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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Black Sabbath - 1983 Born Again
Black Sabbath - 1983 Born Again

ARTIST: Black Sabbath
ALBUM: Born Again
LABEL: Vertigo
SERIAL: 814 271-1
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1987, Vertigo, 814 271-2


LINEUP: Ian Gillan - vocals * Tony Iommi - guitars * Geezer Butler - bass * Geoff Nicholls - keyboards * Bill Ward - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Trashed * 02 Stonehenge * 03 Disturbing The Priest * 04 The Dark * 05 Zero The Hero * 06 Digital Bitch * 07 Born Again * 08 Hot Line * 09 Keep It Warm


Ronnie James Dio had been a hard sell for many traditional Black Sabbath loyalists, but he had won most over with a pair of classics in 'Heaven And Hell' (1980) and 'Mob Rules' (1981), temporarily causing Ozzy Osbourne to be forgotten. But a rift arose in 1982 when group members blamed each other for illegally dabbling with the mix for the 'Live Evil' live release to enhance their parts. Dio left, taking drummer Vinny Appice with him to form his own band. Their future in the air more than ever, the decision to hire Ian Gillan was heralded by most as a joke. After all Gillan had sung for Deep Purple of course, and worse, had even disbanded his own solo outfit to join an ill fated Purple reunion. But Gillan had the vocals Sabbath required, although his image was at odds with the others, it's quite amusing looking back at photos and seeing Gillan dressed in blue cut off denim, opposed to Iommi and Butler's all black paraphernalia. Bill Ward rejoined for recording purposes, although couldn't tour, citing ill health.

The Songs
For years prior to ever hearing this album I automatically assumed it to be a dud, judging by all I had read about it. It seemed most journalists let their pro Ozzy bias get in the way when subjectively reviewing 'Born Again'. Gillan was too talented for this to be a failure. Opener 'Trashed' moves at pace, basic heavy metal with Gillan's usual double entendre lyrics proving a change of pace for Sabbath. 'Stonehenge' is a short, mysterious synth intro to the clattering 'Disturbing The Priest', with lyrics involving 'the force of the devil' more to true Sabbath tastes. A Sabbath doom classic. 'Zero The Hero' influenced such punsters like Gun's N' Roses with it's main heavy riff (go and listen to 'Paradise City') hitting hard in turn. 'Digital Bitch' never lets up, the band getting up a head of steam, clinically precise metal. The title was no doubt enough to annoy Ozzy die hards. The title track is a lighter affair, Gillan in prime form, proving he still had the screams! As for 'Hot Line', well the title says it all, slightly raunchy metal with a near AOR chorus. This is for me definitive Sabbath. Listening to this you could practically imagine the red faced Sabbath fans at the time. Nice one Ian! 'Keep It Warm' relies on a doomy Iommi riff, but with Gillan's particular style it's hardly menacing. I wonder to this day what the lyric 'keep it warm rat' is supposed to mean.

In Summary
Quite a phenomenal effort, and one that most have conceded to over the last twenty years. The scars of Ozzy and Dio were still fresh back then, making this a painful experience for die hards. It was all downhill from there for 'Deep Sabbath' though. Gillan was dissatisfied with the production (indeed rather thin, not quite full for maximum effect) and the hokum cover, featuring a devil baby, furthering derision for the lineup. The tour made things worse, ex ELO drummer Bev Bevan sat in for Ward (and Gillan's image was at odds?), and Gillan had lyrics taped to the floor, angering fans even more. The final nail had to be Sabbath performing 'Smoke On The Water' at the 1983 Reading Festival, with a huge Stonehenge stage set obscuring them totally. Gillan soon bowed out after a US tour, rejoining Deep Purple shortly after, leaving Sabbath without a vocalist yet again.

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#1 | vinyldinosaurus on February 04 2008 21:00:48
This album has aged surprisingly well. Gillan's vocals and lyrics are the best of his career. The drums are certainly too wet but it doesn't diminish the overall sound of the mix.
#2 | Eric on February 04 2008 21:57:24
While a fine musician, I don't think Bev Bevan was a good choice for drums here, but with ELO was on it's last legs I'm sure Don Arden did it as a favor. Just my guess.hmm!
#3 | jefflynnefan on February 05 2008 01:48:58

I think it was because Bev and Tony were great friends. They were even in a club band together along with UK comedian Jasper Carrot called 'Belch'. 'Belch' played together at their country club in Birmingham. It probably came from that, maybe. Did you know that before the Move Bev was in a band with Denny Laine? The band was Denny Laine and the Diplomats with Denny, Bev, Mike Hopkins, Phil Ackrill and Jimmy Onlsow. ELO/Moody Blues/Black Sabbath were all from Birmingham. Sorry I didn't mean to hijack this BS thread.
#4 | Eric on February 05 2008 02:42:39
You are probably right Chris. Yeah, I know about the Denny Laine connection. I am a huge fan (actually watching some Laine vids on Youtube earlier this evening, so your timing with this post was perfect!) In fact I wil be reviewing Laine's 'Ahh Laine!' album here shortly. Do you know of the Denny Laine String Band? Supposedly this very similar to the direction ELO would take a few years later, or so I've read...hmm!
#5 | reyno-roxx on June 29 2008 19:35:39
One of my old mate Krusher Joule's most, uh, memorable album covers! :0)
#6 | jeffduran on June 30 2008 06:10:44
fed into America's fear of Satanism in music around this time-pre P.M.R.C. BS. Not my favorite but includes a few fist pounders!
#7 | shelf stacker on October 03 2008 11:56:45
Always loved this album - heavy, atmospheric and more direct than some of Sabbath's more ponderous moments. I even think the cover artwork is great despite being pretty universally derided. What, so the blurry, beardy 'warrior' in tights and crash helmet on the cover of Paranoid or Bill Ward's Y-fronts and tights combo (I see a theme developing here) on the cover of Sabotage, are preferable??
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