Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Black Sabbath - Born Again

Born Again was Black Sabbath’s third (or forth) attempt at rejuvenating the Black Sabbath moniker with a new lead vocalist, this time featuring former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillian.

The pairing sounds great on paper, but Born Again is proof that lightning does not strike twice-even when the men in the clouds are responsible for two of the most important hard rock bands in history.

Born Again begins with “Trashed,” another one of Gillian’s “shit that happened while we were recording the album” lyrics (see the much, much better “Smoke On The Water”). Tony Iommi shows signs of Side One/Track One fatigue (typically, his shinning moment) by lifting an almost identical riff to “Neon Nights,” the first song of Dio's tenure.

“Trashed” details an incident where Gillian arrived to the Manor Studios drunk, took Bill Ward’s car and crashed it on a closed go cart track on the grounds. Before you start laughing that he wrecked the thing on a fucking go cart track, add to your visuals the sight of said car exploding into flames as Gillian walked from the wreckage.

The close encounter with death didn’t seem to impact Gillian, who uses the lessons he learned from the incident to "thank Mr. Miracle" (this is a Black Sabbath album, after all, no thanking the Lord) and getting back to some additional inebriation.

The prose was captured on a napkin, including this intriguing couplet:

"Went back to the bar and hit the bottle again but there was no tequila
And started on the whiskey just to steady our brains ‘cuz there was no tequila.”

Evidently, Gillian was too drunk to realize that he ended one line with the exact same one he just finished.

“Trashed,” by the way, is the best song on Born Again.

When you’re faced with a brush with death, the next thing you do is follow up the song with a song about Stonehenge.

Much has been said about the pointless instrumental track “Stonehenge” and how it inspired the infamous Stonehenge stage set in Spinal Tap, but nobody seems to point out how the other instrumental track “The Dark” features a guest appearance by Chewbacca.

“Disturbing The Priest” addresses an incident where Sabbath received a bunch of complaints by a neighborhood priest while practicing at their rehearsal space. It features Gillian endlessly cackling and wailing "disturbing the prieeeeestyeaaaahhhh" repeatedly while Iommi struggles to find a riff to work with. It’s as if everyone had a good laugh coming up with the song title, but nobody thought about finishing the tune.

That’s a good representation of Born Again, a record devoid of any memorable tunes, riffs, or lyrics. It is an embarrassment to everyone involved and it suggests that all parties involved must immediately forfeit their rights from ever using the name Black Sabbath or Deep Purple again. It is the work of grown men acting like monkeys with Born Again a metaphoric turd being thrown at anyone who bought a ticket to this ammonia scented zoo.

The album artwork has correctly been singled out as one of the worst covers in the history recorded music, but the reality is that it is nothing compared to the horrorshow found on the music inside.

1 comment:

actuallythatsnotchocolate said...

You're killing me baby, you're killing me. Pull it out, it hurts....

Born Again is my heavy album award-winner for 1983. Which to me is like saying they won the space-car contest in The Jetsons, because 1983 was THE year for heavy music.....

As a matter of fact, I have that album cover literally custom-framed in wood & glass.....because bitches dig it, of course.....

I still remember as a teenager seeing Ian Gillan (although I didn't know who he was then) on TV, hunched over the mike, looking like 'Cousin It', singing Zero the Hero.

Quoth the raven: "Your face is normal, that's the way you're bred, & that's the way it's gonna stay, heh, it's firmly nailed to the TV channel, but someone else's finger's on the control panel"

My fiend, if that isn't what metal is about....then what is?

From reading your column, it sounds like you found that YouTube documentary on the making of Born Again. I found that by accident for the first time yesterday- great, great stuff. I was tickled to hear elder Gillan still praise the album. So many times, bands are quick to disown their less popular works, but he had good memories.

It is quite clear that certain albums can only be made at certain times. Over & over one hears a band say that they would be unable to conceptualize- much less record- an album from their past.

It's not just a matter of honesty. I believe alot of shallow musical tripe may be's honesty from someone with a mind of tripe.....

But the energy & aggression & irreverence & humor that punches through on Born Again is not only honest- it could only come from a band drunkenly trodding upon their dwarf. Party on, Garth......If you didn't come to party, take your candy-ass home, biyotch.

Which makes it all the more curious that, by his report, this was the first album Bill Ward drummed while sober.

In any event, I'd like to briefly mention 1983 in general before returning to huffing gas & beating my wife. I can- without too much effort- come up with maybe 6 albums from that year which would make legitimate Heavy Album Award Winners. Some years there are zero.

Maybe I'll look to see if you have such rankings on this site. I'm always looking for new turn-ons. Peace out.