For me, if a release ever signified that kids today just have too many choices, then it is Black Sabbath and Live Evil. Released in 1983, it was a landmark statement in the world of Heavy Metal. Recorded during their 1982 tour, it captures the raw energy and sheer power of Sabbath’s live performances, reaching number 13 in the UK chart and number 37 on the Billboard Top 200.
Black Sabbath – Live Evil
40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition
Release Date: 2 June 2023
Words: Steve Ritchie
Back in 1983, the music industry was worried that Home Taping Is Killing Music. Sure, we used to share a bit of music around with mates, but that was really an introduction to new bands, and I would usually go on to buy the vinyl. Of course, I would record vinyl tracks onto cassette to play on my Walkman when out, but I never saw any of these for sale on Norwich Market.
If Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell was my introduction to Ronnie James Dio, then Live Evil was the first chance I had to hear him sing ‘live’. Youngsters today have it so easy. You can YouTube someone or Spotify whole albums or playlists. Like a guitar riff, and want to learn it? Then find the ‘how to’ video.
Back when discovering music was something you had to work at, you had to learn patience. You had to wait to have the cash to go to Andy’s Records in Norwich. Searching through the racks, your memory of what you read in Kerrang had to be strong. Otherwise, you were buying something based on album cover design alone.
I didn’t have the chance to see that lineup of Sabbath on stage until the Dehumanizer tour, but the memory of the first playthrough of Live Evil remains embedded in my mind. The atmosphere of E5150, the comfort of Vinny Appice’s instantly recognisable hi-hat opening and then we were into Neon Knights.
Iommi’s guitar was different from the studio but lush, and you could hear Geezer thundering away. Then Ronnie sang. Wow, I still get goosebumps thinking of, “Oh no. Here it comes again….”.
N.I.B found Dio on an Ozzy song. I loved it then and still love it now. The way he sang those lyrics, the ad-libbing during the Oh Yeah’s, and the wonderous power behind “My name is Lucifer, please take my hand” was inspiring.
In the context of 1983, this was just immense. I’d not seen Sabbath live at all, so to hear the extended Voodoo for the first time live was exciting. For context, you would see photos of Ronnie in print in Kerrang and album covers, but the first time I saw him move was in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Children video on the new video jukebox at The Bell in Norwich in 1985. I would have to wait until 1986 to see him on stage.
Side Four was my favourite. The Sign Of The Southern Cross moving back into Heaven And Hell was sublime. On the latter, this was my first experience of the crowd participation part. The move into Paranoid was great, and then Children of the Grave finished it off superbly.
It was said at the time that the album’s tracklist was a perfect blend of Black Sabbath classics and newer material, making it a comprehensive representation of the band’s catalogue. The chemistry between the band members is palpable, they said, creating an electric atmosphere that resonates with both longtime fans and newcomers alike. Both statements are spot on to this day.
The 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition is nothing short of exceptional. Both the 4-CD set and 4-LP sets contain a newly remastered version by Andy Pearce and a new mix created from the original analogue multi-tracks by longtime band associate Wyn Davis.
Both versions are great. With the illustrated hardback books that include new liner notes and replicas of the concert book and poster from the Mob Rules tour, you can spend hours reading and listening and working out which version you prefer. That alone would make for a wonderful BBQ.
The book is fantastic, the vinyl size especially so. MetalTalk has a Live Evil CD box set to give away. Just email comp@MetalTalk.net and tell us which three cities the album was recorded in. We will draw the winner on Friday, 9 June 2023. UK only, please.
Live Evil captures a pivotal moment in the Black Sabbath’s history, showcasing their ability to evolve and deliver a stellar live performance. The supposed arguments that followed were a shame, as the lineup would soon disband for a few years.
The album remains a must-have for any fan of Heavy Metal, serving as a timeless reminder of the influence of Black Sabbath on the genre and their place in the pantheon of rock music.
For people like me who remember the way they had to listen to music back then, this 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition is a priceless replacement for my over-scratched original vinyl. For more details, visit https://blacksabbath.lnk.to/LiveEvil.