Greatest Hits 1970-1978
Rhino (R2 73365)
?What is this that stands before me? A figure in black?? Has there ever been a more foreboding first-line, first-song, first-album combination than the opening moments of Black Sabbath?s debut album? Or a more determined statement of intent than the sepulchral bell and peeling thunder that precedes the first speaker-shattering chime of guitars that ushers Ozzy Osbourne in, in the first place? In terms of making a point, Black Sabbath could have broken up there and then and their impact would probably still be the same.
Of course they didn?t, and 36 years later, the collectors? shelf creaks beneath the accumulated weight of the band?s back catalog. For most fans, however, the only period that really counts is the eight albums in as many years that they cut before Osbourne left for the first time (actually, it was the second, but nobody noticed the first) in 1978. If you really want to be precise about such things, you could probably cut that span in half and say Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was the last album that truly counted, and everything after was just habit and reflex.
In that scenario, the only Black Sabbath compilation that matters is the first one ever to appear, the appallingly titled but brilliantly executed We Sold Our Souls For Rock ?N? Roll, a double-set that pulled one song from the then-recently released Sabotage but otherwise called it quits in 1973. Every Sabbath compilation since has followed the same wisdom, and though this latest set makes a token stab at broadening the palette, no one will mind if you switch it off after track 12 ? ?Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,? of course.
Prior to that, it?s more or less Sabbath-by-numbers ? ?NIB,? ?War Pigs,? ?Iron Man,? ?Paranoid,? ?Sweet Leaf,? ?Children Of The Grave? and ?Snowblind.? Feeling persnickety, it?s easy to point out a few glaring omissions ? no ?Tomorrow?s Dream,? no ?Into The Void? and no ?Electric Funeral.? But Sabbath favorites and Sabbath classics are not necessarily the same thing, which is why the four selections from the later albums are familiar titles, even if they?re not the best tracks those records had to offer. No ?Am I Going Insane,? no ?Megalomania,? no ?Hard Road? ? no matter! Greatest Hits, greatest bits, it?s primal Sabbath from start to almost-finish, and really, that?s all that counts.
If you have the original albums, you don?t need this, but if you want to hear what we used to think the end of the world might sound like, step right this way.