After the "Born Again" tour ended, Ian Gillan and Bev Bevan took off, leaving Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler yet again in a bad spot, needing to rebuild their band, Black Sabbath. An attempt was made in 84 with the return of Bill Ward, and new-comer vocalist David Donato, but that lasted only for a few photo shoots, and maybe a couple of rehearsals before falling apart. Then in 85 the original Black Sabbath reunited for "Live Aid", and there were rumors of them reuniting for good. Thank God that didn't happen!
Iommi and Butler branched off (or one could say that Butler left Sabbath, and that's the way I see it) to do solo projects. However, Sabbath still owed WB Records a 'Black Sabbath' record, plus WB execs, after hearing what Iommi had recorded with bassist Dave "The Beast" Spitz, drummer Eric Singer, and vocalist Glenn Hughes (one-time bassist/vocalist for Deep Purple), they urged Iommi to release it under the Black Sabbath name. Something that he would have been a fool not to have done! I've just always hated the 'featuring Tony Iommi' part under the Sabbath name. It was (and still is) a 'catch-22' situation: If it would have been released as a Tony Iommi solo album, critics and fans alike would have bashed it, calling it a Sabbath knock-off, and released as a Sabbath album, it was bashed for not being released as a solo album.
However, the album did pretty well, and Sabbath were born again yet again! Opening with the fierce and heavy and fast "In For the Kill", they let you know from the get go they are back with a vengeance. From the start I was hooked immediately. It took me a while to get used to the whole new 'double bass drum' sound of "Turn to Stone", love the title track, have been back and forth on "Danger Zone", and the rest I love as well. The ballad "No Stranger To Love" reminds me a LOT of earlier Sabbath 'ballads' like "You Won't Change Me", "Changes", "Solitude", et al, even though it is a bit more radio-friendly.
Drummer Eric Singer should not only be credited for being one of the greatest drummers in rock (then unknown, stolen from the Lita Ford band, but to go on to working with the likes of Alice Cooper and KISS), but for introducing Sabbath fans to the double bass drum kit sound in the confines of Sabbath. Yes, Bill Ward had a double bass kit, but he was (and still is) a King of the Single Bass, as is Vinnie Appice. The already mentioned "In For The Kill" and "Turn To Stone" are solid rockers that are furthered along with Eric's mean kick a** drumming.
But, the real treat on this album (if those weren't good enough) are the very bluesy numbers "Heart Like A Wheel", "Angry Heart", "Danger Zone", and "In Memory" (and the already mentioned "No Stranger To Love"). This is the blues like only Iommi and Sabbath could play it (and remember, Black Sabbath were a blues group from the outset). Very haunting riffs blended with Hughes' unique soulful blues voice just brings this album to life!
And, if that's all not good enough, there is a real great 'mystic' track on here! An instrumental called "Sphinx (The Guardian)" blends into the title track for one of the best Black Sabbath songs since "Heaven And Hell" and/or "Lonely Is the Word" from the "Heaven And Hell" album.
Personally, I am SO glad that this was released as a Black Sabbath cd instead of an Iommi solo project, for if it had been released back then as an Iommi solo project, not only would it have been slammed for already said reasons, but it would have ended up in the same cut-out bins with Jimmy Page's "Outrider". Does anyone remember that one??? It was actually pretty good. Page should have taken a cue from Iommi and tried calling that a Zep record, and maybe it would still be talked about to this day like "Seventh Star" is...Then again, maybe not, because this has withstood the test of time because it is great music from a great band.
And, this set live was phenomenal! Even though Glenn was fired after only 5 days on the road and the AWESOME Ray Gillen was brought in to replace him, it was a great year for Sabbath live! This version of the band was AWESOME live! They definitely deserved to be called Black Sabbath! So, if for only that, I am so glad this was released as a Sabbath album, for it helped keep them going on through the 90's. Thank you. :>)