Right, let’s start with what a box set should consist of. Personally, I want something that’s going to wow me and have me waiting for the post in anticipation of its arrival. Sure there are some that try to be innovative like the Keith Richards box sets with the elasticated straps and pouches but it’s called a box set for a reason and when they cost a pretty penny I want it housed in a sturdy box that will last.
I want it to look like a box, open like a box and contain extras like a nice book from the time period may be a replica laminate or some badges that type of thing and to be fair BMG deliver on the box set front and what you see is attention to detail and a quality finish for your hard-earned. From the mini replica CD slipcases that house the disc in Japanese disco bags is a nice touch as is the tour poster but to give credit where its due is the book that’s packed with loving detail and really informative labour of love a real credit to the Sabbath catalogue and a box set well worth owning.
Originally released in 1975 (when Sabbath was worse for wear from certain substances and off the pitch wranglings so to speak), the album is so-called because the band felt the recording process was being sabotaged by their former manager Patrick Meehan. The band fired him as they felt they were being tucked up, and he sued them in turn, with lawyers serving writs to the band in the studio. The tales from all four in the band are well known, and the enclosed book expands on those stories.
The book contains very in-depth liner notes, and rare pictures, live shots and rare editions of the album. I think really helps when you can see the passion put into the release.
Then there are 4 CDs in card sleeves and the first is the original album, with its famous cover showing the band facing the same way in the mirror’s reflection. The original concept to signify sabotage was itself sabotaged (ie the black costumes not appearing before a rushed photo shoot) and it was too late to the change the idea, Bill Ward wearing his wife’s red leggings still makes me giggle as to how it makes him look and with it being on the album sleeve he must have been off his trolly.
The opening track Hole In The Sky is classic Sabbath, it’s a great riff, raw and heavy (something influenced by the tension in the studio caused by the legal issues). followed by the juxtaposed ‘Don’t Start’, an acoustic instrumental showcasing Iommi but something of an interlude for me and my love of instrumentals. Heavyweight ‘Symptom Of The Universe’ both in riff and quality of songwriting its classic Sabbath.
‘Megalomania’, is something of a marathon clocking in at 9 minutes. really is of its time as it ebbs and flows from piano with a progy touch, weird harmonies but always with one eye on that Sabbathcrunch and heaviness.
Having a 4 minute instrumental is also a bit dated and certainly of its time. single is Am I Going Insane (Radio) is another swerve as it turns up the amps again before closing out on ‘The Writ’ again another lengthy number.
Possibly not as commercially accessible with some of the band’s other albums it is worthy of the expansion and maybe time will be kind to this album and people will indulge in the whole package and gaze upon this album with fresh eyes and of course ears.
Discs 2 and 3 are a live show from the 1975 ‘Sabotage’ tour of North American tour, previously unreleased in its entirety. It does have a bit of a high-quality bootleg feel to it having some of; ‘Volume 4’ tracks left in is great to hear alongside classic Sabbath tunes.
Modern rock fans might need to get their heads around having two jams that do go on a bit (13 minutes in fact) guitar and drum solos intact and present respectively.
With no more bonus material or studio tunes that hit the cutting room floor available it only leaves disc 4 which is a replica of a Japanese single of ‘Am I Going Insane’ (Radio) / ‘Hole In The Sky’.
History is written of one of the least popular Sabbath original line up albums but with this loving upgrade it’s something that can stand shoulder to shoulder with previous lavish box sets from the Sabbath catalogue. Excellent packaging that really does justify its price tag. Hopefully, BMG will continue making the Sabbath Boxsets and seeing as there are only two more albums to cover of the original line up it would be a shame to stop now.
Author: Dom Daley