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Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978

Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978

5.0 2
by Black Sabbath
One-upping Spinal Tap in the none-more-black stakes, this sludge-metal juggernaut pull out all the stops on this foreboding-looking -- and even more foreboding-sounding -- collection of their first eight albums, discs that practically defined heavy rock for a generation to follow. Black Box isn't one of those sets that's chockablock


One-upping Spinal Tap in the none-more-black stakes, this sludge-metal juggernaut pull out all the stops on this foreboding-looking -- and even more foreboding-sounding -- collection of their first eight albums, discs that practically defined heavy rock for a generation to follow. Black Box isn't one of those sets that's chockablock with oddities -- the only offbeat entries are a stoned-and-stoked cover of "Evil Woman" (tagged onto the Black Sabbath CD) and the Sabotage extra "Blow on a Jug" -- but the care with which the individual discs have been remastered makes for stunning listening. Bill Ward's drums, often tinny on previous CD pressings, practically explode from the speakers on tracks from Paranoid and Volume 4, while the expanse of Tony Iommi's guitar work is showcased like never before, from dog-whistle highs to sepulchral lows. The set is rounded out by a four-track DVD culled from Ozzy & company's stint on the Euro-TV concert series Beat Club. Besides standards like "Iron Man" and "Paranoid," the Beat Club footage also includes a stomping cover of "Blue Suede Shoes." This is as heavy as it gets.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Everybody knows that Black Sabbath's legacy rests on their first four albums -- after that, they lost their luster, or more precisely their mythic power. At their peak, which is how they are remembered, Sabbath were all about myth and power. Their very name had an ominous resonance, capturing their murky, foreboding sound perfectly. Taken at face value, the lyrics sung by Ozzy Osbourne were ridiculous, but delivered in his banshee wail and supported by the oozing, primeval sludge of the band, they could sound positively frightening, the last testament of man slowly being pulled into the dark corners of hell (there's something about their music that lends itself to florid writing, as well). That sound was intact on their 1970 debut, and it seemingly came out of nowhere. Sure, some psychedelic and acid rock bands were heavy, but nobody approached the gloom of Black Sabbath, nobody had the same sense of dread. Decades later, after years of airplay, after years of imitators, after their innovations have been assimilated, their music still sounds out of time, still sounds crushingly heavy and dark. Of course, that sentiment doesn't apply to all of the music Black Sabbath made -- Osbourne left the band in 1978 and the band was never quite the same, but truth be told, Sabbath lost their mythic power long before Ozzy went solo. Starting with 1973's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, the group began to stretch out a bit on their albums, giving guitarist Tony Iommi acoustic spotlights, weaving synthesizers into their tapestry of doom, gradually opening up the sound of their records so much that they no longer had their mystique. They still could sound like Sabbath, but they didn't much feel like Sabbath anymore, particularly on their last two LPs with Ozzy, 1976's Technical Ecstasy and 1978's Never Say Die! This is the part of Sabbath history fans conveniently forget when they celebrate the original lineup, but it's rightly on display on Rhino's lavish eight-CD box set Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978. Since the original lineup does still retain a mythic aura, some listeners unfamiliar with the trajectory of the group's career might assume that the latter four albums are all as heavy as Paranoid, and the fact that they're not may be a surprise and it might not be an altogether unpleasant one, too. While conventional wisdom among fans and the band is that the last two records are travesties, they're not nearly as bad as their reputation would suggest. They're certainly not what anybody looking for prime Sabbath would want to hear, but the varied production makes for interesting, albeit dated, listens, while both Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and 1974's Sabotage strike an effective blend of heavy sludge and layered production. Yet no matter how good those two albums are -- and despite fan affection for them, they're underrated simply because they exist in the shadow of Paranoid and Master of Reality -- it's the first four that define Sabbath, and they all have aged very well. Yes, certain recording techniques and studio conventions now sound a little dated, but they retain their primal power. Since the music is familiar, the real question with Black Box is whether the package itself is worth buying. The answer is a qualified yes. At first, it seems like there's not much need for the box, since these recordings have been reissued and packaged so many times it seems that the group has a provision in its contract demanding three new reissues in the U.K. every year. Plus, Rhino had released the excellent double-disc Symptom of the Universe in 2002, so not only were remasters easily available, but there was also a good compilation in the U.S. While all this is true, there's something to be said for getting all the material in one place, and there's little doubt that the package itself is worthwhile for fans willing to spend one hundred dollars for music they know by heart. The remastering is good, the digipacks are nicely done, the black velvet cover has good liner notes and testimonials from musicians, and the art direction cleverly is only in black and white, with not a color shot to be found in the whole 78-page book. Best of all, there's also a bonus DVD containing footage from the widely circulated "Live at the Beat Club" performance; it's only four tracks, but it's a great example of Sabbath at their prime, and it enriches this box. Ultimately, most listeners are going to be content with any of the classic four, but Black Box isn't meant for most listeners -- it's meant for the devoted, and this box lives up to their high expectations.
Blender - Nick Catucci
With eight doom-laden albums in as many years, the original Sabbath lineup uprooted flower power and invented heavy horror rock.
Make no mistake -- this is world-historical rock.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Black Sabbath   Primary Artist
Rick Wakeman   Synthesizer,Piano
Ozzy Osbourne   Synthesizer,Vocals,Group Member
Geezer Butler   Synthesizer,Bass,Bass Guitar,Mellotron,nose flute,Fuzz Bass,Group Member
Tony Iommi   Organ,Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Bagpipes,Flute,Piano,Electric Guitar,Steel Guitar,Harpsichord,Group Member
Gerald Woodruffe   Keyboards
Bill Ward   Percussion,Drums,Bass Drums,Vocals,Timpani,Group Member
Wil Malone   Conductor

Technical Credits

Black Sabbath   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Instrumentation
Ozzy Osbourne   Composer,Hands
Carl Perkins   Composer
Henry Rollins   Liner Notes
Vince Neil   Liner Notes
Beck   Liner Notes
Tom (Colonel) Allom   Engineer
Rodger Bain   Producer
Mike Bordin   Liner Notes
Hugh Brown   Art Direction
Mike Butcher   Producer,Engineer
Geezer Butler   Composer,Hands
Rob Halford   Liner Notes
Kirk Hammett   Liner Notes
James Hetfield   Liner Notes
Brian Humphries   Engineer
Tony Iommi   Composer,Hands
Mike Lewis   String Arrangements,String Conductor
Patrick Meehan   Direction
Krist Novoselic   Liner Notes
Barry Sheffield   Engineer
David Wagner   Composer
Dick Wiegand   Composer
Gerald Woodruffe   Arranger
Zakk Wylde   Liner Notes
Robert Trujillo   Liner Notes
Rob Zombie   Liner Notes
Bill Ward   Composer,Hands
Keef   Poster Design
Julie Vlasak   Art Direction
Colin Elgie   Artwork
Richard Manning   Drawing
Tom Dumont   Liner Notes
Billie Joe Armstrong   Liner Notes
Brian Ives   Liner Notes
Tim Scanlin   Liner Note Coordination
Sharon Osbourne   Executive Producer
Mike Stanford   Art Direction
Masaki Koike   Art Direction
Chris Welch   Liner Notes
Wil Malone   Arranger,Choir Arrangement

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Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For those of you who are too young to remember, including myself, this is the band that started it all for the music called Heavy Metal. My favorite track is Iron Man, and it may be the only truely great heavy metal song that ever existed, period. Another thing... this is a better set than the one I had a few years ago called "Black Sabbath: The Ozzy Osbourne Years". The reason? Simple: it is all inclusive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago