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Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi - 'Seventh Star' (Deluxe) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 08, 2011    
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A great remastered album, accompanied by a rare glimpse of what might have been.

Black Sabbath had quite the time of it back in the eighties. Not content with losing original singer Ozzy Osbourne in the first place, the band managed to bounce back with Ronnie James Dio behind the microphone. Everything was going just fine until around the time of 'Live Evil' which saw the band fall apart. Ronnie went off to form his own self titled band, leaving Tony Iommi to ponder his next move. A brief stint with another legendary singer, Ian Gillan, spawned 'Born Again', the "marmite" album that fans either love or hate, no middle ground. Personally I loved it, but things continued to unravel as Gillan went back to Deep Purple. The next thing you know, Iommi had decided a solo album was the way to go and began work on what would eventually become 'Seventh Star'.

Being a latecomer to Sabbath, my first taste of them was hearing 'Heaven And Hell', an album I checked out because I was so impressed with Ronnie's work on Rainbow's 'Rising' album. I didn't like Ozzy much at the time (still don't, his version of Sabbath is still the one I like the least, despite all the classic songs) and while I enjoyed Gillan's time there, I'd only just gotten into Deep Purple Mk III (because of David Coverdale mainly). Glenn Hughes took a bit of getting used to - even though I love the man's work to bits now, hearing him on 'Burn' and 'Stormbringer' (my only exposure to him at that point) made me wonder if his inclusion on this record was going to work.

I recall being stood in Andy's Records (remember them?) looking at this CD and wondering if it was going to be a disaster. This was pre-internet, no clips to be heard, those halcyon days of impulse buying on the strength of who was on the album. I eventually cracked, bought it, took it home and put it on. 'In For the Kill' came thundering out with an awesome vocal. I was sold by the end of the first verse!

'Seventh Star' is many things. It's a great album, first and foremost. It's packed with great songs, good riffs and killer vocals. It's a great example of why Glenn Hughes would end up being called the Voice Of Rock. It's short, clocking in at just shy of 35 minutes - but there's quality over quantity. What it is not, is a Black Sabbath album. Many people derided it for being too lightweight for Sabbath, but the fact remains it was supposed to be an Iommi solo album - the record company wanted the Black Sabbath part adding to help it sell. Only Iommi and Sabbath sideman Geoff Nichols are present, the rest of the group feature Hughes, Eric Singer and Dave Spitz. So get past that and you'll be rewarded with a great album and for me, the best of Iommi's three forays with Hughes.

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'No Stranger To Love' raised eyebrows as it was an excellent power ballad which Glenn delivers superbly. 'Turn To Stone' is a real powerhouse, there the slow, dark title track, the pacy 'Danger Zone' and Glenn's awesome power on 'Heart Like A Wheel', the brooding 'Angry Heart'... there's no filler here. It's a classic rock album that flows beautifully.

As most people know, the tour was a farce with Glenn being replaced very early on. After the first couple of gigs where Glenn struggled epically, later shows would feature Geoff Nichols singing off stage while Glenn mimed at some shows. Eventually unknown American Ray Gillen came in to replace Hughes for the rest of the gigs. Ray was supposed to fill the vacant slot on a permanent basis, but there's more of this in my review of 'The Eternal Idol' below.

With the deluxe tag on this reissue, you get two CD's - the first is the original album, remastered. The second provides a rare glimpse of Ray Gillen with Sabbath live at Hammersmith. Disc two features nine tracks spanning Ozzy, Dio and Hughes era material and Gillen nails them all. The sound quality isn't the best, it sounds like a good audience recorded bootleg, but it's well worth a listen. Gillen sounds confident and classy.

The result is a great remastered album, accompanied by a rare glimpse of what might have been. Any Sabbath fan who can get past the fact that's it's not all about Ozzy should find room for this if they haven't already got it. If you have already got it, the Ray Gillen show is cool but ultimately it's up to you to decide whether you want to buy it again for what to me sounds like 45 minutes worth of a good bootleg.

James Gaden

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