I’ve understandably been in a bit of a Sabbath mood lately, but this time I’ve decided to revisit the classic Ozzy era (the era where Tony Iommi took center stage, something you can see here). I’ve chosen this little historical document: ten songs filmed at a live performance at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1978. This was released on VHS all the way back in 1980, and saw a DVD release later in the early 2000s.
The picture quality is good, especially for the 70s. It’s well-lit, and pretty clear too. The sound is a little lacking though. Whether it’s the production, or the tape used to capture the show, it’s severely lacking in the heaviness you’d expect from Sabbath. Opener “Symptom of the Universe” sounds more chaotic and frenzied than it does heavy. Perhaps a reflection of the band at the time as well.
In addition to the Sabotage classic, we also get rare performances of some of the songs from Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die. From the former it’s “Rock ’N’ Roll Doctor” (which would actually pop back up in 1983 with Ian Gillan on vocals) and the enduring “Dirty Women”, a Sabbath song that I’m actually quite fond of. And from Never Say Die we get the title track, my favorite song from that album, and probably the best one too. And, of course, there are plenty of classic songs from the 1970-1975 era as well.
It’s not a bad collection of songs at all, but there’s just one thing holding it back for me: Ozzy’s singing. He’s got this odd sound here. A little gargly, especially on the more strenuous parts. It honestly sounds like he needs to just clear his throat and hock a big one to the side of the stage and he’ll be right and clear again. But he didn’t, so unfortunately a lot of the songs on here can be a tough listen at times, rendering other performances better. “Symptom of the Universe” is the most notable one. It isn’t terrible, but it’s the reason I very rarely visit this disc.
The verdict- 3.5/5 stars