Black Sabbath - Black Box - The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978
Classic Heavy Metal
Disc 1: 11 songs () Disc 2: 8 songs () Disc 3: 8 songs () Disc 4: 12 songs () Disc 5: 8 songs () Disc 6: 8 songs () Disc 7: 8 songs () Disc 8: 9 songs () Disc 9: 4 songs ()
Release year: 2004
Black Sabbath, Rhino
Reviewed by Jeff

The purpose of this review is to focus more on the consumer related aspects of this release such as the sound quality, price and the material enclosed within.

Box sets. Sometimes they can be a cash grab for the record companies, enticing die hard fans to get something they really don't have to because of needless bonus material. Other times box sets can offer something really special that warrants shelling out a few extra hard earned bucks.

In the case of Black Sabbath's "Black Box - The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978", I felt there were a few things that made my decision to buy this very easy....

SOUND QUALITY: I'm a stickler for quality when it comes to sound and production. As classic albums in my CD collection become available as remasters, I try to upgrade the old ones. I originally bought the first 6 Black Sabbath albums with Ozzy on CD when they were distributed through Castle Communications, buying them as imports here in the states. The CD booklets did not have original artwork or lyrics. Each CD had a live bonus track taken from the hard to find "Live At Last" CD. Over all, the sound quality on these discs were thin. As far as the last two Black Sabbath albums with Ozzy, they were available through Warner Brothers domestically in the US. They included the original packaging and artwork and sounded good for what they were worth, being they were priced as "Super Savers"; CD's that were sold below the normal prices. Now that Rhino Records has re-released the first 8 Black Sabbath albums with newly remastered sound, it gives the listener a broader range and perspective to each note being sung and played. There is a world of difference between the original discs and these new remasters. Unlike the original CD's, where you have to crank the volume all the way up just to get some bottom end from the stereo, you can now turn it to a reasonable level and are able to hear everything. The audio fidelity is much better on the remasters. There is much more bottom end on the low frequencies and there's a crisp and clear presence on the higher frequencies. You can really see the difference if you rip the CD's to MP3 and play them on Winamp, while monitoring the spectrum analyzer. The sound quality alone warrants the purchase. It's light years better than the original discs.

PRICE: Most of the Black Sabbath albums are available separately as remasters, but as imports out of Europe. Price wise, most of these can range anywhere from $15 to $20 each! This box set includes the first 8 Black Sabbath studio releases with Ozzy. I bought this box set through the BMG music service and paid $72.12! I probably saved myself $20 from buying it in the store and even more had I upgraded each one separately. So if you want to look at it this way, each CD roughly comes to $9. Definately worth the savings.

PACKAGING: Though I prefer discs that come in hard cases, the ones included with this box set are digipaks. I found the discs were very snug and hard to remove from the plastic ring holders. They all contain the original artwork and lyrics. They are separated into two slip case boxes of four. An 80-page black felt covered book features rare archival photos, two-part liner notes, complete lyrics and an extensive timeline. I felt the material within the book was very detailed and informative. As a side note, the digipak version of the first "Black Sabbath" album contains the song "Evil Woman", which was originally available on the Castle Communications version minus "Wicked World".

BONUS DVD: Though not the main reason why I bought this box set, it's a nice addition to the total package. There is live footage of Black Sabbath performing "Black Sabbath", "Paranoid", and "Iron Man". Some of these performances could be considered a template or a premonition of what was to come, before MTV debuted music videos. The "Paranoid" and "Iron Man" performances ended up being used as videos for MTV's "Headbangers Ball". There is also a very rare live performance of "Blue Suede Shoes" from the German television show, THE BEAT CLUB. The "Black Sabbath", "Paranoid", and "Iron Man" videos are very psychedelic looking. Black Sabbath looked very grungy and scary back then!

Over all, the music of Black Sabbath speaks volumes. For me and many others, they are the first true heavy metal band. This box set is an excellent testament to what Black Sabbath (with Ozzy) has contributed to music. This box set is a must have and worth upgrading the original discs that were on Warner Brothers and Castle Communications. I highly recommend it!


Killing Songs :
Take your pick! There are many to choose from....
Jeff quoted no quote
Other albums by Black Sabbath that we have reviewed:
Black Sabbath - 13 reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Black Sabbath - Classic Albums - Paranoid (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Black Sabbath - Headless Cross reviewed by Adam and quoted 81 / 100
Black Sabbath - Forbidden reviewed by Khelek and quoted 65 / 100
Black Sabbath - Mob Rules reviewed by Khelek and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 22 reviews click here
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