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Black Sabbath - Never Say Die! CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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2.96 | 372 ratings

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3 stars Never Say Die is the eigth full-length studio album by UK ( Birmingham) heavy metal act Black Sabbath. Lead singer Ozzy Osbourne left the band only a few days before the band was set to enter the studio to record the album and the late months of 1977 was a confusing time for the band. Former Fleetwood Mac and Savoy Brown vocalist Dave Walker was brought in and the band started to work on new material with him. Ozzy Osbourne had a change of heart in January 1978 and re-joined the band but he refused to sing the melody lines which the band had made while rehearsing with Dave Walker. This meant that when Black Sabbath entered Sound Interchange studios in Toronto, Canada they would have to make new vocal lines as they went on which made it a very difficult and stressful work process. Black Sabbath spend five months in the studio. Tony Iommi has later commented on the experience:

We were getting really drugged out, doing a lot of dope. We'd go down to the sessions, and have to pack up because we were too stoned, we'd have to stop. Nobody could get anything right, we were all over the place, everybody's playing a different thing. We'd go back and sleep it off, and try again the next day.*

Probably not the most healthy environment to create music in. Never Say Die was released on the 28th of September 1978 and did fare pretty well in the charts, reaching number 12 in the UK charts and number 69 in the US charts. It was nothing compared to earlier achivements though and the reviews of the album were generally not favorable.

The music songs vary greatly in quality and highligts are few IMO. The title track and album opener is by far the best track on the album. A real Black Sabbath classic. The two next tracks Johnny Blade and Juniorīs Eyes are respectable and good rocking tracks. But from then on the album goes from mediocre to below average reaching bad on the last song Swinging the Chain which features drummer Bill Ward on vocals. Swinging the Chain is a basic blues song made a bit more heavy because of the distorted guitars. Maybe itīs just me but generally when a band resorts to playing simple blues instead of developing their trademark sound itīs almost always a sign that they have run out of creative ideas. Air Dance touches jazz/ rock which doesnīt become Black Sabbath well IMO and Break Out with its brass arrangement is a rather odd choice for a Black Sabbath album. Itīs nice that the band wants to explore new territory but it doesnīt work well for them.

The musicianship is great as ever but Ozzy Osbourne does sound a bit uninspired on some of the more mediocre tracks. Itīs as if he knew these songs werenīt that good and he really didnīt care to make them better.

The production is a bit more raw than the production on the predecessor Technical Ecstasy (1976) which was a more polished affair. Especially the guitar sound is more mean.

Never Say Die comes of as a very mediocre album from Black Sabbath. I wouldnīt call it a below standard album though and the album does feature at least one Black Sabbath classic and a couple of respectable songs. A small 3 star rating is warranted.

After touring for the album Black Sabbath spend almost a year writing and rehearsing for a new album but the bandīs and especially Ozzy Osbourneīs abuse of alcohol and drugs deteriorated to a point where it was impossible for the band to keep working with him and Tony Iommi made the decision to fire Ozzy.

Tony recalls: We were all doing a lot of drugs, a lot of coke, a lot of everything, and Ozzy was getting drunk so much at the time. We were supposed to be rehearsing and nothing was happening. It was like 'Rehearse today? No, we'll do it tomorrow.' It really got so bad that we didn't do anything. It just fizzled out.*

Drummer Bill Ward was chosen to tell Ozzy Osbourne that he was fired. Bill Ward recalls:

I hope I was professional, I might not have been, actually. When I'm drunk I am horrible, I am horrid, Ward said. Alcohol was definitely one of the most damaging things to Black Sabbath. We were destined to destroy each other. The band were toxic, very toxic.*

So Ozzy Osbourne era Black Sabbath ended on a sad note. Fortunately both Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne would continue seperate succesful music careers.

*Tony Iommi and Bill Wardīs comments are taken from Wikipedia.

UMUR | 3/5 |


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