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PISS OFF, Live Evil! Well, Maybe Not... - 88%

TheKilla, July 4th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2007, CD, Rhino Handmade (Limited edition)

Black Sabbath Live At Hammersmith Odeon was quite the treat to commemorate the release of Black Sabbath's 2007 best of album "The Dio Years", as well as the 2007 world tour featuring the classic Dio/Iommi/Butler/Appice line-up, rechristened Heaven And Hell. Recorded during the 1981 Mob Rules tour (the exact same tour that provided us Live Evil), this recording takes the best versions of those performed songs from three out of the four Hammersmith Odeon sold-out concerts between December 31st 1981 through January 2nd 1982 and compiles them seamlessly as one glorious presentation. Even though this was released and sold-out as a numbered limited edition of only 5000 copies on May 1st 2007, and went out of print on its first official release day, it was eventually repackaged with the 2010 deluxe 2 CD edition of Mob Rules. But is it worth the purchase, especially if you already own Live Evil?

Actually, this CD is more than I ever could have hoped for as a life-long Black Sabbath fan. I probably didn't even have this recording before as a bootleg (I don't recognize it audio-wise). Rhino majorly cleaned up this recording. True soundboard, remastered excellently, in fact it might even be better than Live Evil....well maybe that's pushing it, but its way up there. And it’s long too at 79:52! And with two rarely heard live tracks, Country Girl & Slipping Away, as well as Iommi's shortened solo, makes this so worthwhile to add to your collection. Even Dio on this one says "Piss off, I'm gonna burn in Hell with all of you!" instead of the usual "Go Away, I'm gonna burn in Hell...". I've got a lot of “Heaven And Hell” live performances with Dio & he never said it like that before! I do wish they did the entire "Slipping Away", instead of going to the drum solo in the middle. That part where Tony & Geezer trade licks on the studio version is great live, I do have a boot of them doing it in full somewhere, but just not on here like that. It's just too bad they stopped doing "Sweet Leaf" live by this time too, the only other Ozzy-era track they did live with Dio, that would have been the cherry on top. Oh well, you can't have it all.

Concerning though the battle between Black Sabbath fans, "Which live album is better: Hammersmith or Live Evil?", truthfully Live At The Hammersmith Odeon is a great addition to any Sabbhead's library, but it's not as essential as Live Evil. First off, Live Evil is classic due to its 35 year old existence (wow, has it been that long!). If Hammersmith came out in 1982, then Live Evil in 2007, maybe. But that's not the case. Second, Live Evil is a fuller representation of a complete Black Sabbath concert, LATHO is not. Let me explain. When Castle Communications reissued/remastered Live Evil in 1996, they edited out things like Ronnie banter, crowd noise, and some of Tony's solo to make it fit on one disc, instead of the original two. LATHO was done in the same way. Don't believe me, think about it, how long is the crowd applause in between the tracks....it's two or three seconds each...that's not realistic. You mean Ronnie didn't talk to the audience at those shows between songs? C'mon. And Iommi didn't do a full blown eight minute plus solo either? Sure they did, Rhino Handmade just edited it out from the master to make it fit on one disc, while Live Evil was always meant to be a two record/two CD release, hence as much filler as possible resulting in a complete show, solos, banter, crowd, and all. But don't get me wrong, LATHO has some of the best editing I've EVER heard on a live recording! But the editing is quite apparent to fans like me with a ton of boots in our collections already. But trust me, in a way it's sorta nice to get to the point with this recording, compared to times when I have to wait 30 seconds or more to get to the next song on Live Evil (LATHO's editing is way better than what Sanctuary Records did on Disc Two of Sabbath's Past Lives CD), but the average fan will never notice, but to most of us Sabbheads it's apparent pretty early on, yet completely acceptable due to the quality it was done here.

Finally, Live Evil was recorded in the intent of a worldwide audio release, LATHO was not. It's more as a library recording for the band and management. Even though the remaster job on LATHO is excellent, you can tell that the instruments weren't “mic'd up” for that purpose. Also, some parts of LATHO wouldn't cut it for a major/first live representation of a band like Sabbath (I'd doubt Iommi would like to relive the drama of "Live At Last" again). The feedback during “N.I.B.”, the "trying to get the girl in the front row to sing Heaven And Hell and failing", and other bits like that show this is basically for collectors only, hence why it premiered on Rhino Handmade at only 5000 copies first (and not on Rhino's main label at your local store in millions), and ended up as the “bonus” disc of the deluxe version of Mob Rules. But it is exciting as the day it was performed and again shows just how powerful Black Sabbath Mark II actually was.

So in conclusion, LATHO is a great addition to the ever growing live Black Sabbath library. Excellent sound and mixing, the more varied set-list, and some of the best remastering you’re going to hear in a long time. While it won’t make any Sabbath freak throw away their copy of “Live Evil” in a metal garbage can, it will look nice sitting right next to it on your Sabbath CD hall of fame. And now that it’s been re-released with Mob Rules, the search for it has gotten a lot easier. Thanks for reading & all hail the Sabbath!