Black Sabbath - Born Again - Deluxe Edition
Given the illustrious history and huge success of Black Sabbath it was only natural that, even after the acrimonious departure of Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice in 1982, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler would want to continue with the band. The return of Bill Ward on drums only hardened their resolve and thus they made what looked to be a perfect piece of recruitment by adding the legendary ex-Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan to their ranks. The only album from this short lived collaboration was Born Again (here given the now obligatory deluxe edition), which was not well received at the time by either fans or critics. Much as I’d like to say the passing of nearly three decades has been kind to this much derided album the truth is, it has not.
Things start off badly with the debauched and embarrassing 'Trashed' that, with a bit of quality control, would have never seen the light of day, yet alone be the opener on a much anticipated album. Sadly, it doesn’t get better from there. Song after song passes by with nothing of any interest blaring out of the speakers, until the gloriously dark melancholia of the title track provides the only respite from the utter mundanity on display. It is a blessed relief when the final chords of ‘Keep It Warm’ fade away, but the heart sinks as the need to plough through the second disc rears its ugly head.
‘The Fallen’, a previously unreleased studio outtake kicks off the bonus disc and it’s a real mystery as to how this fast and furious rocket was left on the studio floor as it is better than almost everything on the final release. A tortuous extended version of ‘Stonehenge’ follows before the we get the BBC Radio Friday Rock Show broadcast of their Reading Festival headline performance. Gillan delivers the new material well enough but his voice really does not suit such Sabbath classics as ‘War Pigs’ and ’Iron Man’ and you just want it all to end. A full throated but incongruous take on ‘Smoke on The Water’ gives way to an awful run through of ‘Paranoid’ before, finally the pain is over.
Given a deluxe treatment it doesn’t deserve this release will surely only be of interest to Sabbath completists. Any one else would be well advised to stick with any one of their earlier, brilliant albums or those of Deep Purple and the largely forgotten - but often excellent - Gillan solo albums rather than forking out for this dismal document of a hugely misjudged career move.