A review by Sunlion

I saw Sabbath again on 11/11/78, same venue...

That was the year Van Halen became well-known, with Eddie going wild with the Hendrixish air war and arpeggiating guitar. It was what we were waiting for, and that was, in my opinion, the peak of their career. After that, it was almost a crime that they were referred to as 'heavy metal.'" Heavy Metal was Sabbath and Zeppelin and certainly not Van Halen. The term became seriously corrupted through misuse.

It's sort of amusing to think back on the days when Eddie Van Halen was considered a great guitarist- amazing how far the guitar craft has come along- he's nothing compared to modern guitarists like Mike Keneally, for instance.

I say all of this because Black Sabbath didn't want to be blown offstage by this hot new band Van Halen who was their opening act. The fast guitar of Eddie Van Halen was the reason much of the audience was there, and it seemed that Sabbath tried to compete with Van Halen by playing THEIR game. Too much fast guitar, it seemed, not the careful, thoughtful, craftsmanship that made Black Sabbath such a powerful force. Compared to the time I'd seen them in '77, it was like seeing a different band, one who had deliberately sought to change its sound to keep up with the times. Huh?!

I can't imagine what Sabbath would sound like now. I think I heard the original band is playing together again? I've seen some bands evolve over the years until there are no original members at all- or just one, who still miraculously hold onto the original spirit of the band's sound. Two excellent examples are Three Dog Night, who has/had just one original member, but who really captured the spirit of the original sound and did not sound like a cover band at all. I also saw "The Byrds" circa 1996, and though none of the originals (heck, the one who'd been with them the longest had joined in '75, I think) were with them, they were really good. The Eight Miles High psychedelic jam was stellar. I'm digressing again.

But after seeing the change in Black Sabbath from '77 to '79, even without personnel overhauls, I'm scheptical that the band today could capture that original vibe. Then again, Sabbath had been playing for about 8 years before MY first show, so maybe old-timers would say they were already over the hill by '77 ;)

Posted by: Joe Siegler Author Profile Page at December 1, 2009 10:26 PM