also very well done. They're the original covers (so they say "side 1, side 2" on track listing, which is kinda weird for a CD). They also kept the individual fonts for each album, a nice little touch. On a more amusing note, I seemed to have aquired a copy of Sabbath "Bloddy" Sabbath instead of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

The CD's get full marks, so 8 CD's @ 10/10 each is 80.

Part 2: The Book.

The Book contains two essays tracking Sabbath's first decade of existencer. The first is called "Lords Of This World" and details Sabbath 1970-1973. The second is called "A Hard Road", and follows up with 1974-1978. Not to many new things to be learned, but it deserves a read nonetheless. The next part is a time line, which is insteresting, but I don't like the layout, they should have had it in point form instead of paragraph form. Last comes the complete lyrics for all 8 albums. Scattered throught are pictures of the band, and quotes from various artists (Rob Halford, Kirk Hammet, Vince Neil among them) extolling the greatness of the mighty Black Sabbath. Overall, the book is pretty decent, though it would have been nice to have more pics of Geezer and Bill, Ozzy and Tony completely steal the show. I also didn't like how they basically gloss over nearly two decades of Sabbath history (1980-1997) in the timeline. I understand this is supposed to be about "the original lineup", but why they do they mention Ozzy's, Geezer's and Bill's solo works, but not what Tony was doing at the time ( i.e. keeping Sabbath alive).

Still, the book is pretty good, so I give it 7/10.

Part 3: The DVD

Given the comprehensiveness of everything else, the CD was quite a let down. It contains 3 music videos (for Black Sabbath, Iron Man and Paranoid), and a live cover of Elvis Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes" (which is actually quite amusing). You've probably seen the music videos before, they're the ones with the band playing and all this other crap pasted onto the background.

It seems as if the band didn't really give a shit about the DVD. It would have been nice to have a concert on it (say, the Paris 1970 bootleg, or that show from 1978's Never Say Die tour). Also, interviews with the band members, some mini-documentary on the band and their influence, or something else, would have been good to have on here.

The DVD gets 3/10, and 2 of those points are there simply because I laughed my ass off at Blue Suede Shoes.

This gives an overall total of 80 + 7 + 3 = 90.

If you dont own any Ozzy era Sabbath (or even if you own 1 or 2 CD's), this is the edition you want to buy, it is superior to every other release of these albums.

I've also heard Tony is working with Dio on a Dio-era box set, here's hoping it will come along soon!!