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Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Iconic Vinyl: Black Sabbath Born Again


Born Again: iconic but for the wrong reasons?


"Born Again," the eleventh studio album by Black Sabbath, stands as a unique chapter in the band's storied history. Released on August 7, 1983, the album marked the only collaboration with Ian Gillan, renowned for his work with Deep Purple. This era of Black Sabbath is noted for its divergent style and lineup, which brought both intrigue and controversy to fans and critics alike.

Band line up for the album 

The lineup for "Born Again" featured a combination of Black Sabbath's heavy metal foundation with Gillan's distinctive vocal style:

- **Ian Gillan** – Lead Vocals

- **Tony Iommi** – Guitars

- **Geezer Butler** – Bass

- **Bill Ward** – Drums

This configuration was a departure from previous albums, where Ozzy Osbourne and later Ronnie James Dio led vocals. Bill Ward, a founding member and drummer, returned for this album after a hiatus, adding to the album’s nostalgic value.

**Songs on the Album**

"Born Again" comprises ten tracks that blend Sabbath's heavy riffs with Gillan's expressive vocals. The tracklist is as follows:

1. **"Trashed"** – An energetic opener recounting a car crash, driven by a powerful riff and Gillan's wailing vocals.

2. **"Stonehenge"** – A short, eerie instrumental piece setting a dark, atmospheric tone.

3. **"Disturbing the Priest"** – A menacing track featuring dissonant guitar work and Gillan's dramatic delivery.

4. **"The Dark"** – Another instrumental, this time a segue into the next track with its foreboding mood.

5. **"Zero the Hero"** – A lengthy, brooding song characterized by its hypnotic riff and narrative lyrics.

6. **"Digital Bitch"** – A faster-paced track with biting lyrics and aggressive guitar.

7. **"Born Again"** – The title track, presenting a slower, more epic feel with Gillan's vocals taking on a haunting quality.

8. **"Hot Line"** – A straightforward hard rock number with a catchy riff and energetic performance.

9. **"Keep It Warm"** – A closer featuring a combination of melodic verses and heavy choruses, rounding out the album.

These tracks exhibit a mixture of classic Sabbath heaviness and the vocal dynamism of Gillan, leading to a sound that was distinctive yet polarizing.

**Album Cover Design**

The album cover for "Born Again" is notorious for its garish and unsettling design. Created by Steve "Krusher" Joule, it features a red-skinned, demonic baby with fangs and claws, set against a stark purple background. The image was met with controversy and confusion; its provocative design stood out even in the context of heavy metal's often shocking aesthetics. Despite criticisms, the cover has become iconic in its own right, symbolizing the album's daring and unconventional approach.

Stolen? Mmmm…

Check out our interview with Krusher:

The disastrous tour and that henge and dancing dwarf 

To support "Born Again," Black Sabbath embarked on the "Born Again" Tour, which ran from August 1983 to March 1984. This tour was notable for several reasons:

1. **Setlist** – The setlist combined new tracks from "Born Again" with classic Sabbath hits and even some of Gillan's Deep Purple material, providing a diverse and engaging experience for concert-goers.


2. **Stage Design** – The stage setup included a Stonehenge replica, intended to enhance the visual impact of the performances. However, this ambitious design led to logistical issues and was famously parodied in the 1984 mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap."

3. **Band Dynamics** – The tour showcased the chemistry and challenges of this lineup, particularly the dynamic between Gillan’s distinctive style and the established sound of Black Sabbath. This combination drew mixed reactions but was undeniably a spectacle.

A good record in a bad sleeve?

Maybe but sure needs remixing!

"Born Again" represents a bold experiment in Black Sabbath's evolution. With its distinctive lineup, unusual album cover, and varied tracks, it stands as a testament to the band's willingness to explore new territories. The "Born Again" Tour further highlighted the potential and challenges of this collaboration, making this era a fascinating study in the band's legacy. Despite its divisive reception, "Born Again" has cemented its place in the annals of heavy metal history, offering a unique blend of talent and audacity.

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