Album Reviews

Black Sabbath – Still Live and Still Evil – 40 years on!

The ongoing series of Black Sabbath releases continues with the latest edition. This time featuring the live release of Live Evil. After the slightly disappointing presentations of Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, the format returns again to the “everything but the kitchen sink,” deluxe box editions of the early album releases. Don’t know why the label deviated from the previous format with those two but definitely these box sets are a much more attractive format both physically and also in terms of content for fans and collectors. These self-described “super deluxe editions are truly put together well and form an attractive collection on any fan’s shelf. Since the initial releases in the series I have decided to collect the cd format rather than the vinyl, however after recently witnessing the physical majesty of the vinyl release of Live Vinyl I may actually have to go back and now order all the vinyl editions also. A sign of effective marketing definitely, which causes the customer/fan to revisit and also repurchase different format editions in this case which don’t actually have anything new comparatively in terms of the cd version.

Back in 1979, the legend that is Ronnie James Dio joined Black Sabbath. In 1983 Black Sabbath’s first official live album, Live Evil, was released. The band celebrated its 40th anniversary this year with a new Super Deluxe Edition that introduces newly remixed and remastered versions of the acclaimed double album. LIVE EVIL (40th ANNIVERSARY SUPER DELUXE EDITION) was released on 2nd June as a 4-CD set, a 4-LP set and digitally. The collections feature two versions of the legendary album: a newly remastered version by Andy Pearce along with a new mix created from the original analog multi-tracks by longtime band associate Wyn Davis. The physical versions also come with illustrated hardback books that include new liner notes and replicas of the concert book and poster from the Mob Rules tour.

Image of Black Sabbath CD set.As a long-standing fan, to hear both remixed and remastered versions of this classic album that formed such a part of my youth is a veritable aural delight. Little subtle changes and nuances are presented and clearly defined. I actually grew up listening to this album on repeat throughout my teens and had no issue with the original mix. However, these new mixes and I’m definitely not an audiophile are clearly noticeably different. Indeed, it’s almost just like I am at the shows themselves-and not being old enough the first time around I will definitely take that.

A new era of Black Sabbath began in 1979 when singer Ronnie James Dio joined the band, along with founding members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward, to launch a new incarnation of the iconic heavy metal band.


The newly minted quartet debuted in 1980 with Heaven and Hell, a platinum-certified smash that won over fans of the original lineup. Halfway through the album’s tour, Ward left and was replaced by Vinny Appice. When the tour ended in 1981, the group decamped to Los Angeles and quickly recorded Sabbath’s 10th studio album, Mob Rules. Released in November 1981, the album would be certified gold. While touring for the album, the band announced plans to record several shows for what would become its first official concert album.

Image of Black Sabbath vinyl set.This live album release came at a time when the band themselves were going through a difficult and extremely fraught period within the Sabbath ranks. The departure of Ozzy and the subsequent arrival of Ronnie James Dio brought a much-needed re-energised and rejuvenated charge to the band. Their debut release, Heaven and Hell, was a massive global success and its upward trajectory was maintained by its follow-up Mob Rules. This difficult period of the band’s history is referenced heavily in the book accompanying this release. The setlist on the featured Us dates fuses together I feel successfully the two eras of Sabbath (up to that point). Alas, the lineup split before the album was released. Iommi and Butler continued as Black Sabbath, while Dio and Appice left to record Dio’s solo debut, Holy Diver. Still, it wasn’t the final chapter for the band.

The story continued over a decade later when Dio and Appice rejoined Iommi and Butler to record 1992’s Dehumanizer. They went their separate ways yet again, only to reconvene in 2006 – under the moniker Heaven and Hell – to record three new songs. After a hugely successful world tour, the quartet released what would be its final studio album, 2009’s The Devil You Know, which entered Billboard’s Top 200 chart at #8. Shortly after the album’s debut, Dio was diagnosed with cancer, a disease that led to his passing in 2010.

As stated earlier, I am definitely welcoming the return in physical format to that served up by the earlier Ozzy Sabbath era release If only BMG had done similarly for the two Dio studio album releases… goes off to Amazon to source the vinyl versions of the Sabbath series deluxe editions.


Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time.

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