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on 20 November 2014
So terrible it's not true, they've got about one speed. Fourteen crates of M and B and we're going to conquer the world! Ten out of ten for ambition, one out of ten for musical ability.
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VINE VOICEon 6 April 2009
Disc 1 the main album is worthy of 5 stars the album which brought black Sabbath to prominence via the single `Paranoid', and its spooky follow up `Iron Man'. What can you say about an album which has inspired many a guitarist over the last 40 years? If it's not 'Smoke on the water' then it's the riff from 'Iron man' you hear in guitar ships to this day. This deluxe 3 disc edition gives us a nicely mastered original album complete with an original looking vertigo swirl LP image on the disc. The mastering seems to be quite well regarded and certainly does not suffer greatly from that modern compression that so many reissues discs do suffer from these days.

Disc 2 is an Audio DVD and NOT a DVD Audio (no MLP) or SACD, this amount to a disappointment for me of this set. While it is nice to have a version of the original QUAD mix for the album it is only in lossy DTS and is not from a very good source. So full marks for effort in providing this disc but marks dropped for not getting a better source. That said the quad mix does open up the sound field quite a lot and manages to enhance the power of the original album on many of the tracks. Also of concern for a deluxe edition where you expect good sound quality the stereo track on the disc is lossy Dolby Digital rather than high bit rate LPCM as stated on the cover of the package?

Disc 3 is a disc of early versions of the songs on the original album in the order they appear on the original album. Of interest are the original lyrics to `Paranoid' and `Planet Caravan' which appears to have originally been almost 2 minutes longer. The other tracks offer little to the casual listener and are really for fans only.

For the price this is a very good set and deserves the deluxe tag, however there are flaws in the set and while its great to have the original quad mix it would be better to have it sourced for a good tape and as a DVDA.
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on 21 April 2009
Wow. I really had high expectations for this release; and pre-ordered it way back in October 2008 after learning of its existence on sa-cd.net

As many have noted, it was supposed to be a SACD (Super Audio CD) release in addition to including a standard "redbook" audio CD (and possibly a DVD as well)

While the scrapping of this format was a major disappointment, the real disappointment came in the quality (or lack thereof) of the Quadrophonic mix (which interestingly is misspelled as Quadr[a]phonic on the back cover)

The mix has so much tape hiss, as well as suffers from "singing-in-a-can"-type vocals that it is basically not worth listening to other than as a curiosity. I will not repeat what the other reviewer noted as his description is pretty accurate, but I also thought of that other classic rock release--Deep Purple's Machine Head on SACD--when building my expectations for this one ...

Naturally, when rumours started flourishing that the high-res audio had been scrapped in favour of Dolby Digital or DTS, my expectations sank quite a bit. But this still did not make up for the terrible sounding mix I encountered on this release.

They should have used a higher quality source when transferring the mix to disc--it could have been so much better! :(

Although this *is* a quite nice set, there are a few childish errors and ambiguities which could easily have been avoided:

The quad-mix is for instance listed as "1974 Quadraphic Mix - DVD Audio: 5.1 STS / 2.0 LPCM Stereo") -- neither of which is accurate.

"DVD-Audio" is a high-res format, not what is usually on a DVD. And 5.1 STS is obviously 5.1 DTS.

The advertised LPCM track (higher quality/bitrate than regular DD) is simply a Dolby Digital 2.0 track.

These are minor issues compared to the bungling of the Quadrophonic mix, but still worth mentioning IMO as it appears that this release had very little QC (despite the numerous delays) before being released to the public.

I will sadly be returning this one to Amazon for a refund.
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on 10 March 2011
I feel a little out of my depth here as I seem to be the only reviewer here who doesn't think this is as good as the winds of time have lead me to believe. Apologies in advance to any hardcore Sabbath fans (I myself have been a fan since the mid 80s but have been more interested in the bands they have influenced) but as an album this doesn't really come together as well as it should for a supposed 'classic'. It is in no way bad and yes there are classic songs on here, but most of the rest is rather underwhelming. Similarities can be made with Alice Cooper's School's Out: the classic title track and a couple of ok tracks was all there was, the rest was average. Especially when compared to the awesome debut and the properly seminal Master of Reality, it does not hold up as well.

The first 2 tracks are a gimme. 'War Pigs' has a great verse/chorus/riff etc but it does enter noodle territory for the middle section of the track. However, it is a classic and will always be. Unfortunately hearing a song too much can be a hindrance that has nothing to do with the quality of the song and that is what has happened here and on 'Paranoid'. The 2 tracks have almost become like jingles, advert music. But classics they still remain. 'Planet Caravan' is an odd one. After the stormimg punky rock of the first 2 tracks we are treated to a psychedelic, bongo lead trip of a song. Its melody is hypnotic but it is very slight and too long as the tune itself is rather pedestrian. Not awful, not great. 'Iron Man' is another of those tracks that falter due to overexposure. The riff is great but the song is not. However, as before, it is undeniably a classic.

The first really good song, classics excluded (and last unfortunately) appears on side 2. 'Electric Funeral' is a great track with a fantastic, distorted wah-wah riff. 'Hand of Doom' is ok but it lacks a bite. A track with such a powerful title should have been so much better ( a bit like 'The Warning' from their debut). 'Rat Salad' is a bit of a curio. It has a great drum solo but I'm of the ilk that drum solos are for live shows. It's average. 'Fairies Wear Boots' is again ok, but doesn't do anything very interesting. It's punky and rocking and has another winner riff but kind of dwindles towards the end.

As an album it's good. It's far less blues-lead than their debut and lends itself to punk frequently. I cannot seem to shake the feeling that this could have been a lot better. Maybe I am missing something but it doesn't gel as well as the debut or Master. If you are new to Sabbath, I would suggest Master or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. I'm going to be shot for this but even Never Say Die is better....
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on 4 April 2009
Rejoice, people - this is truly the exception from the "rule" that new remasters sound worse than the older CD editions! This is probably the best "Paranoid".

It's definitly better than the 2004 Black Box release (don't believe what J. Siegler says), and I believe it's better than the 1996 Castle CD. There are some other CD editions which I have never listened or I heard them a long time ago, but I don't believe they are better.
And there's edition which I own for some time, 2001 Sanctuary mini vinyl replicas 8-disc box-set.
This new 2009 edition is released 5 days ago on the same label - Sanctuary. I must say that guys there now their job. So - congratulations and respect to Sanctuary!

After detailed analysis it seems to me that they used the same source as in 2001, but remastered it in a different way. Both 2001 and 2009 editions have loudness boosting just very slightly over the edge, almost unnoticeable, which makes them incomparably better than most of today's releases with ridiculously boosted loudness. So there's almost NO trace of small dynamic range, distortion and compression.
When I compared 2001 and 2009 edition:
2001 has less noise and more bass; 2001 sounds muddy, with prominent low range, while 2009 sounds more natural, with prominent mid-range.
They both sound good, and eventually it's up to the listener to decide which sound he/she prefers. I don't know which one sounds closer to the original 1970 vinyl, I could know that only if I put that LP (but in mint condition!) on a high-end turnatable and make comparison - but that will never happen. So, my final conclusion is: I FEEL that this 2009 CD is the closest thing to the original record.

But this new remaster also came out as a double LP 10 days ago - if someone is interested in that. That vinyl edition should sound even better, if you have the right equipment in your home.

All this being said, for me the most important value of this new edition is not remastered sound of the original album (disc 1), but bonus tracks.
Disc 2 is NOT CD, but DVD audio, which contains 1974 QUADROPHONIC MIX. I'm not really interested in that, but I know there are some who are.
The reason I bought this (I didn't know and didn't believe that disc 1 will have such a superior sound!) is disc 3. It contains 8 album tracks, but in a way that no-one has ever heard before! 5 of them are instrumentals and 3 are alternative versions! All unreleased for 38 years and 9 months! Maybe some will not be thrilled with that, but I am! It was fantastic experience yesterday for me to listen those songs, which are full of interesting surprises. Because when you intuitively feel/expect to hear something at some moment, you don't hear that, and so that gives you completely new listening experience of that classic!

Also, there's beautiful 24-page booklet, with tons of linear notes and related pictures, even from the original Paranoid tour programme!

There was several times when this CD was announced, and then stopped at the last moment, but I guess now Iommi definitely lost legal battles. There are already announcements of releasing the other Sabbath classics as expanded deluxe editions. I feel that we won't have to wait much to get "Master of reality" unreleased out-takes...

I'm sorry if all this happened against the will of Iommi & Sabbath, I do respect them and their wishes, but only up to a point - because as much I love Sabbath, even more I love myself. :D And I want Sabbath unreleased stuff... me and thousands of other Sabbath fans. And I feel that we are true fans, even if we'll give money for something that Iommi didn't want to see the light of the day. And these 2001 and 2009 Sanctuary releases, although without blessing from the band, are infinitely better products than 2004 Black Box which had all the blessings.
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on 9 January 2006
Let’s be honest, the cover of this album is complete rubbish. I know the album was originally going to be called War Pigs, and as such there should logically be some kind of military figure on the sleeve. But even if this had remained the title, the cover would still be awful: some geezer dressed in a motorcycle crash helmet, wearing his underpants outside his pyjama trousers and brandishing a sword? Sounds more like a care in the community case than a fearsome futuristic warrior. Happily though, this is one of those “Don’t judge a book (or album) by its cover” scenarios, because the music here is arguably the best that Sabbath ever produced. This is all the more surprising given that it came mere months after their relatively poor self-titled debut.
After that album’s – at times – schlocky material and patchy playing, the music here is much stronger; better written and better played, more varied and featuring a much more confident and consistent performance from John ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne. There is also another hint that Sabbath can be regarded as - at least partly - Progressive. Certainly in as much as their songs often feature distinct sections (notably ‘War Pigs’, ‘Hand Of Doom’ and ‘Iron Man’) and that they were exploring new ideas and directions, particularly in their use of loud/quiet structures.
Oddly, this album begins similarly to the way Black Sabbath ended, with a song, ‘War Pigs’, upbraiding politicians for sitting around in safety while sending others off to die. ‘Wicked World’, the closer from the previous album, made exactly the same point. Similarly oddly, this album closes with ‘Fairies Wear Boots’, which refers explicitly to the group’s drug use, while the first track on their next album – Master Of Reality – is ‘Sweet Leaf’, a paean to the joys of the weed. If nothing else, I suppose it gives a neat unity to their first three albums.
Whereas Black Sabbath was quite tiresome in places, there are lots of things to enjoy here and the album rarely gets bogged down. One of the chief pleasures is the title track itself; this song must be to Sabbath what ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is to Led Zeppelin: their calling card, the thing they’ll always be remembered for, and consequently something of a musical albatross around their collective neck. That’s a shame, as it’s still a fine slice of Rock: chunky riffing, a tight rhythm section and Iommi’s nicely distorted guitar solo, while Ozzy’s performance suits the song to a tee: strung out, haunted…paranoid.
Aside from this though, there’s the excellent ‘War Pigs’, featuring a similarly dark and weighty intro to ‘Black Sabbath’, but where that song dragged and ultimately disappointed, this explodes into life, raging with righteous anger, rather than dripping with fake blood. It’s one of their finest efforts, where the ferocity of the playing reflects the (slightly naïve) fury of the lyric, railing against the warmongers who stay alive while so many others die at their behest. The power of the music and the timeless nature of its lyrical concern really make this one of Rock’s evergreens.
As a whole the album marks a move away from the Hammer inspired theatricality of Black Sabbath and towards the more typical obsessions of Sci-Fi, drugs, war and fantasy. This would mean no less of a preoccupation with death, but less with Satan and Black Magic (although ‘War Pigs’ manages to mention death, war, black masses, Satan and witches). ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Planet Caravan’ are cases in point: the former featuring a crushing riff backing a Frankensteinian lyric about supernatural mutation, revenge and space exploration, while the latter is something of a musical departure; a mellow, spacey arrangement evoking the likes of Santana, or a less playful Caravan, while Osbourne’s distorted vocals recount a romanticised tale of interstellar travel. It seems a little incongruous to place this track between the drug-induced trauma of ‘Paranoid’ and the Science Fiction violence of ‘Iron Man’, but it’s a fine track and adds texture to what would otherwise be a relentlessly heavy album. ‘Hand Of Doom’ meanwhile exploits a darkly sinister loud/quiet backing to bookend a faster, driving, middle section in another song about the pleasures and perils of drug abuse. That the various sections of the song hang together so well is a testament to both the strength of the material and the commitment of the musicians to their work
The same really applies to the somewhat tongue in cheek drug song ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ (“’cause smokin’ and trippin’ is all that you do”). In fact, the lyric aside, this song almost appears to be a catalogue of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal clichés, from the phased guitars of the intro, through the opening bars, to the chugging main riff. But when this album was released these weren’t clichés of course. That’s really the important thing to remember here: although this album has flaws (the clunky ‘Electric Funeral’ being a major one), it is seminal Hard Rock, and as such carries influence to this day.
The riffs aren’t as bold as Zeppelin’s, the playing is nowhere near as good as Zeppelin’s or AC/DC’s, and at times the sound is far more sludgy and muddled than either of those bands would ever have tolerated, but the music has a power and visceral energy that shines through any sonic murk. Alongside Led Zeppelin’s I – IV and Physical Graffiti, AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock and Back In Black and Deep Purple’s In Rock and Machine Head, it’s an album every Rock fan should own. Whether you’re just beginning to explore Hard Rock in general or Sabbath in particular, this is required listening.
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on 28 May 2000
Black Sabbath were the fathers of modern Heavy Rock (Zeppelin never claimed to be 'heavy'...just 'Rock' incidentally)and this album contains some of their greatest tracks...Paranoid, Warpigs, Fairies.. Having ownes all the Sabbath on vinyl for the past 20 years, I'd say that if you only have enough for one Sabbath album, get this one..chapter and verse of 1970s British Heavy Rock.
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VINE VOICEon 2 December 2006
Black Sabbath's second album develops the self-penned heavy rock contained on their debut and does away with the obvious blues influences. Tony Iommi's murderous, downtuned guitar prowls through what is a mostly slowish collection of tracks. The hit title track is the only high-tempo song. Ozzy Osbourne delivers lyrics that combine fragmentary remarks on war, drugs and nuclear threat with references to the occult and the grisly, largely in a voice that evokes dread. There's the odd digression, such as 'Fairies Wear Boots', which appears to reveal a sense of humour. Otherwise, this is music to spook you.

Heavy metal is an over-used term. Hard rock is probably a better description for much of the early 1970s, but Black Sabbath are a rare

exception. Their music is closest of its era in type to what emerged from the so-called 'New Wave Of Heavy Metal' onwards. They're not subtle, apart from on the mystical 'Planet Caravan', and their lyrics are not intellectual or possessed of different nuances, but the mood they achieve is intense and powerful. 'Paranoid' is their first classic album.
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on 24 April 2009
I wanted to comment not so much on the over-reverberant, dull sound of the 5.1 DTS, but on the mastering of the two CDs.

The CDs (the original album and rehearsals) do sound good. I was surprised therefore when I transferred them and opened with a wave editor. Both have substantial amounts of clipping (that is, the level is set so high waveform peaks flatten at full scale).

I think the reason they sound better than the "Black Box" is that they have not been compressed by volume maxing software, and most of the clipping is knocking the tops off snare drum beats, where it is hard to detect. Still, I'll stick with the 1996 Castle remasters, free of any form volume maxing efforts.

Regarding the second CD, where the final album makes much use of multi-tracked guitars, the rehearsals on the second CD have only a single guitar. Other than that they are close to the final takes in terms of arrangement and mix.

What struck me most about the alternative lyrics on Planet Caravan was that the singing is free of electronic treatment - just raw, rough sung/spoken words. I think prefer this to the final version.

My conclusion - this package is only for the serious fan, and buy knowing the serious shortcomings highlighted in many of the reviews.

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VINE VOICEon 5 September 2010
Black Sabbath were one of those bands from my youth it seemed totally impossible to like, they were for older, rockier types than a young entrant to the world of music. They also seemed terrifying with their mystical connection with the dark arts.

So, buying this album aged 43, I felt pretty secure that I would not suddenly start eating the heads of bats or burning churches down in rage whilst spouting the words of Paranoid backwards.

Right, to the music. Stone wall classic is a well used description, but it fits the bill. Ozzie sings each and every song with a tenderness and power that I had no idea he could, having truthfully only seen him as a TV former alcoholic. The man can sing, the band could play like demons and this album is an incredible experience from track one to the finale.

Drugs, paranoia, war and more are covered with some of the finest musicianship you are likely to hear. The band are as tight as hell, the guitar playing is magnificent and the overall feeling is dark, but with much more lightness of touch than I would imagine.

Stand out tracks, nope, can't help, it is an ALBUM, one of those old fashioned art works that has a start and end, with a track order that you have to follow to get the full effect. Kind of not the best news for the digital throwaway generation, but hey, live with it.

If you like music you need this album, whether a fan of rock, indie, punk, whatever, just buy it, grab a bottle of fine red and sit back late in the evening and play this on repeat.

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