Black Sabbath, one of the most prominent and influential faces of the 70’s rock topography were, by the decade’s end, a band in disarray. Once the masters of their own reality, the Birmingham four-piece of Tony Iommi (Guitar), Geezer Butler (Bass), Bill Ward (Drums) and Ozzy Osbourne (Vocals), were now battle weary veterans, wearing the deep scars of a near ten year album-tour-album cycle that had left them bereft of any real sense of direction and motivation. The pace of the heavy metal and hard rock scene was now being set by the younger new wave of British heavy metal bands and young upstarts, such as Van Halen invading from the U.S.
Black Sabbath’s previous album, the ironically titled, Never Say Die!
, released in September 1978, did little to reclaim lost ground and would transpire to be their final studio recording with their much-loved front-man, who in less than a year, would be unceremoniously sacked for narcotic and alcoholic induced lethargy. To many, the odds on the band continuing in the absence of Osbourne seemed like a wager that no-one in their right mind would take. However, elsewhere in the world another hard rock behemoth was undergoing dramatic changes of equal tumult, the results of which would have a ripple effect upon the world of Black Sabbath with quite dramatic consequences. Ex-Deep Purple guitar maestro Ritchie Blackmore--now impulsive leader of Rainbow--was preparing to re-brand his Anglo-American myth makers into a sleek, chart-troubling troupe of AOR heroes. Ronnie James Dio, Rainbow’s founding lead vocalist whose lion’s roar had taken the band to gold and platinum status soon realised there was to be no place for his Arthurian-lyrical style in this new operation and, like Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne, eventually found himself one band short of a gig. Several phone calls later and a chance meeting in, of all places, the Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, Iommi invited Dio to join the remaining members of Black Sabbath for an impromptu rehearsal. Within fifteen minutes and one brand new song later (that’s "Children Of The Sea", trivia fans), Black Sabbath had their new lead vocalist in situ, Dio had a new gig and all were once more, ready to roll. The resultant album releases over the next few years elevated Black Sabbath once more to a place of highest regard within elite rock circles.
Such was the chemistry between these players, that two reformations of this Black Sabbath line-up have since been made, the second of which, occurring in 2007, went under the title of that first ground-breaking album, Heaven And Hell
, presented here in a remastered deluxe edition package.