30 Years An Idol

Those of you who follow me on social media have noticed that I’ve started marking albums’ birthdays a lot.  In some ways, it is because I like bringing light to albums that never rGot the attention they should have.  Mostly I just like marking the passage of time.  Plus I like hearing from people who like the same albums.  Today I’m writing about a whopper of the “bringing light” concept.  That’s Black Sabbath’s 13th studio album…

1987’s “The Eternal Idol”.  

As I write this on Nov 23, 2017, it’s been thirty years to the day since this album was originally released.  It had quite a problematic birth.  The final product credits two producers, two drummers, two bassists, and there were two vocalists.  This was the period where Sun City happened.  So yeah, 1987 was a difficult time in the band’s history.  Let’s shed some light on all this.  Cuz that’s what I like doing.  Looking at parts of the band’s history that most don’t know a ton about.

Story Setup

When the Seventh Star tour got started, it was by all accounts a mess. Glenn Hughes was fired after just five dates for reasons that are an article on their own.. In at the last second came (at that time) New Jersey bar band singer Ray Gillen to take over the rest of the Seventh Star tour. When the Seventh Star tour ended in early June of 1986, Tony Iommi was at a crossroads. His most recent output, meant to be a solo album was forced out the door as “Black Sabbath”, had a tour that changed singers, and by all accounts wasn’t that terribly great in terms of ticket sales and attention. So what do you do next? You do what any good musician does. You carry on. The band that existed at the end of the tour was:

Tony Iommi – Guitar
Ray Gillen – Vocals
Dave Spitz – Bass
Eric Singer – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

At some point here, a decision had to be made as to what to call this project. Given the last album was originally *NOT* going to be called straight up Black Sabbath, I wondered about that  for this album.  Was it to be the same?  While I’ve never seen much in the way of the decision making process detailed, this did come out the door as “Black Sabbath”. Bob Daisley shed some light on that via this remark via email:

It was always going to be called Black Sabbath and the title “The Eternal Idol” was Patrick Meehan’s idea (the manager). It was established and agreed before the album was completed.

So it’s firmly Black Sabbath then. Onward we go. Since I don’t want to re-invent the wheel here, I’ll copy the personnel changes text over from my larger timeline page:

Before I get started on the mass confusion that is the recording of the Eternal Idol album, I’d like to thank Bob Daisley & Eric Singer for their help in this section. As you read it, you’ll definitely see why I needed help putting this together, as it’s terribly confusing, even having spoken to these guys who were there for parts of it. This section wouldn’t be what it it was without their assistance, so thanks guys. Several of the dates were confirmed to me on the telephone by either Singer or Daisley (mostly Daisley), so I’m pretty confident of the order of things here.

My Timeline of Events

In July/August of 1986, the band is doing demos for a new album – which would eventually become The Eternal Idol. From what I can gather, the producer of the album had some problems with Dave Spitz where he would either not turn up, or would always be on the phone with his girlfriend, basically it wasn’t working out, so he was asked to “rest” (or took the time off himself – I really cannot get a solid answer on this). Either way, from what I can gather, he wasn’t officially fired as such (which I believe is part of the reason he still retains a credit on the final Eternal Idol album even though he doesn’t play on it). A short while after that (September 21st), Bob Daisley was asked by the album’s producer, Jeff Glixman if he’d be interested in working on the project, and he accepted. Work began in earnest on the recording of the album; all the basic tracks were laid down by this band during the month of September. Bob was actually only around for two weeks or so in the recording studio doing his bass tracks. He told me that he left for Air Studios in Monserrat (where the recording was done) on September 30th, and took off to go back home on October 11th. His total time with the band was about two months, as they worked on lyrics with Ray and whatnot after the recording of the songs, but he wasn’t in the band all that long, really according to him. Bob tells me that he was asked to join Black Sabbath formally during this period (as well as afterwards) after laying down the tracks for the album, but was committed to the Gary Moore band, and couldn’t join Sabbath. There’s two known versions of the album floating around in collector’s circles with this lineup. One was more advanced than the other (the earlier one doesn’t have all guitar solos on it). After speaking to Bob Daisley about the album, and having him give it a listen, he confirms that the version of Eternal Idol that is floating around with Ray Gillen on vocals is from this version of the band.

(Nov 86-Jan 87) After Bob left for good around November, there was no formal bassist in the band (even though Dave Spitz was formally not out either). In fact, most of the next several months would have no bassist, as Bob had laid down the tracks already, and then left. From what I can gather, this period was most likely studio time as the band that existed at this point continued to work on the album.

(Jan-Mar 87) Eric has told me that he was no longer part of the band as of January 1987. He said that the Sabbath situation was just kind of falling apart, so he left. He took the time and auditioned for Gary Moore’s band and got that gig, playing with Gary Moore for awhile (later on, he formed Badlands with Ray Gillen (soon to be late of Black Sabbath) after having met Jake E. Lee, now ex of Ozzy’s band). In January, Sabbath goes to a different set of studios and does further work on the album, but without a formal drummer or bassist. As Eric had laid down his tracks already, the band really didn’t need a drummer as such, and my research says that during this time Sabbath didn’t actually have a drummer, either.

(Mar-Jul 87) Around March of 1987, Ray Gillen leaves the band (according to an interview), because he felt Sabbath wasn’t going anywhere, as well as his feeling that the band didn’t really have any future. It was a foolish opinion, if you ask me – but given the band had no formal bassist or drummer would explain that feeling, I guess. Of course, with an album not completed, and the lead vocalist gone, the vocals had to be redone, hence the appearance of Tony Martin. Actually, Tony Martin was considered for the position in 1986, but he was already in a band at the time (The Misha Calvin Band). As production stretched on into mid 1987, Sabbath was warming up to play some gigs in July, most of which were the Sun City gigs below. As such, they needed someone to play drums, so Tony’s friend Bev Bevan (who previously was in Sabbath during 83/84 on the Born Again tour) was brought in to play drums for Sabbath again, although when precisely he joined up again, I don’t know.

(July 87) In addition to Bev Bevan stepping in to play drums, the band needed a bassist if they were to play live again, so Dave Spitz returned to the stage to handle those duties. On July 20th, 1987, Sabbath played a music festival in Greece, which as it turns out has been their only appearance in Greece in their entire history (until the “Ozzfest 2005” tour).

(Jul-Aug 87) Almost immediately after the festival in Greece, Sabbath played Sun City in South Africa. This was before Apartheid fell there, so Sabbath took a lot of crap about it in the press. Tony Iommi himself said this in a January 1988 interview about playing Sun City.. “Hopefully, it hasn’t done us any lasting damage. But in our defense I’ve got to say that this was discussed with Patrick Meehan’s lawyers who convinced us that Sun City wasn’t actually in South Africa…and we were foolish to believe them!” Bev Bevan objected to playing Sun City for political reasons, so another member change was needed. Terry Chimes (formerly of the Clash) stepped in to play drums here, and shortly afterwards.

After the Sun City gigs, final production on the Eternal Idol album was completed, and the album was (finally) released in November of 1987. Dave Spitz left for good during this period. When Dave actually departed is a bit of a mystery, but a good guess is that he was gone before the end of October (possibly earlier, as the Eternal Idol Tour rehearsals likely started sometime in October).

Album Credits

How’s that for convoluted? In all this time you have two vocalists, two bassists, two drummers, two recording studios, two producers, but one hell of an album. Even the credits are bizarre on the released album. Take a look at the credits page from the 1996 Castle Remaster release:

So who did what on the final released product?

Guitar: Obviously, Tony Iommi played all the guitars. That’s easy.

Keyboards: That too was also all handled by Geoff Nicholls, who according to stuff I’ve read/heard over the years had more to do with the actual music and lyrics than he was properly credited for.

Vocals: The final released product was handled by Tony Martin. He re-recorded all of Ray Gillen’s bits after Gillen left. However, there’s one short piece of Ray Gillen on the final released product; a story that has been told several times before. In the track “Nightmare”, there’s some laughing that is the Ray Gillen original. Apparently Tony Martin said it worked so well, the band left it well enough alone. Here’s a 20 second sample of the Gillen laughing.

Tony Martin sent me this quick email for this article regarding his work and introduction to the album:

It was a very involved, new, deep, position i found myself in and was completely unprepared for it!!! I DID do the job though and i’m pleased with what it became. It was a little weird following EXACT lines and lyrics already laid in place because my voice was forced to work in some strange keys, but there wasn’t time to change any of it anyway, i only had a week to record the whole thing.!!!

Bass: The credits list both Dave Spitz & Bob Daisley as bassists on the album. Everything I’ve read however says that Spitz didn’t actually play anything on the released product, it’s all Bob Daisley. Bob confirmed this in his email to me for this article. That’s interesting, as Bob stated he was only there for a few weeks to record his tracks and write songs, and those bass tracks were laid down almost a full year before the album was released. Why was Dave Spitz credited when he didn’t play? Who knows. Perhaps some legal requirement, or they felt they owed him a favor and put his name there.. No idea.

UPDATE Jan 2009: This month, I got an email from Bob Daisley explaining why Dave Spitz was credited on the Eternal Idol album, when he hadn’t actually played anything. Bob said, “By the way, the question as to why Dave Spitz is credited on the album in the bass credits is answered by the fact that I wouldn’t join the band and Spitz stayed, so to give some sort of continuity to the album and live performances, his name appears on the record. It’s the same reason that Michael Innez had his name on the Ozzy album “No More Tears”. I played on it but wasn’t in the band and not going on the road to promote it. Michael was already in the band when I got the call from Ozzy to play on that album and I played on the whole thing, like with “Eternal Idol” and because Michael was still in the band and going on the road, he got a credit as well. So there it is…”

Drums: There are two credited drummers on the album, Bev Bevan & Eric Singer. While Bev does have a credit on the final Eternal Idol album as “percussion”, what (if anything) he played on the final album isn’t known. Eric Singer was asked at a KISS convention about the Eternal Idol album, and he said that Bev doesn’t actually play anything on the album, and that he’s the only drummer. I had also read something around the time of the release of this album that Bev was brought in only to “clean up” a few things on the final recording after Eric had already left, although that contradicts what Eric said about Bev not being on the album. I’ve since found out from Geoff Nicholls that Bev’s contribution to the album were some cymbal rolls in the song Scarlet Pimpernel. For that he got a credit of “percussion”. If you listen to Pimpernel, and turn the volume up, you can hear them. It’s admittedly a very light sound, but it is on there.

Jeff Glixman during the recording of Eternal Idol.  The bass in the background of the photo is Bob’s – this was taken during one of the days Bob was laying down tracks.
Photo (c)Bob Daisley

Out of all that came what I believe is one of the more cohesive Sabbath albums that has ever come down the pike. The Ozzy era is what it was, and the Dio era is extremely solid. Beyond that, most people tend to dismiss Sabbath’s recorded output, which is a shame. Too many people get hung up on “It’s not Ozzy” or “Dio rules” that they are blinded to good music. Say what you will about the changing lineups of Sabbath in the 80’s, you cannot deny the guitar work of Tony Iommi. Let’s check out the tracks:

The Tracks

This is the song that most people know about if they know anything from The Eternal Idol. It was the first (the only?) single from the album, it has a nice catchy hook, and got played on all the tours with Tony Martin. So it should be the most known of the tracks. It was the only one from the album that got a video produced for it, which I’m showing below.

The main riff for this song had been around for some time. It was originally written for the demo sessions back in 1984 after Ian Gillan had left the band following the Born Again tour. The band was trying to figure out what to do, and was trying other singers. One of the guys they tried was Dave Donato, and out of those demo sessions came several tracks, one was called “No Way Out”. Check it out, you should recognize the tune. :)

And, as long as we’re talking about old versions of The Shining, check out this audio. It’s a version of the track with Ray Gillen on vocals.

Speaking of the video for The Shining, here’s an amusing piece of trivia. Given the upheaval in personnel in 1987, when it came time to shoot a video for “The Shining”, the band had no actual bassist there on the day. In a bit of a panic, the band ended up pulling a complete unknown off the street to stand in for the video shoot. Tony Martin elaborates a bit on this:

The bassist on the video was some guy that we pulled in off the street. He was actually a guitarist, and he just stood in for the video. When the shoot was finished he asked if he could audition for the bass player position, but when we tried him out he just didn’t cut it. So back out on the street he went. He kept saying that he was a reincarnate red Indian, and that his spirit guide was some famous chief!!!! But that’s his claim to fame, I bet NOBODY believes him, can you imagine just getting shoved in off the street to audition for Sabbath. then getting kicked back out the door!!!

As I said, this is the most known track, it’s probably the most accessible track. It’s also the one I’m going to write the most about, because there’s more than my own feelings on the track available. :) I’ve even seen the riff used by some folks who throw their own guitar riffing up on Youtube. It’s one of my favorite tracks, but as much as I like this song, it’s not my favorite on the album.

One last video.  This is something that popped up online a few years back, and is amazing video.  It’s someone who was shooting home video while they were actually making the video for Eternal Idol.  It’s seven minutes long, and gives you a look at how they put the video together.  Very cool stuff.


BobFacts™: According to Bob Daisley, the song is a parody of the movie of the same name.

Ancient Warrior might be one of most overlooked tracks in the band’s entire history. I’ve always felt this has a really great hard riff. It’s not fast like The Shining or Neon Knights or something like that. Ancient Warrior isn’t doom and gloom slow like St Vitus Dance or Shadow of the Wind. Anicent Warrior fits right in the middle for me in terms of fast and slow Sabbath songs.

I absolutely love the main riff for this one. I love the entire musical construction here. Love the bridges, love this track. It’s probably tied for my favorite track of this album (with the title track). Check out a couple of sample riffs from the track:

I’ve always felt the song’s lyrics were about Jesus Christ. Check this out:

There’s no end – there’s no beginning
To the old man’s story
Does he still remember me
From lives gone by
Oh I see his spirit rising
Upon the back of time
I’ve got nowhere to hide
Will he keep a place for me
He is the king of all kings
The keeper of light
He holds eternity’s wings

If you look at that with the knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ, it certainly reads that way to me. Perhaps it’s my personal beliefs there, but it does seem to fit the facts. I did pose this theory to Bob Daisley, and he responded with: “No, not anyone in particular, just a nameless, timeless wise person really. No denomination or specific religion.”. So much for my theory, but I still think it fits. :)

BobFacts™: According to Bob Daisley, the song’s working title was “George the Axe Murderer”, after a chef in the studio they recorded in.

This song is not one of the better ones for me. Which is a weird thing to say, as whenever I say that I always feel people will interpret it to be “He thinks it sucks”. I don’t. It’s a decent track, but it’s not one of the stellar ones. After the first two tracks being killer, IMO, this one was a bit of a comedown. The riff is OK, but nothing special to me. It does repeat a lot, which is I suppose not a unique thing to this song. A lot of songs have a riff that repeats over and over again, but this one seems to do it moreso than others.

BobFacts™: According to Bob Daisley, this message of this song is “leave me out of your world of lies and deceit”.

I like Glory Ride a lot better than Hard Life. It has a “touch” of the mid 80’s influence in it. I’m speaking of the “keyboard sound” that plays behind Tony Martin’s vocals in the non chorus part of the song. I know at this point in the band’s history Geoff Nicholls is more in the forefront, so I’d expect him to be more noticable than usual. The “keyboard sound” I speak of kind of reminds me of the 80’s a little.

I detest that “80’s keyboard sound” in so much music of that era, it’s the only part of the song that makes me not get excited. But there’s so many parts of this song I do like, I can overlook that. The song has varied structure, it’s not just the same riff repeated over and over again.

There’s a sound that to me feels like “clapping” of sorts behind the chorus. Makes me wonder if that was meant to be some sort of audience participation thing. There’s actually a few places in this song that seemed like audience participation bits. This song was only ever performed on the rather short Eternal Idol tour, and I have heard some live bootlegs from then, but it didn’t seem to capitalize on this issue (to me anyway).

BobFacts™: According to Bob Daisley, this song is about pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain in WWII.

Nice riff. This is another that kind of falls in between my feelings for Hard Life to Love and Glory Ride. It’s a good song – I really like the main riff of this one, but the song never really gels for me. Can’t put my finger on this one, despite it falling under “decent track”.

BobFacts™: According to Bob Daisley, this song’s working title was “Mushroom Tea”.

This song has a 30 second keyboard intro by Geoff Nicholls. Thematically it feels like the keyboard intros to a couple of songs from the Born Again album (specifically Stonehenge & The Dark) or Sphinx (The Guardian) from Seventh Star. I always liked those kind of intros to Sabbath song. So right away this works for me.

This has a slightly different main riff. The riff has what I can only describe as a “paused” riff. There’s no actual stopping of playing, but for some reason if you listen to it, there sounds (to me) to be a fractional pause in the main riff. It adds something different to me. I’ve always loved songs that changed timing in the middle of the track. I’m not the most technical listener of music (can’t tell you exact time mind you), but I do tend to notice stuff like that. This song is actually one I wouldn’t like with other things I’ve said, as it’s a fairly straightforward song, but I like this “paused riff” an awful lot.

This also does have the bit I mention above with Ray Gillen’s original laughing in it (at around 2:48). After the bit with the laughing, there’s a completely different main riff. It’s a kind of interesting song with a different front and back bit. I like this a lot for the oddball riff and the inclusion of Ray Gillen on the final product.

BobFacts™: According to Bob Daisley, the song is about not being sucked in by negativity.

A two minute instrumental. This track was never on any of the Ray Gillen bootleg versions of Eternal Idol I’ve seen. It’s one of those tracks that you can play for your grandparents, and don’t have to worry about it being “Black Sabbath”. :) Not much to say about this one except “I don’t hear Bev Bevan in here much except maybe some rolling cymbals I hear, perhaps?”

There are no Bob Facts for this one, as Bob is not on it, was solely created after Bob’s time with the band.

Nice fast track. It’s not like “old Metallica fast” fast, but it’s got a nice faster pace than your standard Sabbath track. I like this track a lot, but for some reason I can’t find much to say about it.

BobFacts™: According to Bob Daisley, this about someone whose past has caught up with them as they stand before “the hangman”.

Here it is. The best song on the album. (Well OK, I like Ancient Warrior a lot too, they’re both extraordinarily good). This feels so much like old school 70’s Black Sabbath, it’s not funny. I wonder if that was the intent when written, but man – this just “feels” like Black Sabbath should. Doomy, gloomy, and just dripping with heavy riffing.

You and I, victims of their word
As the masters of power try to poison our world
Greed, money taken over their souls
Just mechanical brains
Politicians don’t know, they just don’t know

I’ve always loved those lyrics. It’s how the song closes.  They so easily can still be applied to today’s political situations.  Just as the lyrics for War Pigs can.  Great GREAT stuff.

If you listen to just one track from this album, this is it. Absolutely stellar track, one of the best of the Martin era by far (even if it was written for Ray Gillen).

BobFacts™: According to Bob Daisley, the working title of this song was “Plastic Warrior”, a reference to local hooch.  Bob also said this is the only song on the album that was recorded with the entire band in the studio at the same time.

This is a strange track. It originally appeared as a “B side” to the 12″ single release of The Shining, and nowhere else. Outside of the rarity of its existence, it’s very un Sabbath like. It’s a very fast bluesy song. It sounds like nothing else on the album. It’s not like it’s a bad song, but doesn’t terribly sound much like “Black Sabbath” to me. If you ever heard that cover that Black Sabbath did of Blue Suede Shoes from 1970, Tony Iommi’s guitar sound here sounds like that “sound” to me, even if the songs aren’t the same.

When Black Sabbath eventually gets around to putting out a “Black Box” for the material from the Tony Martin era, this had better be on there. It’s one of the lost tracks that virtually nobody has heard before due to it’s being a B side on probably the worst selling album in the band’s history.

It later appeared on the 2010 Deluxe Edition of the album.

Take a listen to this sample of the beginning of the track. If you’ve never heard it before, then you should see what I mean about it not sounding like any other Sabbath track.

Black Moon was also on the 12 inch single for The Shining. However, this track was later used on 1989’s “Headless Cross” album. This sounds at its base the same as the version from 1989, except it’s a little slower.  The lyrics all appear to be the same, the only difference is the fact that the original version is Martin / Iommi / Daisley / Singer, and the version from Headless Cross is Martin / Iommi / Cottle / Powell.  So they’ll sound a little different just because of the different people on it.  But it is the same song.   I think this is the only time in Black Sabbath’s history this happened – where the band re-recorded itself.

The 1987 version later appeared on the 2010 Deluxe Edition of the album.

If you want to hear the difference, listen to this short clip.  It has the first few seconds of the version from The Eternal Idol, and the same section from the Headless Cross album.

Cover Art

The album’s cover art is something of an interesting story. The cover art imagery is based off of an 1889 sculpture by French painter Auguste Rodin. I’m not going to get into Rodin’s history, you can read his Wikipedia page for background information. It is quite the odd choice, though. One wouldn’t think a metal album from the 80’s would have a French sculptor and artist from 100 years previous as the inspiration for their cover art. But stranger things have happened. The original sculpture is shown in a picture here.

For quite awhile I wondered what the deal with the models was, not knowing the original inspiration. Legend has it that the original sculpture was going to be used as the actual cover art, but some rights related issue prevented that. So the models you see on the final cover were done up and positioned to mimic the original sculpture. How true that story is, I don’t really know, but it’s what I’ve been hearing about the cover art for years.

The Tour

OK. After quite a gestation period, the album was released in November 23, 1987 (and on December 8, 1987 in the US).

There actually were a couple of live dates (unconnected to the tour “proper”) before the album was released. One was in Athens Greece on July 21st. This date was the first time to this point that Sabbath had ever played there. The rhythm section was still a bit of a mess, and as such Dave Spitz was brought over to play the gig. Bev Bevan handled drums, which was his only live date with the band other than on the Born Again tour in 83/84. I have a (short) review of the Athens gig on my site here as given to me by sab fan Konstantine Sasma. After the Greece one off, there were the dates in South Africa at Sun City. Much has been made about Sabbath playing there before Apartheid fell, but I won’t get into that now. Apparently Bev Bevan did not want to go there for political reasons, so they had to get Terry Chimes (ex Clash) to play these dates. When the Sun City gigs were done, that was the end for Dave Spitz. As far as I know he wasn’t asked to play the tour proper.

So a proper touring band is needed for the formal Eternal Idol tour whose first “proper” date was November 22, 1987. As Dave Spitz was now gone for good, they needed a bassist. This ended up being Jo Burt. Jo had been playing with Jason Bonham (according to Geoff Nicholls). Where and exactly HOW they found him is not known to me, but there he is. :)

So we now have this band (L-R):

Terry Chimes – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards
Tony Martin – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Jo Burt – Bass

We’re a long way from the early 70’s and Ozzy/Tony/Geezer/Bill. But as Geoff was fond of saying “the show must go on”, and this band hit the road for what turned out to be a very short tour. My tour notes show only 15 actual gigs played. Several of them were in Germany & Italy. Then there was to be the Hammersmith Odeon gig in London to end the year. That was scheduled to be played on December 28th, 1987. It didn’t happen; it was canceled. Tony Iommi had this to say about it in a January 1988 interview in Kerrang magazine..

“Yes, our equipment had to be impounded and i was suffering from a bout of what was thought to be tennis elbow, but on top of this I came down with Singapore ‘Flu while in Europe and got really ill. l couldn’t shake it off and felt horrible. Even now, the after effects haven’t completely worn off. it’s awful. “The last thing I wanted to do was to cancel the Hammersmith show – I was really looking forward to it. But we had no choice and all I can do is to apologize to the fans. But we do intend to re-schedule this date as soon as possible, plus hopefully slotting in a couple of other British gigs.”

This was of course never rescheduled. There were also supposed to be United States gigs too, but that also never happened. The management situation during this time was apparently a complete fiasco, with Tony saying the following about it (in the same magazine article)…

“The situation with Patrick was unworkable. We couid never find him when bills had to be paid and apart from one girl in the office, there was no-one we could talk to about anything. It was a nightmare and eventually I was left with no option but to walk away and try to pick up the pieces. All I wanna do is be left alone to get on with playing music. I just wish all these problems would go away.”

So you have a band with personal turmoil over the appearance at Sun City, a released (fired?) manager, impounded gear, unpaid bills, a rather unknown lineup, and an album that wasn’t selling well. 1987 couldn’t have ended worse for Black Sabbath I think. Fortunately the name wasn’t completely destroyed, and was eventually built back up, but one could very easily make the point that 1987 was the lowest point in the band’s history.

Still, even with all of that, if you were lucky enough to see one of the few live gigs on this tour, you saw something that most of us haven’t seen. And Black Sabbath is still Black Sabbath. I have to admit to wishing I could have seen ’em on this tour.

To sum up the tour part of this article, here are a few pictures from some gigs in 1987, and one of the only known video clips from the tour (which isn’t great quality, but beggars can’t be choosers).

Speaking of Jo Burt, he still tours to this day as the “Jo Burt Experience”.  A couple of years ago, he did a country version of the song Paranoid.  It’s quite different – check it out.

Deluxe Edition

On November 1, 2010 a double disc “Deluxe Edition” of the Eternal Idol album came out.  Since it was based on the original Vertigo (later Castle, later Universal) record contract, it was only released in Europe, not in the US domestically.  Anyway, it had a remastered version of the album we knew, plus the two B side tracks (Black Moon & Some Kind of Woman) on there, so that was sweet.

But the real gold on the Deluxe Edition release was Disc 2.  Tony Iommi finally granted permission to release the Ray Gillen version of the album.  It was a shocker when it was announced, and even with that knowldge, it was more surprising when it finally came out!  There’s been a few bootleg versions of the Gillen album out there over the years on various “releases”.  I’m aware of all them, but as I’ve mentioned a few times on my site, I was aware of an additional one that was sent to me by someone I’d rather not name which was CLEARLY higher quality than any known bootleg.  I was given it with the instructions that it never be given out.  Something I honored.   I was asked after the Deluxe Edition came out if the version I had was like the final product on Disc 2.  It pretty much is, so my source was pretty well connected, I always called mine “The Monitor Mix”, given how high quality it was.   I know Andy Pearce worked a little on the Ray Gillen version, so it would have to sound better than any bootleg out there.

THAT is the version to get.  You get the album we knew (with B side tracks), plus the pre-release version.  Couldn’t be happier that it’s out.  However, it wasn’t released domestically in the US, so you need to buy it from the UK yourself.  Which actually works out cheaper than the import price that Amazon US sells it for.  Click on the cover art below to be taken to the order page for Amazon UK.   You won’t be disappointed.

One small ego trip (OK, maybe a huge one) about this release.  I got a special thanks for its release.  This was due to my input on what should be on the release, some proofreading, and things of that nature.  Check out this page from the booklet.  :)

Someone else’s perspective

I’ve spoken for quite a long time on Eternal Idol. Fortunately I’m not the only person who likes the album. I’d like to add a short piece by fan Mark Cloer (who also contributed to my piece on Seventh Star). Here’s someone else’s thoughts on this album…

Twenty years is a long time but it certainly doesn’t seem like 2 decades ago that my favorite Sabbath album hit the shelves. I was fresh out of high school and still a die-hard Black Sabbath fan. I remember there had been a lot of confusion in the air around the state of the band. We didn’t have the internet but I had limited knowledge from Hit Parader and some of the other music rags. Dio had gone, replaced by Ian Gillan who was replaced by Glenn Hughes who was repalced by Ray Gillen….. Of course Keel, Donato & Fenholt figured in there too but most of that was pretty much kept under wraps until many years later. Anyway, it was obvious that Sabbath was in turmoil! I was totally into the “Seventh Star” album and had loved Glenn’s work on it. Somewhere along the line I learned of the Hughes/Gillen switch and had expected to see this Gillen chap’s name in the credits on the the next Sabbath slab. I had a friend at a record store who kept me up on as much news as he could but I had no prior knowledge of this Tony Martin fellow in the credits of this new album with the strange album cover. I had never heard of the Eternal Idol sculpture so the album cover took me by surprise.

Anyway, I vividly remember popping the cassette into the tape deck for the first time. I was bummed that Hughes hadn’t lasted but I kept an open mind. Less than a minute into “The Shining”, I was hooked and it just got better from there. I didn’t know who this Tony Martin was but this “cat” could sing! What a set of pipes! Who the hell was he and where the hell had he been all my life?? His voice blew me away. It was crystal clear, clean and with power to spare. A new vocal hero was born! Most albums tend to have at least a couple tracks that seem like filler; Not this one (with the possible exception of “Scarlet Pimpernel”)! It had all the elements of a great Sabbath album. Some of the songs (like the title track) harkened back to some of the classic Sabbath vibes while others sounded modern and would have fit well onto one of the Dio albums or possibly “Seventh Star”. My favorite track was and still is “Glory Ride”. This Martin guy was really a breath of fresh air because he could REALLY sing, unlike a lot of the singers that were up and coming in the metal scene of the late ’80s. I remember reading some reviews of the album that passed Martin off as a Dio clone. I never got that. I don’t think he sounded anything like Ronnie, then or now. Sure, I guess he sounded more like Dio that he did Gillan or Ozzy but nobody with a set of ears would confuse Dio & Martin. He was an amazing “new” voice that deserved his own legacy and I was glad to have him in the band.

Of course the musicianship on “Eternal Idol” was stellar as one would expect on anything Iommi would stamp his name on. Tony’s guitar work was top shelf as usual and the bass and drums were really clicking, regardless of who actually played what. Geoff added his deft touch in all the right spots as usual. This was just a smoking album that doesn’t seem to sound the least bit dated even today. One often tends to call the newest release by a band their “favorite”, until the newness wears off but 20 years later I still maintain that “Eternal Idol” is my favorite Black Sabbath album as a whole piece of work. Many years later I got hold of the Gillen demos. I loved Ray and would have loved him to have continued with Sabbath for awhile longer because he was a huge talent but I much prefer the Martin version of “Eternal Idol” although it’s not a fair comparison because the Gillen demos are very rough and the finished Martin project is polished up as shiny as a new penny.

It’s really a shame that this album never got the respect it should have. All the rubbish involved with the revolving doors of band members, producers and management overshadows a truly magnificent collection of music. It was a new beginning for the next great era of Sabbath that lasted longer than expected but then dissolved way too soon for me and at least and handful of other fans who maintain that Tony Martin was the finest singer that Black Sabbath ever had. Don’t get me wrong, I love ALL eras of the band and picking a favorite is very hard but Tony Martin had me in the first minute of ever hearing his voice and 20 years later he is my favorite vocalist of all time. He and Iommi were a match made in heaven and I hope that some day they’ll see fit to work together again in some capacity. I’m as thrilled with the “Heaven & Hell” reunion as everybody else is and hope and pray the next tour brings them close enough to me to go see them. I’m anxiously awaiting the rumored new album in ’08, I’m sure it will be a new masterpiece. I can’t help but hope somewhere down the road there is a similar reunion of Iommi, Martin, Murray, Nicholls & Rondinelli (R.I.P. Cozy). I’m not holding my breath but the seeds planted with the release of “Eternal Idol” T-W-E-N-T-Y years ago bore some fabulous fruit that deserves to be revisited just like the Dio material.

Band Members Look Back

In my time running this website, I’ve made a few friends in the band, and I decided to hit a few of them up to see if they’d be interested in contributing their memories on making the album all this time ago, and what they thought of it looking backwards over the years. I got responses back from Eric Singer, Geoff Nicholls, Bob Daisley, and even album producer Chris Tsangerides. Tony Martin also contributed with a few quotes I used further up in the article. I’m grateful to all of them for their contributions. Most of these were when I hit them up 10 years ago for the 20th anniversary.  We lost Geoff, so I couldn’t get an update from him. But most of these guys responded said said there wasn’t much new to add for the 30th, so we’ll go with their comments for the 20th…  :)

Eric Singer’s Remarks:

Wow already over 20 years ago we set out to record that Sabbath record…

It started with demos in Birmingham, England. Actually it was Henley on Arden area in the outskirts of town. That was kinda of ironic to all of us since Tony had recently parted ways with longtime Sabs manager Don Arden at that time.

Anyways, we did a lot of demos at some barn studio in the loft later in the days since there were shops open for business down below during the afternoons. I remember having towels or T-shirts on my drums to dampen the sound ! A lot of ideas were recorded or tried out and it was a very productive time…

We then acquired a new manager Patrick Meehan and he arranged for us to go to Montseratt in the West Indies to record at Air Studios which was owned by George Martin of BEATLES fame. Sting, The Police, Duran Duran & Eric Clapton had all recorded there so we were really keen on going there. It was a beautiful place with a great studio and vibe. We ended up being there for 6 weeks ! It was a really fun time and even though we had obstacles and a few detours along the way, we did get some decent sounds and tracks done. Bob Daisley was flown in the play Bass on that record and I have maintained a great friendship with him to this day. Soon after basic tracks they all took a break to return home and then Tony resumed recording in London.

I soon after was asked to join Gary Moore for a tour in early 1987 and decided it was time for me to move in another direction…. I am thankful for the experience I got playing with Tony Iommi. He really is one of the most unique and influential guitarist of all time. Hopefully life will go full circle and we can work together again someday….

Eric Singer recording the song “Eternal Idol”. Photo (c) Bob Daisley.

Bob Daisley’s Remarks:

I was working with Gary Moore and living in England at the time, around October 1986 when I got a call from Jeff Glixman, the producer of “The Eternal Idol” asking me if I’d like to play on the new Sabbath album as Sab’s bass-player, Dave Spitz, was unavailable. A couple of days later I found myself in Montserrat, West Indies, at George Martin’s Air Studios there. The line-up was Tony Iommi, a truly great riff merchant and player, Eric Singer on drums, Ray Gillen, vocals, and Geoff Nicholls on keys. I was asked to join the band after the recording but I was happy with the Gary Moore situation and declined the offer. I did have a great time working with that line-up though and got on very well with them all. I wrote quite a lot of the lyrics for that album but I think some were changed when the final vocals by Tony Martin were added. I know it states in the credits that Dave Spitz was also a bassist on the record but he didn’t play a note on it, it’s all me. The song-writing credits are Tony Iommi only, which again isn’t accurate but reflects the situation at the time. I still have a lot of out-takes of Ray Gillen’s performances and for my money, he was the better vocalist and some of those rough mixes I have sound better than the final mix, to me anyway. Tony Martin did a great job of the final vocal takes but they were Ray’s phrasing and melodies in the first place so it was more natural to him.

The title track in my opinion is one of the heaviest, most interesting “dark” songs I’ve ever heard and remains one of my favourite heavy songs I’ve had the pleasure to be involved in. I think “The Eternal Idol” is one of the most underrated Sabbath albums and certainly deserves a lot more attention and recognition.

Bob Daisley.

Eric also sent along this picture of he and Bob Daisley during the recording of the album.
The picture was taken at Montserrat near Air Studios.  Photo (c) Bob Daisley

Geoff Nicholls’ Remarks:

Hi Joe
Well my recollection of the Eternal Idol is one of very many different moods and changes but at the end of the day when you look back at the people involved, The musicians.
All the shit you go through seems to fade and the album I thought was a good one and the songs still stand up today. My favorites are “The Shining.” And “Eternal Idol.”
It started off as a wonderful experience with young new blood in the band. Eric. Ray. Dave. These guys were full of energy and bought a new image to the band as we had just finished the Seventh Star Tour and noticed a lot of younger people in the audience. We finished some writing in England and went off to Montserrat a Caribbean island a wonderful place totally cut off from the outside world and distractions.

But as always in the Sabbath history something had to go wrong.

I don’t want to get into all the reasons why but Dave left and Bob arrived. We also had new management and for some that cast a shadow. We never got to finish the album in Montserrat and returned to England and once again the Sabbath curse struck again after a short time we lost Geoff Glixman, the Engineer/Producer. And with Geoff went a lot of the sound effects that had been recorded.

With Ray being very inexperienced in the studio a new producer, Vic Coppersmith was bought in to help guide Ray through. But once again the Sabbath curse struck just as Ray had virtually finished recording all his vocals he also left without telling anyone. Once again I felt sorry for Tony Iommi he had always given new people a chance a was let down many times by people just out to use him.

And once again we had another situation. The cost of recording in Air studio’s was in London was very high. So Chris Tsangerides was bought in and we moved to Battery studio’s then the digital tapes or just the tracks needed to re- record the vocals and some finishing overdubs we put on to 24 track two inch tape and off we went once again.
Tony Martin was bought in to sing after coming down for an audition and sang the whole album in a week. He worked really hard and put a lot of effort into trying to retain the original ideas. Which is what he was asked to do mainly for the need to get the album done as quick as possible as the record company were screaming for a release at this time and who can blame them.

Then Chris transferred all the new tracks back onto the digital tape for the final mixes, which saved a lot of money and the album.

As I said a lot of mixed emotions. But then whoever said it was gonna be easy and we did find a singer who was in Sabbath the longest second only to Ozzy. And recorded some great albums after but that’s another day.  Oh and by the way we did have some great fun inbetween – boy did we! Ha ah. Keep rockin’ in the free world.


From Joe: Geoff sent in a second piece when I had asked him about Jo Burt and Scarlet Pimpernel:

Hi Joe. As usual, the Sabbath curse struck again. Just to add to my earlier memories…

When we were mixing the album, Tony Iommi wanted to do an instrumental, so we recorded it. Bev Bevan came down to the studio for a visit, and he got asked to do some percussion bits on it, which he did which is why his name is on the album credits as a thank you.

Then the touring bit.

Originally, Bev and Geezer were going to play drums and bass for a gig in Greece, but Geezer pulled out at the last minute due to manager problems. So Dave Spitz got the call to play bass after that Bev left and Terry Chimes came in as a last minute replacement. Terry was a good drummer and all his background came from rock dummers even though he played in punk bands, I think is favourite drummer was John Bonham. And he also did a lot of teaching at drum clinics.

Jo Burt was called in to do a European tour. He had been playing with Jason Boham and a tour had been booked. Although they may not have been the first choice the old saying of the show must go on always raises its head and we made the best of it and as usual had a lot of fun and a lot of unusual experiences along the way.

Boy did we. Things were never dull, but that’s another book to be written.

Best, Geoff

From Joe (Nov 2017):  We lost Geoff earlier this year, and I’m sad about that.  Geoff was always kind with his time, and given he was witness to so much of Black Sabbath’s history, we’ve lost a great one.  Underrated chap he was.  RIP Geoff.

Chris Tsangerides’ Remarks:

Hi Joe, well here go’s…

Originally I was asked to come in and do a few solos and then mix the project all in all around 3 weeks was earmarked this turned into 6 months and a whole lot more… They had a falling out with Jeff Glixman (original producer)and they did the vocals with Vic Smith.. the singer was the late Ray Gillen… By the time I arrived there was dissension in the camp which resulted in Ray and Eric Singer leaving during the record… Tony martin was drafted in and i did all the vocals again with him.. There was also nearly all the solos to do and keyboards basically I was given the raw bed tracks and we had to do everything else… hence the 6 months.. anyway I reckon It turned out well and had a blast working with Tony, during the down time he Geoff Nicholls and myself formed a joke band called “T.I.N” after our surnames and would jam all sorts of nonsense which seemed a good Idea at the time.. we had a great time as always together and it was good to meet up again last Monday at the Classic rock awards where Tony got the Metal Guru award…


Personal Remarks / Miscellaneous

I suppose what pains me most about this album is that given the complete upheaval behind the scenes with this album, they managed to produce quite the solid album from front to back. While I like some tracks better than others, the album is very good. Yet most Sabbath fans don’t know it. Whether it’s because they truly just don’t know about it, or dismiss it out of hand because it’s not “Ozzy Black Sabbath” I don’t know.

The bulk of this article was written 10 years ago in 2007 when the album was 20 years old.  That my site is old enough to have its own articles have their own anniversaries is amazing to me.  Anyway, while not much has changed over time with this album since the old article, I did get to meet Tony Iommi face to face in 2016.  I expressed my like for the album, that despite all the problems it was one of the more solid releases.   I did ask him to his face about that “guy” who played bass in the Shining video, and he couldn’t remember, either.  Ill try this, as it might be my only recourse.  If you are that guy, contact me!  I want to hear from you!  :)

Here’s something I still have 30 years later.  The original cassette tape I bought on the day it came out.  A few weeks later, I bought it on CD, as I got my first ever CD player for Christmas in 1987, and bought Sabbath’s then “new” album on CD.  But the cassette was my first purchase of this album, and I still have it.  Still works, too!   These pictures and the video were all taken on Nov 23, 2017.

NOTE: The video is temporarily lost, I’m not sure what I did with the original.  Will restore when I can find it.

This album is one that deserves way more attention than it’s ever received. I’ve loved this album since it was new.

Well, that pretty much does it for this look back at “The Eternal Idol”. Hopefully my small article will help shed some light onto an album that gets lost when folks think about Black Sabbath.  Go pick up a copy and give it a listen. I think you’ll like it. It should be obvious by now that I do. :)

If you get a minute, drop me a line, and let me know what you think of this article. Thanks.

Before I go, I need to take a moment and thank Bob Daisley here.  As I was preparing the 30th anniversary article, I had several questions for Bob regarding timing, and various things.  Bob was gracious enough to allow me to use a couple of photos and text from his autobiography.  The stuff I used from Bob’s book you can see as “BobFacts”.  That’s my term, just trying to be goofy.  If you’ve never checked out Bob’s book, you should.   I, of course, was most interested in the Eternal Idol part of the book.  In fact, there’s a lot more in Bob’s book about the Eternal Idol album.  He taalks about his time in Rainbow, Gary Moore, and of course there’s a *LOT* about his time with Ozzy Osbourne – not to mention the 50,000 other bands he’s been involved with – ha.  The book’s title is “For Facts Sake” and you can get a copy of it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Amazon CA.  Please – go buy it, it’s an excellent read.

Joe Siegler – Webmaster
Black Sabbath Online

P.S.  Black Sabbath is so much more than just the 8 studio albums released in the 1970’s.  There’s great tunes all over the place, and if you take the time and look, you might find something you like.  These parts of the band’s history will *NEVER* be forgotten about so long as I’m around.


  1. Excellent piece, Joe, then and now.

    My experience was somewhat similar to yours and Mark Cloer’s. I had found Seventh Star to be somewhat of a letdown, despite its strengths. It was too lightweight to be Sabbath (which, of course, it wasn’t originally intended to be), and the running time was very short.

    As a result, my expectations for Eternal Idol weren’t sky-high, but I was very pleased with how it turned out. My only quibble with the album is that the drums could have been a little more active in a few places, especially on “Ancient Warrior.” Otherwise, it’s one of the better metal albums of the ’80s, in my opinion.

    It’s also held up the best of all the Martin-era albums for me, even though I’m a fan of all of them. It still sounds great to my ears, and I use it as a sonic guide for what I want my own metal rhythm guitars to sound like. I don’t think Iommi ever got a better tone in the studio than this. A lot of care was obviously taken with the production, and it helped having first-class producers like Jeff Glixman and Chris Tsangerides involved.

    I agree that it deserves a much better reputation than it has.

  2. Thank you Joe.
    It was really interesting to read!
    And I never saw that Eric Singer great photo behind the drums.

    • That photo comes from Bob Daisley’s book. You should get it – there’s lots of other rare photos and info in there.

  3. Hi Joe.
    First of all – really thankful that you have the same opinion and respect for the album!
    Because over a lot of years I really has had the feeling about, this is a very underrated album, and it’s very sad!
    Well, of course all fans have their opinion about BS eras, but unfortunately I have experienced as well, that a lot of metal fans, don’t know this album or – close to – don’t know much to the 80’s / 90’s era with Tony Martin and the albums!!!!
    How ever, “The Eternal Idol” is for me a great album, but has always had a “different atmosphere “: which for me says, that I really respect it !
    Along “Seventh Star” and “Headless Cross” – this album remarks Tony Iommi’s battle to continue, even more after the other band members from the original BS just had left. In my opinion, Tony Iommi should be more credited for his works with these albums!
    I really wish, as you, that your article can spread the words about the album and how great it is. Thank you so very much for your fantastic article and it shows me, that other fans, actually are pleased with the album. My favorite tracks are deffently “Hard Life to Love”, “Born to Loose” , “Nightmare” and “The Eternal Idol”. Once and again: thank you so much for your work with the article and your opinion on a very underrated album!!!!

  4. Evil Strawberry says

    Wow it flew by really fast. Its now 30 years old And to this day its still a good Sabbath Album. Good Post m/

  5. Dylan Main/Abdullah says

    One of the most criminally under rated albums by the band.Eric singer is a good drummer.Tony Martin is always good.The great Bob Daisley on bass.Tony Iommi kills as always.Geoff Nichols on them boards.Eternal Idol is a killer work of art.

  6. I love this album. One of the best, IMO.
    Too bad Ray Gillen didn”t stay on, he had a real powerful voice.
    But Tony Martin didn’t turn out so bad either :)

    And we also got the excellent Badlands album with Ray as a bonus :)

  7. “Eternal Idol” sits among the best of the entire catalog. It is a phenomenal album.

  8. So how come this is the only Sabbath album with Tony Martin on the vocals that have been reissued over the years? My copy of Tyr is probably from a magazine cover or something because it has “CLASSIC ROCK” written all over it, and the copyright dates it to 1999 so I guess that sort of counts as a reissue, but I’d like to have a proper reissue of it.

    You’d think there was some money to be made in re-releasing the other ones – I’d certainly love to see some kind of a Deluxe version of Headless Cross that comes with Cloak & Dagger, or Cross Purposes with a proper DVD of the original live release – even the bootleg omits almost half the videos!

    • Because this is the only Tony Martin album on the original 1970 signed record label deal with Warner (in the US) or Vertigo (later Castle, later Universal) elsewhere. The rest of them are on IRS. Separate deal.

  9. Great post and an awesome album. Its a very underrated album and a solid album. My favorite songs are “Ancient Warrior,” “The Shining,” “Glory Ride,” and “The Eternal Idol.” I first heard it when I was 17 years old which was 20 years ago but 20 years is still a long time and time flies! Eric has solid drumming all through the album especially on the title track,” Glory Ride”, and “Nightmare.” Tony Martin is a great vocalist and he did an amazing job and I really enjoyed Geoff’s keyboard work. Bob is a great bassist and Tony has so many awesome riffs and solos! I also heard the version with Ray and I really enjoyed his work on the demos. I hope the Ray Gillen version will see a proper release in America someday. A great album indeed!

  10. Thank you! Very insightful!

  11. I agree that this is a sadly overlooked album, with tons of strong musical moments on it. I couldn’t understand the lackluster critical and fan response in 1987 and I still can’t today. The production is strong, the writing and musicianship is excellent, and it made me an instant Tony Martin fan. Thank bog there are some Sabbath fans out there who have take the time to know and love this album.

  12. I’m a fan of all Sabbath and have always been disappointed that the Tony Martin era gets overlooked. The very second I heard Tony Martin’s voice on The Shining, I too was a fan like Mark in the previous comment. Is there any word on when Mr. Iommi is going to do the reissues of the Tony Martin era CDs? I’m really looking forward to them. Now it’s time to throw on Cross Purposes, it’s been awhile since I’ve listened to it!

  13. Marco Farinelli says

    So… i’m one of the lucky few who saw the Eternal Idol Tour? Yay! A few memories… and sorry fr my faltering english.

    It was in Roma, Italy, i still have the ticket… it was a funny experience. The concert was to be played al Palazzo dello Sport dell’Eur, in the capital, but poor sales (in his book Tony gives another explanation, i never heard of at the time, involving the pope…) obliged the organization to move to a small movie theater in an elegant suburbia near the capital, a few km from the beach.
    It was a very small venue, very elegant, shiny new, in which we were crowded like cattle. Great atmosphere and great concert, though (just the drumming was a bit… poor, elementary). Nichols was on the stage, in plain view, and seemed very happy, he was very theatrical during all the concert, inciting the crowd with ample gestures. Martin was more clumsy, but they all seemed to appreciate to be so close to the crowd, and especially our effort to balance on the armrests of the chairs! Even Tony exploded in laughs a couple of times… some human avalanches were pretty spectacular, i gotta say… lots of fun. Incredible atmosphere.

    When we left… we discovered that the entrance of the theatre was destroyed, with the shutter torn apart, in pieces. The small central avenue seemed to have survived a storm. We discovered that after the theatre was full well beyond its capacity, they closed the shutter. But a lot of people coming from Naples reached the theatre a bit late (maybe they went to the PalaSport, initially) and, even if they had the ticket, were not allowed to enter. It was impossible, anyway. I told u, it was VERY crowded. So… the guerrilla exploded, with the intervention of the police. And the poor peaceful suburbia was ravaged.
    From the inside we didn’t heard ANYTHING. But maybe it was me, after a few minutes i reached the front row, close to Tony… and to the amps…

    Anyway, i still ask myself why Sabbath accepted to play in a so small venue… maybe they wanted to test the new line-up, i dont know…

    • Marco Farinelli says

      Maybe more interesting then my ramblings… the setlist, with 3 tracks from the new album.

      Neon Knights
      Children of the Sea
      War Pigs
      Die Young
      Iron Man
      Born to Lose
      Black Sabbath
      Glory Ride
      Heaven and Hell
      Children of the Grave
      The Shining

  14. Jimmy Whitefield says

    As always Joe. You deliver the goods! Been following this site since i first started using the internet haha, back in 1998. I think the first track that i heard was `lost forever` from this album on a compilation cassette that i got from a fellow sabbath fan in school (also 1998). Probably their best with Martin.

  15. have listened to this great album forever.I think The Shining was the track I heard here.Theres something great from every track and just love the acoustic piece The Scarlet Pimpernal.Again Tony Iommi never disappoints .Black Sabbath 4ever .Brian Metcalfe.Great artwork or statuary here as well.Bonus tracks also well recieved.A reunion with Tony Martin would rock.

  16. Yeah what Bob Daisley says is right; the title track (with Ray Gillen) is one of the most interesting songs recorded, very complex and nuanced, should have been played live on all the recent megatours!….yea not very realistic… But Tony could put out a new interpretation on his next

  17. Great article, although a bit all over the place (no fault of the writer) due to the ridiculous amount of line up changes! I think the constant line up changes from 1983 until 1997 made the Black Sabbath name a right joke during the 1990’s. How things have changed now, and rightfully there sited as legends. I think that was always going to happen but jeez, a legendary band using ‘Black Sabbath’ as its band name with such a huge amount of line up changes at the time just isn’t right in my opinion. Where did there integrity go?! Management or record company insistance, someone should of put there foot down and had more respect for the original and Dio line up. Rant over! On this album, I first came across the track ‘The Shining’, and it was due to a lad in my class at school (about 1990) having a mix tape he lent me which started with this track. I thought this and some Electric Boys songs were great, but that was it. Then a lad next door to my mom and dads (who got me into Queen and Maiden) gave me a cassette copy of ‘The Eternal Idol’ because he didn’t like it (he gave me Saxon ‘Wheels of Steel’ and The Scorpions ‘Blackout’ as well). From then until this day, ‘The Eternal Idol’ is one of my favourite albums of all time. Every track spot on, classis Sabbath riffs (even an acoustic section nod to ‘Spiral Architect’ in ‘Glory Ride’), the vocals are stunning (even more so given whats pointed out in this article), and the songwriting/arrangments are spot on as well. The only thing i’m not a huge fan of is the drumming (i don’t like the tuning of the drums, and there’s a drum mistake in ‘Born To Lose’ where he shifts to a ride cymbal instead of the hi hat). I’m probably splitting hairs because i play drums as well! But there is plenty of great air drum moments on this album to be fair lol (the track ‘Eternal Ido’ being my favourite for this)l! I’m still waiting to see Tony Martin live (maybe the Cozy Powell Bash in Bilston, Dec 2019) or the new band he’s putting together to play his Sabbath era songs. Some of us might get to hear songs from ‘The Eternal Idol’ live yet! But why Iommi doesn’t record stuff with him again is such a wasted opportunity in my opinion. I listened to the Ray Gillen vocal takes of this album last night. It’s defintely not as polished as the Tony Martin final mix, but it sounds more like a 70’s rock band album for it, so maybe more credible? Except for the awful flange/chorus on Iommi’s guitar which thankfully got removed! Either way how do you find not one, but 2 vocalists which such an impressive vocal range seemingly at ease!? I think its fair to say, musicians, vocalists and albums of this brillinace just aren’t gathered together as they use to be! For it to be such a solid album all considered is incredibly impressive (but i bet the drugs helped lol!). It just so happens as well that my cousin knows close friends of Geoff Nicholls, and apparantly some musicians are going to try and finish a load of tracks that Geoff left behind (one of the musicians looking to do this is the guitarist from a band called ‘Quartz’ that some of you may know from the 70’s).

  18. thomas yunick says

    Scarlet Pimpernel …. The most drama free track on this album for Iommi… I always thought you could hear Ray Gillen as the song Eternal Idol fades at the very end. or some weird effect? ? .. I bought this album on the day it came out when I was 15. My friend made a comment that day .. it should have had a few more tracks seemed too short … Then I find out after all these years about the side B tracks…. Better late than never. Thanks for the real story.. I had nothing but MTV and Hit parader Magazine…where I lived. which was typically weak on anything Sabbath.

  19. I think the first track that i heard was `lost forever` from this album on a compilation cassette that i got from a fellow sabbath fan in school (also 1998). Probably their best with Martin.

  20. Sandip Chakrabarty says

    Great article Joe……I bought this album in 1988 and was a Martin fan instantly and ever since….. couldn’t understand some press I read at the time dismissing him as a Dio clone. Also loved the drumming, and Tony Iommi was as solid as ever

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