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Published February 21 2017

The Best of Black Sabbath

Written by Jason Warren

ew musical acts, if any, can say that they created an entire genre, but that distinction belongs to Black Sabbath. The late 1960s brought some heavy sounds with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Steppenwolf, each of which may be considered to have contributed to the roots of hard rock. However, not until the Birmingham, England-based Black Sabbath broke onto the scene in 1970 was the genre of heavy metal born. The original lineup of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward Inspired thousands of would-be metalheads to take up the call of the irons.

The Original Lineup

eginning with the release of the self-titled debut album in 1970 to approximately 1976, Black Sabbath had its golden period. During this time, the band produced most of its seminal albums, including what most followers consider to be Sabbath's best, Paranoid. Only eight tracks are on the album, with side one of the vinyl featuring an aural explosion of classic metal with "War Pigs," "Paranoid," "Planet Caravan" and "Iron Man." Released In September 1970, just six months after the band's debut, Paranoid brought to fruition the possibilities that were hinted at on "Black Sabbath." The first album remains a favorite among Sabbath fans and is considered to be one of music's most eponymous works thanks to the title track and the song "N.I.B."

he other albums produced during this period, Master of Reality, Vol.4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage are also considered classics. The last release of this period, 1976's Technical Ecstasy is an attempt to explore new musical directions. While not quite up to the level of the previous six works, it still merits a top ten finish thanks to tracks like "Back Street Kids" and "Dirty Women." Other notable songs from this period include "Children of the Grave," "Sweet Leaf," "After Forever" and "Into the Void" from "Master of Reality." 1973's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is sometimes deemed the group's prog album with Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman present on many of the tracks. The best work off this album is the mesmerizing "Spiral Architect," one of the best songs they have ever made.

The Ronnie James Dio Years

ntense discord and substance abuse crippled the original lineup in the late 1970s and led to the firing of Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath experienced a monumental rebirth in the early 1980s after hiring vocalist Ronnie James Dio to front the band. The group's 1980 release, Heaven and Hell, is considered by its fan base to be among the top five Black Sabbath albums. The former Rainbow singer rejuvenated the band that had been in decline for years through his rich melodic voice and poetic lyrics. Highlights here are the album's colossal title track, the atmospheric "Children of the Sea" and the ultra-heavy "Neon Nights." With these treasures, Dio is often considered to be the greatest metal singer of all time. Almost as good was 1981's Mob Rules, the first Sabbath work recorded without drummer Bill Ward. The album's masterpiece is "Sign of the Southern Cross," a seven-minute mini-epic that combines Dio's vocals with Iommi's eerie guitar riffs.

Jason hails from New York City where he is a marketing associate by day and blogger by night. He is a music fanatic who is constantly attending shows and writing about them.

You can reach out to him at jason@usssportsmachine.com.