Black Sabbath Black Box
I've been a Black Sabbath fan since 1971 when a I was a kid and first heard Sabbath's 1st, 2nd and 3rd albums: Black Sabbath, Paranoid and Master of Reality. My friend had the Black Sabbath and Master of Reality albums, and my 16-year-old sister had the Paranoid album. I was 11 and listened to all three albums, over and over again. That's about when I got my first guitar, and I was hooked... Then, I bought Volume 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (a biggie for me), and Sabotage. I was also becoming a huge Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd fan at the time (about 1974-1975), and all my summer work money was going to what is now Classic Rock (but I loved it all, from Bowie and the NY Dolls to Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, The Who, Kiss, Zeppelin...). I've only Black Sabbath live once -- in 1973, in Jacksonville, Florida. It was my first concert ever. I was 12.
To this day, I still play in a classic rock cover band that plays out regularly. But, I'm a professional and family man too!
Black Sabbath remains my favorite band (though Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd are very close behind). I still listen to the lack Box set a lot--it's loaded into my car CD changer right now and has been for about a month.
Here's the thing, I admit I favor early Sabbath. But, it's not just because it was a nostalgic era for me. Like most bands, they were simply more authentic early on. The thing that made them Black Sabbath was present, which cannot always be said of the later BS with Ozzy Osbourne albums. (BTW, I don't recognize BS without Ozzy Osbourne -- even though I like some of the no-Ozzy stuff because Tony Iommi is a guitar icon to me--I spent about 3 hours today practicing and playing the guitar intro and song Spiral Architect from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath -- one of my favorite BS songs.)
The first five albums are great. (I include Sabbath Bloody Sabbath--the fifth album -- others may not, and may claim only the first four albums are truly great.) Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy, and Never Say Die don't get a lot of playing time on my CD players. But, then again, the didnt get a lot of playing time on my vinyl albums either. They just weren't as good and you could see the end coming for the band musically by Never Say Die. Ozzy made a wise move in leaving because Black Sabbath was searching for something new and were leaving their roots, like so many other bands trying to stay current.
They were no longer the dark, mysterious band of old. They seemed more interested in being modern and lost their mystique -- like when Kiss took off the makeup.
Black Box is important because it capsulized the best of Black Sabbath during their prime (especially the first five albums). The quality of the mix and mastering of the CD set is much better than I expected. You can hear details not fully heard on vinyl.
THe DVD is interesting -- but I think Sabbath should be listened to in a dark room with black light and incense burning. The song, Sleeping Village, from the first Black Sabbath album is perfect for this mood. It's quintessential Back Sabbath: Dark, misty, longing...
If you are a Black Sabbath Fan, you will get the Black Box. If you are not, but are thinking about it, do it. The first five CDs are worth it. There's something about Black Sabbath that freezes you in a warm darkness. This comes through in their early work. It's a sensation everyone should experience. But beware, the spell could last. I've been under it 35 years!Read full review