One of the downsides of having such a big music collection like I have is that sometimes it will take me years after buying an album before I actually sit down and listen to it thoroughly from start to finish. The Mob Rules was unfortunately one of those albums. I put off really listening to it for several, silly reasons…one was the album title itself, which seemed so..umm…MOBBISH! Another reason was the cover, which I thought was a bit disturbing, even for this band! And my third reason was the songs themselves, which somehow didn’t impress me too much the first time around.
Well, I am happy to report that after listening to this album OVER AND OVER again this past month, that I now absolutely love it. Is it as good as ‘ Heaven and Hell ‘? Probably not, but for the time being, I actually like it better, probably due to the fact that I’m not as familiar with it. As with it’s predecessor (or it’s two or three predecessors), the first half is much stronger than the second half, though I’m finding that I really like the last two songs quite a bit now. This is also a terrific sounding album, especially the bass guitar and drums. Not only was this Sab’s second album with Dio, it was also their second album with producer/engineer Martin Birch, who once again, seems to have brought out the best in bassist Geezer Butler. The drumming, too, by Vinnie Appice, is outstanding, particularly on the album’s centerpiece, ‘ The Sign of the Southern Cross ‘.
The album starts off with a fast and heavy one, “Turn Up The Night”, not one of the strongest lead off tracks on a Sabbath album, but still darn good in its own right. ‘Voodoo’ is another good song, but the album really picks up with seven minute plus ‘ The Sign of the Sothern Cross ‘, which is easily my favorite tune here. The whole band sounds great on this…I love Iommi’s guitar riff and the spooky synthesizers underneath it, Dio’s lyrics, and Appice’s drumming, which I think may be his best ever; I love all of those drum fills he tosses in! ‘ E5150 ‘ is an eerie and atmospheric keyboard and synthesizer and effects driven instrumental, that leads right into the kick butt title track, another fast one along the lines of ‘Turn Up The Night’ only much better.
The second half starts off with what I think is it’s two weakest tunes, ‘ Country Girl ‘, which has an Irish Pub singalongable quality about it during the verses, and the throwaway track ‘ Slipping Away ‘, on which Geezer gets a chance to play some bass solos. The last two tracks are somewhat better…I particularly like the fast part during ‘Falling off the Edge of the World ‘ and ‘ Over and Over’, though somewhat repetitous, has some great soloing from Iommi…though they are not on par with the great stuff from the first half.
So, this album is heavy, has some great songs, and it sounds terrific when played loud. What more could one ask from a Black Sabbath album?