Black Sabbath’s ‘Born Agaon’ was quite a phenomenal effort, and one that most have conceded to over the last twenty years. This lineup only lasted the one album though.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Black Sabbath
ALBUM: Born Again
SERIAL: 814 271-1
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Ian Gillan – vocals * Tony Iommi – guitars * Geezer Butler – bass * Geoff Nicholls – keyboards * Bill Ward – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Trashed * 02 Stonehenge * 03 Disturbing The Priest * 04 The Dark * 05 Zero The Hero * 06 Digital Bitch * 07 Born Again * 08 Hot Line * 09 Keep It Warm
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Ronnie James Dio had been a hard sell for many traditional Black Sabbath loyalists, but he had won most over with a pair of classics in ‘Heaven And Hell’ (1980) and ‘Mob Rules’ (1981), temporarily causing Ozzy Osbourne to be forgotten. But a rift arose in 1982 when group members blamed each other for illegally dabbling with the mix for the ‘Live Evil’ live release to enhance their parts. Dio left, taking drummer Vinny Appice with him to form his own band.
Their future in the air more than ever, the decision to hire Ian Gillan was heralded by many as a joke. After all Gillan had sung for Deep Purple of course, and worse, had even disbanded his own solo outfit to join an ill fated Purple reunion. But Gillan had the vocals that Black Sabbath required, although his image was at odds with the others, it’s quite amusing looking back at photos and seeing Gillan dressed in blue cut off denim, opposed to Iommi and Butler’s all black paraphernalia. Bill Ward rejoined for recording purposes, although couldn’t tour, citing ill health.
For years prior to ever hearing this album I automatically assumed it to be a dud, judging by all I had read about it. It seemed most journalists let their pro Ozzy bias get in the way when subjectively reviewing ‘Born Again’. Gillan was too talented for this to be a failure. Opener ‘Trashed’ moves at pace, basic heavy metal with Gillan’s usual double entendre lyrics proving a change of pace for Sabbath.
‘Stonehenge’ is a short, mysterious synth intro to the clattering ‘Disturbing The Priest’, with lyrics involving ‘the force of the devil’ more to true Sabbath tastes. A Black Sabbath doom classic. ‘Zero The Hero’ influenced such punsters like Gun’s N’ Roses with it’s main heavy riff (go and listen to ‘Paradise City’) hitting hard in turn.
‘Digital Bitch’ never lets up, the band getting up a head of steam, clinically precise metal. The title was no doubt enough to annoy Ozzy die hards. The title track is a lighter affair, Gillan in prime form, proving he still had the screams!
As for ‘Hot Line’, well the title says it all, slightly raunchy metal with a near AOR chorus. This is for me definitive Black Sabbath. Listening to this you could practically imagine the red faced Sabbath fans at the time. Nice one Ian! ‘Keep It Warm’ relies on a doomy Iommi riff, but with Gillan’s particular style it’s hardly menacing. I wonder to this day what the lyric ‘keep it warm rat’ is supposed to mean.
Quite a phenomenal effort from Black Sabbath, and one that most have conceded to over the last twenty years. The scars of Ozzy and Dio were still fresh back then, making this a painful experience for die hards. It was all downhill from there for ‘Deep Sabbath’ though.
Gillan was dissatisfied with the production (indeed rather thin, not quite full for maximum effect) and the hokum cover, featuring a devil baby, furthering derision for the lineup. The tour made things worse, ex ELO drummer Bev Bevan sat in for Ward (and Gillan’s image was at odds?), and Gillan had lyrics taped to the floor, angering fans even more.
The final nail had to be Black Sabbath performing ‘Smoke On The Water’ at the 1983 Reading Festival, with a huge Stonehenge stage set obscuring them totally. Gillan soon bowed out after a US tour, rejoining Deep Purple shortly after, leaving Sabbath without a vocalist yet again.
Disturbing The Priest