Black Sabbath: Live At The Hammersmith Odeon

Sure, I know we just had Black Sabbath as Disc Of The Week a couple issues ago for the Rhino collection, The Dio Years, and the challenge I’d issue in response to anyone who’d call me out on these Double DOTW shenanigans is this: find me something better than Black Sabbath.

So yeah, good luck with that.

A limited edition of 5,000 copies, this previously unreleased show captures the Sabs in Dec. 1981, touring behind the classic and then recently released Dio sophomore effort, Mob Rules—which followed Heaven And Hell, the album from which the most current Sabbath incarnation gets its name. While that new band Heaven And Hell, comprised of Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice, chose to focus solely on material from the aforementioned H&H, Mob Rules and Dehumanizer for their set list, this younger incarnation of the same players didn’t have that option, as the latter hadn’t yet been written.

Thus, there’s plenty of Ozzy-era classics to feast on here, starting with a ripping version of “N.I.B.” on which Dio makes short work of Ozzy’s melody lines and replaces them with his own, more operatic, style. “Black Sabbath,” “War Pigs,” “Iron Man,” “Paranoid,” and closing track “Children Of The Grave” are given a similar treatment.

The rest of the songs in the set—which sounds fantastic and clear, given the digital once-over it no doubt received while being mastered for this release—are suitably more energetic than their Heaven And Hell studio counterparts, with “Neon Knights” opening the show at a blinding pace, and a couple live rarities for fans to enjoy—“Country Girl,” and “Slipping Away” as the standouts. Apart from that, it’s the standard expected guests: “The Mob Rules,” “Children Of The Sea,” “Heaven And Hell” and “Voodoo.” But just because you know what’s coming next doesn’t mean it’s any less enjoyable, particularly in the case of this lineup.

Basically, this is a limited release for longtime fans and collectors. You know, the kind of people who might already have 1982’s Live Evil but want to give it a little friend on their overly organized CD shelf. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything.

In A Lyric: “Sing me a song, you’re a singer”