Thursday, June 10, 2010



Why can't we all just get along?

Balancing ego and accomplishment within the structure of a band is a tricky proposition. While some are content to play their role without demanding a greater slice of creative control or additional time in the limelight, many groups have fallen apart due to needless power struggles within their ranks. Fights about whose songs should be included, the overall musical direction to follow, image and a host of other contentious points have toppled many acts before they have had a chance to fulfill their initial promise.

So it was with Sabbath, Mach II, as 1982 drew to a close.

Please allow Tony Iommi to break it all down for you.

We'd worked so much and we'd been everywhere, non-stop work for years and then we recorded the live album and I say that loosely because of instead of being involved with it and listening to the sound in the [mobile recording] truck, it was recorded that quick at these gigs and we were more concerned with the gig than getting involved in the recording side.

When we got the [live recordings] in the studio, they were just bloody awful. It was so badly recorded that we had a big problem with it. We were pretty tired and our nerves were on edge and it just led to a bad feeling in the band.

And then to top it all, the engineer that was working with us was drinking more and more during these sessions and getting more and more pissed. One day, me and Geezer said, "It sounds different from how we left it last night" -- and this was going on for weeks – and the engineer said, "I can't take this any more! Ronnie's been coming in and adjusting everything and then you lot come in and adjust and then he comes in and adjusts it again and I just don't know what to do!"

And we said, "You're kidding?" and we broke up because of that! And of course, it was all hearsay and I don't really believe [what the engineer said] now but we did at the time.

Dio walked, taking Appice with him to forge a solo career.

Everything had been going so well...

Live Evil hit the racks not long after this bitterly acrimonious period of mixing, remixing, disowning and quitting took place. Quite good it is, too.

Courtesy of Circus Magazine, I recall reading a review of one of the gigs on the Mob Rules tour (Pine Knob amphitheater in Michigan) at that time, with mention of a forthcoming official live recording. This was the first Sabbath record that I was able to purchase when it originally came out. There were many debates revolving around Dio's handling of the Ozzy-era material, especially as Osbourne had released Speak of the Devil (a double live album of old Sabbath tunes) at roughly the same time. In the summer of 1983, I listened to both incessantly.

There are plenty of highlights, including the marathon version of "Heaven and Hell" welded together with "The Sign of the Southern Cross", complete with Ronnie's stage banter about recording/filming the show for eventual release and the audience participation segment. "Voodoo" has an extra verse, Iommi shreds, while Geezer and Vinny fill the spaces with beautiful noise.

If it's too loud, you're too old

It's worth mentioning that, for audiophiles, Live Evil exists in several formats, all with differences that range from track sequence (cassette has different running order than the vinyl copy), mix (CD vs. the record, UK vs. US masters) with the strangest being a CD release from Castle in 1996 that boiled everything down to one disc and eliminated Dio's between-song chatter. The Deluxe Edition, on the market since April 2010, has righted this careless tampering.

"Original Dio crowd interaction and audience noise restored."


Regardless of which copy you may own, it is a sterling document of this incarnation of Sabbath.

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