Sabotage: Super Deluxe Edition

Jul 01, 2021
Web Exclusive

By Frank Valish


The latest in Rhino Records’ super deluxe reissuing of Black Sabbath’s catalog takes on 1975’s Sabotage. Sabotage was Black Sabbath’s sixth album, following the seminal first handful, and the last album of the original incarnation of the band before its output started to wane. It is an album borne out of challenging circumstances, specifically a legal battle with management that took up much of Sabbath’s energies. As bassist Geezer Butler notes in this reissue’s liner notes, from a 2014 interview in Uncut magazine, “Sabotage took 10 months to record—it wasn’t fun anymore.”

While created under less than desirable circumstances, however, Sabotage is one of the more unique and interesting albums in the Black Sabbath catalog. Starting with the relatively predictable hard rock of “Hole in the Sky,” the album then moves on to the atypical acoustic guitar interlude “Don’t Start (Too Late),” which segues into the epic, multi-part nuanced six-and-a-half minutes of “Symptom of the Universe.” “Megalomania” is nearly 10 minutes of piano- and string effect-augmented dark rock. And “Supertzar,” which the band went on to use as its 1975 tour opener, is four minutes of electric guitar and choral voice. So while Sabotage doesn’t always fit cleanly into the band’s overall catalog, it is an intriguing listen that demands multiple listens.

Expanded here to a 4-CD or 4-LP with 7-inch box, the release features an added 16-track concert from the band’s 1975 North American tour, spread over two discs, and another featuring two redundant tracks from a Japanese 7-inch. The live show is interesting in its comprehensiveness and fleshes out the Sabotage experience. And while frontman Ozzy Osbourne is not always in top vocal form, there are standouts that are worth their weight in gold. Specifically, “Megalomania” nearly betters its studio version counterpart, starting with terrific funereal plod before accelerating to fiery guitar stomp and extending over more than 10 minutes. In typical Rhino Records form, the reissue also includes a detailed accompanying book (along with some other ephemera), which brilliantly documents in the band’s headspace in creating the album, culled from quotes taken from band members over the 45 plus years since the album’s release. (www.blacksabbath.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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