Well folks, here we are again as the Sabbath catalogue gets another Super Deluxe version on both CD and Vinyl and once again to be fair to whoever is curating these reissues much like the Motorhead ones these are some of the best box sets out there from the packaging to its content a lot of love has been poured onto these reissues and be it the box office Sabbath biggies or the lesser releases they all have the same quality and eye to detail. ‘Technical Ecstasy’ is no exception, from the mini-poster to the four-CD packages it’s top-notch in the reissue department.
The reprint mini-tour book is quality even if I do need my readers to dive into the text as is the period reflected in the hardback book that’s included. Man, these gents were into their satin even as punk broke they were oblivious somewhat. Iommi sat in the produces chair for this the seventh studio release from the original line up and whilst it has one foot in the prog camp there is also an indication of the direction that Ozzy would head sooner rather than much later.
Maybe Sabbath was for the first time taking their cues from elsewhere rather than leading the genre and with the heavy influence of Gerald Woodroffe’s swirling keyboards the band couldn’t be accused of standing still from the proggy opener of ‘Back Street Kids’ through the swirling keyboards creating a good foil for Iommi’s doom-laden riffs on ‘You Won’t Change Me’ is a good example as Iommi and Woodroffe trade solos whilst the rhythm section gets that Sabbath heaviness anchored down. The Beatles tinged ‘It’s Alright’ is one of the best tracks on offer for me and has stood the test of time and proven that Ward didn’t need a bucket to carry a tune on his moment in the sunshine. Then there’s ‘Gypsy’ again with its keyboard-driven workout.
Side two of the album sees the band go for a groovy workout where they get their collective funk on ‘All Moving Parts (Stand Still)’. I do however love the groove the band gets on ‘Rock And Roll Doctor’ throwing another curveball by just jamming out a real Rock and Roller when everything else screams trying hard to be hip and adventurous it’s as if they just decided to go easy and rock out. Then step forward ‘She’s Gone’ the album’s hushed acoustic introed song with strings n all and a chance for Ozzy to try out what he would later perfect through his solo career. Then to close it’s Dirty Women’ and on reflection, it’s a decent album and unpackaging the extras this labor of love has unearthed some new mixes and the usual Instrumental mixes of tracks like ‘She’s Gone’. As for the hardback book, well, it’s full of great pictures and well-researched Japanese single sleeves as well as interview snippets from the band and a well-covered history of the mid 70s Sabbath for the hardcore fans and newcomers alike. But for me, the treat inside the box of goodies is the live album – recorded on the 76-77 world tour.
Mixing together classic Sabbath from the awesome ‘Symptoms Of The Universe’, ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Black Sabbath’ there is also room for ‘Technical Ecstasy’ tracks like ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Dirty Women’ the quality of this live recording is exceptional and through a decent pair of headphones it’s like being sat next to the sound engineer with Bill Ward’s bass drum sounding as big as an arena all by its self. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and actually played a drum solo and Guitar solo on a record but they are here in all their glory and the one thing that stands out is what a powerhouse Bill Ward is – absolutely outstanding. Capping it all off with the monster that is ‘Children Of The Grave’ and whilst listening it makes me smile that the reproduction tour book also has all those tour ads intact especially the £2.50 tour shirt imagine what one of those would be worth in 2021? Wow!
So in a nutshell of course its a no brainer for Sabbath fans old and young this is another of those box sets that is a must-have and another exceptional package to while away the hours and marvel at the masters of heavy metal and what a class act they really were even when they weren’t at their best they were still better than most.
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Author: Dom Daley