Black Sabbath's first attempt at an official live album, 1982's Live Evil
was also the straw that broke the camel's back -- or rather, split the legendary group's second lineup right down the middle. Band tensions were already at an all-time high leading into the album's mixing sessions, but when founding members Tony Iommi
and Geezer Butler
accused singer Ronnie James Dio of sneaking into the studio to raise the volume on his vocal tracks, the pint-sized warbler decided he'd had enough and, guilty or not, departed to pursue a solo career, taking drummer Vinny Appice
with him. Fateful accusations aside, Live Evil
does benefit from a crystal clear, in-your-face sound, and by showcasing even amounts of both Ozzy and Dio material, effectively documents Black Sabbath
's renascent tours of the early '80s. Ronnie certainly has the vocal chops, if not the same everyman charm, to handle the Osbourne classics, but his incessant banter between (and during!) songs sometimes verges on the unbearable. And even though the album's only truly transcendent moments may be the vicious introductory pairing of "E5150"/"Neon Knights" and the extended "Heaven and Hell"/"Sign of the Southern Cross" suite, there's also nothing really amiss with solid interpretations of such all-time metal classics as "Children of the Sea," "Black Sabbath," "War Pigs," and "Children of the Grave" either. And considering the as yet unknown travails awaiting Black Sabbath in the post-Dio era, Live Evil
's troubled gestation has come to seem positively idyllic in retrospect.