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Black Sabbath Sabotage Review



Ok, I’m biased…When the CD format started in 1984 I was disappointed at the sound quality, for example, from digitalised Beatles albums. It was like a redacted documents where vital details are missing. The music sounded to my ears to be rather flat, lifeless, uninvolving. I fortunately held onto my vinyl collection unlike many who sold them off or gave them away. Recently I have started to listen to vinyl again after spinning an early Julie London record recorded in the fifties which sounded stunning. Record companies wised up and over time CDs sounded better with many original recordings being ‘remastered’. When you think about it the process of digitalising an analogue signal/sound is bound to lose some detail in the transfer, and I do possess many CDs which sound pretty good. Of course, much depends on the quality of recording production and mastering, and I have heard some pretty dire vinyl recordings.


So when I received this Super Deluxe Edition in Vinyl I was not only surprised but delighted in the expectation that a remastering of the original tapes had been undertaken. I was not disappointed. Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham have worked their magic as proved the case when I played the original SABOTAGE record. Now I don’t possess a super deluxe sound system but it’s a decent mid-level setup which including an old Thorens turntable and newer Audiolab amp with phono stage. The sound quality, even at this level, was wonderful. In fact so much so that I strongly recommend that fans should update their collections with this remastered version. Opener ‘Hole In The Sky’ possesses a live vibrancy with vocals and instruments nicely separated giving an excellent clarity where lyrics can be heard, while riffs and rhythms excite. The bridging whispering passage which includes acoustic guitar strums offer respite before ‘Don’t Start (Too Late)’ explodes with its screaming vocals, rampant drum rhythm and wandering, magical guitar riffs.


I find that this recording has opened my mind to the complexity of Sabbath’s music. ‘Symptom Of The Universe’ and ‘Megalomania’ are prime examples of just how intricate the band’s rock can be. ‘Supertzar’ is highly complex but compelling with its choral vocals, airborne guitar notes and classical undertone - it could easily be the score to an spaghetti western! Then the simpler rock tones of fan favourite ‘Am I Going Insane’ which sounds more like a marching song to me with nubile cheerleaders wetting the appetites of American football fans before the major event. ‘The Writ’ completes the record in great style with its musical variations from heavy rock to gospel tinged pleadings. Incredible!


And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…the live triple tour album arrives. Live shows are notoriously difficult to record in viable sound quality but I needn’t have worried. The band is introduced by the MC and launches into ‘Supertzar’ with soaring guitar riffs and Osbourne sounding raw and hugely exciting. ‘War Pigs’ is enormous with the crowd providing loud support with virtually note. There are so many compelling live moments here but side 7 includes a fabulous version of ‘Iron Man’ with an extraordinary, frenetic and winding guitar solo. This is followed by another mind-blowing guitar solo which includes excerpts from ‘Orchid’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor’. Side 6 is one of my favourites with Iommi’s amazing extended guitar solo and Bill Wards iconic, dynamic drumming.

Most of the band’s major songs are featured performed live enhanced by strong audience reactions at every turn. The quality of the recordings is exceptional and for you audiophiles out there, this is one live very special musical treat. I have no doubts that the CD versions are of excellent quality but there something about vinyl…Included are the very large tour poster and book of liner notes and brilliant images that I suspect are exclusive to this edition. For Black Sabbath fans, this has to be ESSENTIAL.




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