Black Sabbath announced on Wednesday the reissue of two Ronnie James Dio-fronted metal masterpieces.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers will release deluxe editions on March 5 of 1980's "Heaven and Hell" and 1981s "Mob Rules," which featured Dio's soaring vocals on some have said were the best albums in the Black Sabbath catalogue.
After the firing of frontman Ozzy Osbourne in 1979, the iconic metal band was on the hunt for a a new lead singer. Guitarist Tony Iommi turned to former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio.
“We started putting together ideas for a new album in Los Angeles, with Ozzy,” Iommi told Metal Hammer in 2007. “At the time, we didn’t have an album title, just basic ideas. But it rapidly became obvious that Ozzy wasn’t up to the task. He was struggling with all sorts of addiction problems – alcohol, drugs and so on – and it was all getting on top of him. Not that the rest of us were living like saints, but he was a lot worse. Ronnie and I discussed some ideas, and it really went from there. Geezer [Butler, bass], Bill [Ward, drums] and I decided we had to get a new singer in for Sabbath. I’d been talking to Ronnie, and it made sense to go with him.”
The songwriting chemistry between Dio and Iommi was almost immediate with "Children Of The Sea" was the first song that two wrote for the album. But the risk that the Black Sabbath fan base would accept a new lead singer was very real to everyone except Iommi.
“It was all so exciting and challenging. We were doing things that, quite frankly, would have been beyond us with Ozzy," said Iommi. "He wasn’t that sort of singer. But with Ronnie, there were so many more options. It really did feel like we were starting all over again. And we all knew when the album was finished that it was something special. It felt right for the time, and was Black Sabbath as people had never heard us before.”
All those initial songs scribed during those songwriting sessions made it on the album "Heaven and Hell," which many have said is Black Sabbath's finest album since the early 1970s.
To follow-up "Heaven And Hell," the group returned to the studio in 1981 to begin recording "Mob Rules," with drummer Vinny Appice joining the band for the first time. Released in October 1981 and certified gold, the album was another Sabbath classic, including standouts like “The Sign Of The Southern Cross,” “Turn Up The Night” and the title track.
The reissue of the two metal masterpieces features newly remastered audio along with rare and unreleased tracks, including live versions of "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules."
"Heaven and Hell" Deluxe Edition adds several bonus tracks that have never been released in North America, including versions of “Children Of The Sea” and “Die Young” recorded live in 1980 in Hartford, CT. The set concludes with live rarities like “E5150” and “Neon Knights” that originally appeared in 2007 on the Rhino Handmade’s limited edition collection, Black Sabbath: Live At Hammersmith Odeon.
"Mob Rules" Deluxe Edition boasts an expansive selection of rare and unreleased recordings. Along with additional tracks from Live At Hammersmith Odeon, the collection also includes a newly mixed version of “The Mob Rules.” The cherry on top is an entire concert recorded in 1982 in Portland, Ore. Highlights include stellar performances of “Neon Knights” “Heaven And Hell” and “Voodoo.”
Dio left the band in 1982 to go on to a hugely successful solo career, while Black Sabbath would continue with Ian Gillan as new lead singer.
Dio would rejoin the band in 1992 for the album "Dehumanizer" and then he led to a highly anticipated world tour in 2007 where the group was billed as Heaven And Hell. Their final album of new material, 2009’s The Devil You Know, again demonstrated the musical bond between the band members was unparalleled.
Both deluxe editions will be released digitally and on CD, while both vinyl editions will include a selection of bonus material from the CDs. Live versions of “Heaven And Hell” And “The Mob Rules” are available Thursday as digital singles.