One of the most important debut albums of all time is the self-titled debut by Black Sabbath. Originally unleashed on an unsuspecting world on Friday, February 13th, 1970, it is arguably the first heavy metal album ever released and it is as influential now as it was then. The album is a masterpiece, a cornerstone in heavy music and something that is appreciated by more than just metal fans. It is one of those special albums you will find in the collection of most discerning music fans. Its appeal is truly universal.

This review isn’t really about the album Black Sabbath. We all know that the album is a bonafide classic. It, along with the band’s sophomore album Paranoid, is a 10/10 record from start to finish. What is interesting is that Warner Music has just (finally!) released a wonderful two LP deluxe version of the album that is well worth investigating.

The first LP contains the North American album proper in its entirety. Although the original UK album had a cover of the song “Evil Woman” on it, in North America that song was never officially released on a Black Sabbath record. This remains the same here, with the album pressed beautifully onto 180 gram vinyl via Quality Record Pressings. It sounds great here, probably a bit sharper than my original 1970 US first pressing, but as this new version has only been spun three times so far – as opposed to about three hundred times – the comparison may be unfair. The real reason for me to pick up this album once again lies with the second album of previously unreleased material.

The bonus second LP kicks off with “Evil Woman”, finally getting its first official North American vinyl release. It’s a catchy song, a little more poppy than your usual Sabbath fare, albeit with a nice riff from Tony Iommi. It’s followed by two different versions of the song “Black Sabbath”: the first is a previously unreleased studio outtake that contains slightly different lyrics than the official album version, the second is an unreleased instrumental take of it that is a real treat to listen to. The first side closes with an outtake of “The Wizard” which also contains alternate lyrics.

Flipping the second record over to side two we have five more previously unreleased early Sabbath gems. A studio outtake of “Behind The Wall of Sleep” is the first song, trailed immediately by “N.I.B.”. There is actually quite subtle differences between the official released versions and these outtakes – mainly in the lyrics, which have obviously been tweaked compared to the album versions. In fact, the only song on this side to have an incredible difference to my ears is the alternate version of “Evil Woman”. This version contains a horn section as well as a flute, giving the song an entirely different feel. It is much rowdier than the single version, the horns accenting the guitar riffs perfectly and giving them even more punch. I think I may even like this version more than the one that is on the flipside of the record. “Sleeping Village” and “Warning (Part one)” finish off the second side of the record.
The insight given into the world of Black Sabbath some 46 years ago through this bonus album is really fascinating, especially if you are a really big fan of the band. It’s something that you will not only want to hear once, but will warrant repeated listens as well. Tony Iommi was quite open for years stating that Sabbath didn’t really have much in the vaults, as far as unreleased material, but considering they found an album’s worth of outtakes for their first album as good as these are. I would imagine there is a lot more where these came from. This is a great package, from the cool record sleeves inside, which contain an essay about the album’s creation, to the high quality gatefold jacket that the album is housed in. It is a bit pricey, you will pay about $40 CND for it new in the stores, but it’s money well spent.

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By Sean Palmerston

Sean Palmerston is a vinyl loving music nerd who also loves NHL hockey, Godzilla movies and hanging out with his kids. A former contributing writer to a number of publications, including Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs and VICE, Sean also runs the all metal webzine Hellbound.ca