Black Sabbath

Live Evil 40th Anniversary
Black Sabbath

Four decades on, Ronnie James Dio’s stint in Black Sabbath is revered almost as much as the Ozzy epoch. This was their last Sab album before Dio went solo; now there’s a 2023 remix for these deluxe four-CD/LP versions.

Despite the acrimony that led to Ronnie’s departure, the quartet remained a concert powerhouse. “N.I.B” finds Tony Iommi’s SG in savage form, and he stomps on a chorus pedal during the intro to “The Sign of the Southern Cross,” one of the greatest “sleeper” Sabbath cuts. If you need a volume break, his quiet intro to “Black Sabbath” is a gorgeous melange of minor-key arpeggios, though Dio’s vocals are no match for Ozzy’s version. Audio-wise, the remixed recording is clear and vivid, but it’s also a 40-year-old live tape – modern technology can only improve things so far.

The second half showcases cuts from the spring ’82 U.S. tour, and it’s fierce. “Children of the Sea” is half ballad, half Marshall-stack stomper. “Heaven and Hell” was Sab’s standard concert sing-along and this version from San Antonio showcases Dio’s towering voice, Iommi’s Echoplex flexing, and the brawny rhythm section of bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Vinny Appice. In all, it’s formidable metal.

This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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