Black Sabbath – Mob Rules [Deluxe Edition] (2021)

Posted by Green on March 5, 2021
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In hindsight, the two albums that Ronnie James Dio recorded with Black Sabbath in the early ’80s now feel a lot less like the rebirth they seemed to be at the time and more of an aberration—one of extremely high quality, to be sure, but definitely an aberration. Quickly after the new lineup debuted with the resurgent and splendidly forceful Heaven and Hell, the prosaic rock ‘n’ roll demons that had plagued Sabbath since its formation—drugs, booze, ego—reasserted their hold. The dark and adventurous approach of Heaven and Hell promised mystical metal panoramas, with soaring, evocative lyrics anchored by molten riffs. However, by the time The Mob Rules was released just a year later, those promises proved to be constrained by infighting and dissolution, resulting in an album that was little more than a slightly rawer, somewhat more diabolical carbon copy of its predecessor. With Martin Birch back in the production chair, much about this album comes across as Heaven and Hell, The Sequel, even in its sequencing. The Mob Rules kicks off with a hard-charging riff (“Turn Up the Night,” which comes out of the gate just as viciously as “Neon Knights” did), nails down an anthemic title track near the middle, throws in a Rainbow-via-Sabbath strut (“Country Girl” here, “Lady Evil” earlier) on side two, and closes out with a mournful, introspective dirge (“Over and Over”). Perhaps the biggest change here is how drummer Vinny Appice— who replaced Bill Ward halfway through the Heaven tour—is more firmly embedded in the group’s sound, propelling Sabbath’s tempos even faster and adding more percussive embellishments that both complement and take the focus away from Iommi’s dive-bombing riffs. Yet, while Mob Rules may not stand as the most innovative Sabbath album, it still contains some of the band’s finest moments. At eight minutes long, “Sign of the Southern Cross” is an epic that encompasses all the magic, doom, and fury the band is known for, and is among Sabbath’s best songs; when combined with the weirdo instrumental “E5150” and the album’s title track, the resultant impact is peak Sabbath. In other words, despite treading water somewhat, The Mob Rules is a very fine Black Sabbath album. However, by the time it was released, the lineup was already in disarray, with personality and creative clashes between Iommi and Dio coming alongside the perennial Sabbath-ian struggles with drugs. Sabbath’s Ozzy-free lineup would never be this stable again. By the end of the album’s tour, Dio (and Appice) would be out of the band and rapidly heading toward Holy Diver, as Iommi and Geezer Butler put the finishing touches on a live album and reconnected with a newly sober Bill Ward to record Born Again with ex-Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillian. It was a messy end to a brief era, but not one inconsistent with Sabbath’s history. This new deluxe edition gives a full look at the album’s place in time, polishing up the 2010 U.K. deluxe edition with a new, more dynamic remastering and a robust selection of bonus tracks, including the rough-and-ready original version of the title track (recorded for the Heavy Metal soundtrack) and an entire 1982 live show recorded in Portland.

CD 1
1. Turn Up the Night (2021 Remaster) 03:42
2. Voodoo (2021 Remaster) 04:32
3. The Sign of the Southern Cross (2021 Remaster) 07:49
4. E5150 (2021 Remaster) 02:49
5. The Mob Rules (2021 Remaster) 03:15
6. Country Girl (2021 Remaster) 04:02
7. Slipping Away (2021 Remaster) 03:45
8. Falling Off the Edge of the World (2021 Remaster) 05:03
9. Over and Over (2021 Remaster) 05:30
10. The Mob Rules (Heavy Metal Soundtrack Version) (2021 Remaster) 03:13
11. Die Young (Live B-Side) 04:03
12. The Mob Rules (2019 Remix) 03:24
13. Country Girl (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK, 12/31/1981) 03:59
14. Slipping Away (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK, 12/31/1981) 03:15
15. The Mob Rules (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK, 12/31/1981) 03:21
16. Voodoo (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK, 12/31/1981) 05:46
17. Intro (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 00:59
18. Neon Knights (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 04:25

CD 2
1. N.I.B. (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 06:02
2. Children of the Sea (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4 /22/1982) 07:13
3. Voodoo (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 05:52
4. Black Sabbath (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 07:30
5. War Pigs (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 07:19
6. Drum Solo (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 03:06
7. Iron Man (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 08:09
8. The Mob Rules (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 03:36
9. Heaven and Hell (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 09:44
10. Guitar Solo (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 03:10
11. The Sign of the Southern Cross (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 07:29
12. Paranoid (Live at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 4/22/1982) 03:30

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