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Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath (1970-1978)

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★★★★½
(136 Reviews)

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  • 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

    Posted on November 15, 2009