Black Sabbath Reunion 1997 Live Album

Black Sabbath Reunion is the first officially approved live album of the Ozzy Osbourne Black Sabbath from concerts in Birmingham, England in 1997.

It seems strange to wait so long when their heavy rock rivals from the 70s like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple had such success with their live albums.

Sabbath were very popular when I was at school because they were seen as a local band. They are even more local to where I now live with the band formed in Aston, Birmingham and Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward all born within a few miles of me.

After 18 years since Ozzy left in 1979, this Reunion tour included all four original members with Geoff Nicholls providing keyboards and extra guitar.

I saw Black Sabbath live on their Technical Ecstacy tour in 1976 or 1977 but I wasn’t a big fan then and, despite buying plenty of their albums, I still haven’t made the connection with them except for the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album.

I’ve always been queasy with their devils music image and their heavy, plodding sound compared to the speed of Deep Purple and the contrast of light and heavy with  Led Zeppelin.

Songs are often speeded up in concert which I like because it shows the adrenalin is flowing. Don’t worry, Sabbath haven’t done that here. Reunion plods on remorselessly.

Black Sabbath Reunion Overall Rating – 22/30

Black Sabbath Reunion 1997Set List Rating – 7/10

Black Sabbath are responsible for six classic heavy metal albums at the start of their career and this retrospective live album picked from the first five, ignoring anything from Sabotage.

Disc one

  1. War Pigs – 8:28 (From the album Paranoid)
  2. Behind the Wall of Sleep – 4:07 (Black Sabbath)
  3. N.I.B. – 6:45 (Black Sabbath)
  4. Fairies Wear Boots – 6:19 (Paranoid)
  5. Electric Funeral – 5:02 (Paranoid)
  6. Sweet Leaf – 5:07 (Masters Of Reality)
  7. Spiral Architect – 5:40 (Sabbath Bloody Sabbath)
  8. Into the Void – 6:32 (Masters Of Reality)
  9. Snowblind – 6:08 (Vol 4)

Disc two

  1. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – 4:36 (Sabbath Bloody Sabbath)
  2. Orchid/Lord of This World – 7:07 (Masters Of Reality)
  3. Dirty Women – 6:29 (Technical Ecstacy)
  4. Black Sabbath – 7:29 (Black Sabbath)
  5. Iron Man – 8:21 (Paranoid)
  6. Children of the Grave – 6:30 (Masters Of Reality)
  7. Paranoid – 4:28 (Paranoid)
  8. Psycho Man – 5:18 (new song recorded in the studio)
  9. Selling My Soul – 3:10 (new song recorded in the studio)

I’m not a Black Sabbath expert but i wouldn’t have thought that fans could have any real complaint about this set list with all the essential Sabbath tracks although I’m sure personal favourites are missing.

Unfortunately when I listen to Reunion, I’m forced to face the fact that I’m not that much of a fan of the songs and for me, more is less. I give the set list 7/10 but I bet big fans will give it 10/10.

Performance Rating – 7/10

This album is relentless.

Heavy riffs.

Thundering bass.

Screaming guitar solos.

Screeching vocals with the lyrics belted out.

One problem is that the songs are performed in a very similar way to the studio albums.

The band sound tight and well rehearsed. Ozzy may have lost some of his highest notes but he’s not holding back. I can’t think of a word to describe the way he performs his vocals because it’s not singing.

Just as the songs, apart from the insistent riffs don’t appeal to me much, I fell I’m missing the popular appeal of Sabbath. I listen to this, admire the guitar work, bass and drums but the vocals and the sludgy tempos of the songs put me off.

Here are some videos of Black Sabbath performing live in 1997.

War Pigs

Fairies Wear Boots

Snowblind

Atmosphere & Authenticity Rating – 8/10

No doubt that this is the real Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne back in the band. I rate Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes and Ronnie James Dio as heavy rock singers but I don’t think any of them were right for the Sabs.

The next big plus is that Black Sabbath came home. This is recorded in Birmingham where they were born and where the band was formed.

The sound recording and mixing is excellent. Every instrument is loud and none dominates the others. Did I mention this was loud, no matter what the volume is set at?

The crowd are enthusiastic, even if Ozzy doesn’t think they are “f***ing loud enough” in places.

On the downside this was recorded in 1997 when nearly all the studio tracks played at the concert were from 1970 to 1973 so a Sabbath live record from the early to mid seventies would have featured the young Sabbath pioneering a brand new form of popular music.

I found the swearing in this album tiresome and gratuitous. Very middle class and British I know but I don’t see that it’s necessary or clever Just irritating.

Total Rating For Black Sabbath Reunion 22/30

Reunion is too much Sabbath for me.

When I put this album on, my head starts to hurt and I normally stop the torture before the end. or start later in the concert.

I thought much the same when I did see them live.

If you love Black Sabbath and heavy metal, then I think you’ll really like Reunion.

If you want to extend your album collection with a bit of Sabbath, you may be better with a studio album – Paranoid is the obvious one although Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is my personal favourite as it has more variety and (shock) synthesisers.

What Others Say About Black Sabbath Reunion

I’m surprised that this hasn’t appeared in any of the greatest live album lists when both Live At Last and Live Evil were featured in the list of the greatest live albums by Classic Rock magazine.

I think that’s because it was recorded 25 years too late.

On Amazon.com the reviews are very positive.

Sabbath fans place a high value on Reunion.

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If You Like This…

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2 thoughts on “Black Sabbath Reunion 1997 Live Album”

    1. Too dense and heavy for me and I can’t put up with Ozzy’s singing for too long. Black Sabbath were a big favourite of the kids at school but I didn’t get them in the 70s and I still don’t now.

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