I just went out and bought this today at Sam Goody and I must say this is AWESOME. I have all thier albums and the Beat Club Footage, but according to http://www.black-sabbath.com these versions sound the best, and Joe’s right. All the albums are crystal clear and alot of stuff on them I’ve never heard because the clarity on my others aren’t this good. The Beat Club Footage must have been revamped to because it looks and sounds better than the Black Mass LP that I have it on. I am probably one of the biggest Black Sabbath fans around and believe me, if you are too, you will not be dissappointed with this set. It is essential.
You’ll want this for the packaging alone. A matte black box with high gloss black ink, the set includes all 8 Ozzy era Sabbath slabs plus DVD with 5 performances. 80 page black suede book includes notes, celebrity praise and timeline.© 2004 RhinoOne can make the case that the Beatles, while the most important band of all time, wasn’t the most influential. Decades after Black Sabbath laid down the commandments of heavy metal–lyrically, not for the squeamish; musically, dynamic and resolutely heavy–their impact remains improbably undiminished. One needed only to hear the first notes of the eponymous track on their eponymous 1970 debut to know that a new régime had arrived. And while one could (and should!) have mocked them, they would not be stopped. Black Box includes the eight albums recorded between 1970 and 1978 by the founding lineup–Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, Ozzy Osbourne, and Geezer Butler–in one suitably weighty package. Forgoing bonus tracks (aside from an entertaining but brief four-track DVD extra), the box is rounded off with an impressive 80-page booklet. While the foursome was considerably less fearsome by the time they checked out with Never Say Die, more than half of this collection represents heavy metal with a lasting impact. –Steven Stolder
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Well, after reading a lot of reviews, and hearing people talk about how long they’ve been listening to Sabbath, let me add my take on The Box. I have been listening to the mighty Sabs since 1970 – yeah, I’m that old, but what a thrill to have been able to discover each album upon its release. Since then and forever, they are my favorite band of all time. I bought the Castle remasters a few years ago, and compared to the vinyl I had, WOW – what an incredible sonic difference. I have always felt that the Castles were an excellent remastering, along with great packaging (raised lettering on the “Master of Reality” sleeve, for Chrissake!). The box set masters, to me, don’t really sound much different. I’m listening through new $900 Klipsch speakers, 5.1 channels through an Onkyo receiver. Both pretty equal (other than the hardly-noticeable-till-you-read-about-them dropouts in a few songs). The packaging – well, not that impressed. Where are the additional photos from “Volume 4″? The inner-sleeve production info on “Never Say Die”? All on the Castles, but not here. Sonically, perhaps the volume was pumped on the new versions, but the remasterings are not that different to my ears. But it’s all really a moot point. The sound is superb, but I have yet to see any mention of the excellent production by early producer Roger Bain in any of the reviews I’ve read. Sabbath’s sound made a noticeable change to a less-ominous, less-heavy direction with the fourth album (and new producer), meaning that Bain really was the one who gave us the sound we now know literally CREATED the genre of heavy-metal. I really wish we could hear more about, and from, this most unsung hero of the Sabbath sound. Imagine if another producer had been hired instead of Bain – perhaps the dark, thunderous, genre-defining sound of Black Sabbath as we know it may never have come to fruition! Love live Roger Bain!!
Whenever someone asks me “What’s your favorite band?” I always reply with the following: Black Sabbath, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin…not necessarily in that order.It’s been a staple answer for 20 years, yet part of me has always felt like a liar for the last 10. I’ve burnt out on these bands.All of that changed Yesterday when I purchased the Iron Man/Paranoid single that Rhino released to promote this boxed set. I bought it “Just to see…” how much better these remasters really sounded. I’ve bought numerous quote-unquote remasters, reissues, boxed sets, compilations over the years and was always disappointed. 15 Minutes later, I was a proud owner of The Black Box. This set sounds like it was recorded *yesterday*. It is such a radical difference that these songs sound brand new and contemporary without actually being any different. Albums that were flat and muddy like Master of Reality and Technical Ecstasy are now vibrant and crisp. Hearing them like this, a lot of songs that might’ve been overlooked in the past are now enjoyable.The book is all fine and good…lots of self-congratulatory propaganda that you might expect…but the real deal within it’s pages are *official lyrics*. Finally! Not only am I hearing Sabbath with fresh ears, but also new understanding. A lot of the lyrics are a lot deeper than I’d ever known and it gives me new respect for the material.Black Sabbath is my favorite band, and I can proclaim it honestly again because of this set.For those who complain about no bonus tracks, lost tracks etc. I will say this: I trust Sabbath’s judgement on the matter. If there exists anything in the archives that is truly good, I’d expect them to hold on to it until they are absolutely too old to do anything but release them and collect a final paycheck to take them into their golden years. As of now, they could still reform and do a new studio album, which is what I would personally prefer.
Black Sabbath didn’t have the revolutionary recording techniques or melodic sophistication of Led Zeppelin, but in terms of sheer brawn, Sabbath is right up there among the greats. No classic-rock collection is complete without at least two or three of these eight records, and if you want the complete lexicon of heavy metal, you will find it here.This package is well conceived, classily packaged, with a velvet hard-covered book and the eight albums in Digipak format. Sabbath records in CD format never had much in terms of notes so the format is suitable. You will also get the complete lyrics in the book. The history of the band, written by Chris Welch and Brian Ives, is scanty and contains very little that you won’t find elsewhere (I actually found the liner notes to the Reunion live double CD more informative), but they are at least reverent enough about their subjects. Here is a disc-by-disc rundown:1. Black Sabbath: The debut album, ridiculed by critics, a dark-horse favourite among fans despite two very long, rambling jams. But worth it for ominous title track “Black Sabbath” alone, and “The Wizard” shows that this band wasn’t too bad at blues, its original chosen music style, either.2. Paranoid: This record is so legendary that in a way familiarity breeds contempt, but you still can’t deny the power of Tony Iommi’s massive guitar riffs. The underrated Geezer Butler/Bill Ward rhythm section comes into its own on “Paranoid” and the painfully slow groove of “Iron Man”, and Iommi’s crushing guitar tone keeps the very long “War Pigs” in focus.3. Master of Reality: Not one of my favourite Sabbath albums, this album was hurt by the muffled recording but remains a landmark nonetheless. The guitars on “Children of the Grave” remind me a little of Deep Purple, and “Into the Void”’s central riff is pretty much the blueprint for most of Slayer’s music in the past 20 years. Tony Iommi stretching out into melodic, quiet material on “Orchid”, “Embryo” and “Solitude” shows that this band was more versatile than given credit for.4. Vol. 4: Featuring one of the brasher mixes in this batch, Vol. 4 takes time to grow on you. “Supernaut”’s panoramic harmonized guitars are one of Iommi’s finest moments, and “Cornucopia” juxtaposes a deceptively cheery vocal melody with evil riffs and lyrics.5. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath: A metal classic, with the propelling title track being the standout. “A National Acrobat” utilizes a twin-guitar assault soon to be appropriated by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and “Spiral Architect” creates a fantastic sense of mystique.6. Sabotage: My personal favourite, this one contains the ten-minute tirade “Megalomania”, where Black Sabbath demonstrates how to write an immensely heavy slow part, then launches into one of its most searing rifforamas. “Hole in the Sky” is manic, and “Symptom of the Universe”’s megaton riff may well be the song that gave birth to the immensely influential Metallica rhythm guitar sound.7. Technical Ecstasy: Weaker than all the rest, this album seems to find the band losing its identity. Both sonically and arrangement-wise, Sabbath actually sounds a little like Blue Oyster Cult! If there’s one Sabbath record that sounds like it aspires towards arena rock, this is it — and it doesn’t suit the band well.8. Never Say Die!: The recording has improved marginally. “Breakout” is a great guitar track, and the title track points to the direction Ozzy Osbourne would take with his solo material.9. The bonus DVD: Those who have seen Black Sabbath’s black-and-white music video for “Paranoid” (yes, it exists) know that this band was very bad for the music-video treatment. Ozzy tends to stand around bobbing his head, and the band is rooted to the spot (when your drummer’s your most active performer, you know you’re not tailored for the camera). But the performances — live takes of “Iron Man”, “Paranoid”, “Black Sabbath” and a bizarre cover of “Blue Suede Shoes”, juiced up with cheesy ’70s effects — have a naive charm to them. Geezer’s bass is seriously out of tune with Iommi’s guitar, though. I also wish they would have included that black-and-white video of “Paranoid”.This boxed set is a great acquisition for collectors, superior in packaging than the earlier boxed set, The Complete ’70s Replica CD Collection. Better priced, too. Granted, it’s not for the casual peruser, and newcomers should probably just pick up Paranoid, Sabotage and the debut for an overview, but fans of the band who don’t own all these records can now pick them all up in one fell swoop. The price works out to less than if you picked each record up on its own, even though all these records can now be found in the bargain bin, and you get the bonus book and the DVD to boot.
My name is Joe Siegler and I run “Black Sabbath Online”. I have a much longer review of this disc at my site, but I had to crop it down to make it fit within Amazon’s 1000 word limit, so if you want to read my full review, hit http://www.black-sabbath.com.What is Black Box? It’s a 9 disc collection (8 audio CD’s, one DVD) comprising all the of the songs the original Black Sabbath released from 1970-1978.The albums themselves have an unbelievable sound quality never heard in these recordings before. It’s not like we have new songs here – these are after all the same songs released before. But they’ve never been heard like this before. I cannot stress how great these discs sound. I’ve been listening to Black Sabbath since 1981. I know these songs extremely well – EXTREMELY well. So much so that the slightest change is noticeable. Well, the sound range here is far more powerful than I’ve ever heard it before. Ever put in an old CD in your player, and it sounds flat, and a newer one you put in has a really rich, vibrant range? That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about here. In addition to the songs just sounding more powerful and cleaner, individual instruments are more noticeable here. There’s tons of places where I’ve heard drum fills by Bill Ward that I’ve never heard before. It’s very cool finding bits in songs you’ve heard God knows how many times over the years. Coupled with the fact that the albums have a sonic power that I can’t recall the songs having before make this by far the version to get – even if you already own all these albums.That brings me to another point. The notion that Black Sabbath is just “out for money” by releasing this set without a ton of extras. In running my Black Sabbath site at http://www.black-sabbath.com I see a lot of feedback on various things, and ever since Black Box was originally announced ages ago, the #1 thing I think I’ve heard is something along the lines of “Where are the rarities? Where are The Rebel, and Song for Jim? What kind of cheap ass set is this without the extras?” No, they’re not here. In fact, the only “oddity” songs on this set are “Evil Woman” from the first album, and “Blow on a Jug” from Sabotage. If you’re looking to buy this based on the recent trend of other box sets to include rare songs and things like that, you WILL be disappointed. But if you’re interested in how the songs SOUND, then my god, this is for you.And that’s just the music. There’s other stuff here, too. The ninth disc is a DVD which contains what’s known as the “Beat Club footage”, which comprises four songs. The four songs are “Iron Man”, “Paranoid, “Black Sabbath”, and the rather loose cover of “Blue Suede Shoes”. This footage (well, not Blue Suede Shows) is also used on MTV as “videos” and the like, most of this stuff won’t be new to most people, but it’s nice to have it here. It does appear to be a bit cleaner than the VHS release of this stuff that happened some time ago.The packaging itself is rather Black. I say that because the box itself is Black, and the writing on the box is also black, so it’s not terribly visible when viewed straight on. Inside the box are two smaller boxes, each containing four CD’s. Each of those four CD’s are the 8 individual Sabbath studio albums with Ozzy. Each is in it’s own digipak style packaging – it’s not jewel case packaging. On the front and back sides of the individual CD cases are the original front and back cover art that appeared on the albums as they were released ages ago. Inside the digpaks are art that I believe appeared on the original print vinyl sleeves as released originally. So much so that albums that had lyrics on their original vinyl sleeves are reproduced here, too (much to small to read without hurting your eyes). I haven’t seen a vinyl print of Sabotage in ages, and it was funny to see the guys backsides again like that. The CD’s themselves have the same kind of “black on black” print that the exterior of the box has. The logos on the individual CD’s match the lettering used on the original artwork for the albums, a nice touch – it’s not standard lettering across all of them. Overall, nice packaging of the albums – no complaints here.Anyway, the biggest “new” item would be the booklet. It’s a 77 page hardcover booklet, which is covered in black velvet. Let me say this. When you pick up, don’t have your hands dirty. It looks like it’ll pick up dirt pretty easily. It’s got a very nice feeling in your hands. It’s got no writing or lettering on the outside, save for that Sabbath flying angel logo we’ve seen many times before. There’s a few portions to the book. There are two stories of the band, a Sabbath timeline, and finally, some “official” lyrics. This should put to rest some long standing debates over some Sab lyrics. There’s much goodness in here.This is a wonderful package, both from the looks to the sounds, to the booklet. Get it. Your ears will thank you.MAKE NO MISTAKE. Black Box is the most definitive version of the original eight albums by Black Sabbath. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION.Joe Sieglerhttp://www.black-sabbath.com