Black Sabbath was in turbulent waters. Having let go of the iconic Ozzy Osbourne and missing the golden vocals of Ronnie James Dio, things seemed bleak. Yet, Tony Iommi remained unyielding, dedicated to churning out unparalleled metal masterpieces.
One unassuming evening in 1983, Tony walked into a pub, expecting a regular night with friends. He was joined by Geezer Butler and the erstwhile vocalist of Deep Purple, Ian Gillan. What followed next was unexpected – they woke up to find Gillan as the latest addition to Black Sabbath. Or so the stories say. This led to the birth of “Born Again” on September 12, 1983. Let’s delve deeper into this intriguing chapter of Black Sabbath and shed light on its underrated brilliance in 2023, sprinkled with fun tidbits from this tumultuous period.
The Strange Turn of Events…
Although tales are often exaggerated, Ian Gillan did indeed collaborate with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and a returning Bill Ward, who had battled his personal struggles. It started off as a planned supergroup, but by the end of the recording sessions, pressure from the record label and the formidable Don Arden forced them to use the Black Sabbath moniker. It wasn’t a first for Iommi to be in such a situation, but this time, resistance was futile. Geezer candidly revealed his initial reservations but has since come to terms with it.
Combining the vocal prowess of Gillan with Black Sabbath’s signature sound was unconventional, to say the least. Even as a standalone project, it would’ve been seen as unorthodox. Gillan, reminiscing in 2006, described his year-long stint with Black Sabbath as “an endless festivity.”
Black Sabbath wasn’t known for albums with a consistent theme. Yet, “Born Again” was a rollercoaster. It may seem disjointed, especially considering the mix, but therein lay its charm. Despite facing criticism, it achieved commendable commercial success upon its release. Fans might’ve been taken aback, but undeniably, there were tracks that resonated.
The album is a goldmine of raw, untapped potential. It’s characterized by its unconventionality and this, in many ways, enhances its allure.
Consider “Disturbing the Priest.” A fierce metal anthem boasting an eccentric and suspenseful intro riff. Couple that with the “Stonehenge” prelude, and you have an exhilarating musical journey.