Black Sabbath - Reunion
About a year ago now I wrote a review of the NEC gig that has become this album. The music was timeless, the people not. I said that Id probably not see them live again now, unless they played small venues. So I went to the Ozzfest, which even a whinging old bastard like me has to admit was pretty good. And now, the double CD is out, so, in my infinite wisdom Ive bought that. Hypocrite? Maybe. Mug? Yeah, definitely. I represent a perfect example of what is wrong with the music industry in many respects, whats that quote from the DKs MTV Get Off The Air that youll find elsewhere in here, the dumbest buy the mostest, thats the name of the game. Couldnt put it better myself.
See, I had to buy this. Cos I was there. Curiosity because growing up, Sabbath was constantly being played in the bedroom. It was part of me. I didnt want to buy it, but, I knew I was going to. I mean, is it going to change my view of the gig? No. I said reunions are bad because they can never attain the status that we afford the band in our own mind. They cant, because the factors that make something great are often embedded in time, and dont move with us. Sabbath were great because of the time, because I was about 9 years old running around the playground singing you bastards cos that was the one bit that stuck in my mind from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Im not 9 now. Saying that doesnt have the same excitement, that same, shh, rebellion. And I dont run round the playground anymore. I just dont run.
I know you dont need to know any of that to listen to this album, or read this review, and youre probably not even vaguely interested, which is fair enough. The reason for saying it, is to try and place some kind of context around this review. Now maybe thats going too deep for music, after all, thats all it is isnt it? Music? Yes. But, people are making more out of this than that. So its being treated like that.
So what about the music. After all, inspite of the imagery and myth that surrounded the band, something else that cannot be recreated now, we all know what Ozzy and the guys are like. That mystery doesnt surround them anymore. Anyway, the music. Well, yeah, it is GREAT. There is no question about that. And Im extremely glad theyve left it as it was, including the bloke who managed to get onstage and accost Ozzy and proclaim Sabbath to be gods. Or something like that. It doesnt make sense without the visuals, but, if youre going to do a live album, then I think it should be the infamous warts and all approach.
The music is great, opening with War Pigs. I mean, how many bands can do that. Open with one of their most revered tracks, and then NOT go downhill afterthat. The setlist, well, you can always pick holes in it. It was the metal gig, so it was never going to be played, but I wouldve loved to have heard Changes or Killing Yourself To Live.
N.I.B starts out with that bass solo intro kicking the thing into action. Spiral Architect is an absolute highlight, outstanding. Fairies Wear Boots also shows the power, and versatility the band had, but were never given credit for. There was more to Sabbath than just the mighty powerchord and riff. Dirty Women is a bit of a boring one, couldve been replaced by something a lot better, but thats just picking holes in the setlist, and everyone can do that. And probably should. Then you get the final four tracks, Black Sabbath, Iron Man, Children of the Grave and of course, Paranoid. Name any other band that wouldnt kill to be able to finish a gig like that.
But Sabbath Bloody Sabbath proves what I feel in, unfortunately a better way than I can ever write. The music is great, but Ozzy cant do it. They play it in a lower key, drop the awesome final verse. Mutilated. Its still passable, but, see, thats not good enough. When you build a band up so much, expectations ARE greater than they should be. And if thats because its a band that has reformed to re-capture that feeling, well, theyre on a looser. My days running around the playground with this song bouncing around my head wasnt meant to end like this. Black Sabbath itself sees the Ozz struggle as well. I shouldnt dwell on the negatives here, but I do.
But, thankfully there are no solo spots on offer. Though with the argument Ive been using here, I should complain about that, because its one of those things that have changed since before. But in my opinion, its a change for the better, and as Im a hypocrite, then its ok.
The final two tracks are new studio recordings. Lets face it, we dont want a new studio album from them. Do we? I dont. You know now, in advance, that the tracks, no matter how good they be, will never, NEVER be comparable to the past. People wont let them. They wont be able to play new tracks at a gig and drop some of the old material. It just wont be allowed to happen. Its something that occurs with current bands, man, Korn just arent what they are when they did the first album or Metallica lost it when Cliff died or Bruce was the heart of Maiden, the new stuff just doesnt compare. And thats bands still going. When a band has reached the status of legends, as Sabbath appear to have been elevated to, then its magnified so many times that an atom begins to look like Mars. They will not be able to match the legend that time has created for them. The new tracks here prove it. Theyre not bad. But those are words that are not good enough.
The packaging is slick, and were treated to some words from a Kerrang! journalist. Oh goody. They actually do remember then the musical heritage and background that made the magazine. Just like to say thankyou to whoever for including the pics of the NEC empty before or after the gig. Just to prove what an absolute monstrosity the place, and all arenas are, and for showing, more eloquently than I ever can, that chairs do not belong at these gigs. After all, Sabbath built their reputation on fucking around with everything, being dirty, underground. And here we have a picture of where this took place, a sanitised establishment place. Another variable of time which just doesnt fit with where they originally were and what originally made them so infamous. Which is maybe why reunions should never take place. But then, theyve been creating music for 30 years, and Ive never written a song, so what the Hell do I know? And besides, I havent been able to stop playing the bloody thing. Cos for all the holes you can pick in the set list, its a convenient way of having a damn fine greatest hits collection. And theres been more than enough of those issued over the years.
Crap cover though.Never fear, if we wait long enough, therell probably be reunion toilet paper which we can wipe our arses with. Ill probably be first in line!
Available on Epic Records.