Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol (1987)

Black Sabbath - The Eternal Idol

Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol (1987, Warner Bros.)

  1. The Shining
  2. Ancient Warrior
  3. Hard Life To Love
  4. Glory Ride
  5. Born To Lose
  6. Nightmare
  7. Scarlet Pimpernel
  8. Lost Forever
  9. Eternal Idol

Band Lineup/Featured Musicians:
Tony Iommi – Guitars
Tony Martin – Vocals
Dave Spitz – Bass
Bob Daisley – Bass
Eric Singer – Drums
Bev Bevan – Percussion
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Total Time – 43:04

Black-Sabbath.com
Iommi.com

THE ETERNAL IDOL marks the beginning of the Tony Martin-era of Black Sabbath. The album’s true origins begin after the tour for SEVENTH STAR with then touring vocalist Ray Gillen (Badlands) initially recording the songs. Later, after Gillen’s departure, Martin is brought in and the vocals are re-recorded. There are bootlegs of the Ray Gillen sessions floating around, more info can be found at The Black Sabbath Live Project. Nonetheless, Tony Martin becomes the sixth singer in Sabbath history, but only the fifth to be properly recorded on album.

My favorite track from this album is the opener, ‘The Shining’. Immeadiately, Tony Iommi takes control with one big monster riff, constantly pounding you, trademark Sabbath. Martin shows his abilities right away: his range from low to high is dead on and the guy can sing, not scream. A very Dio-esque delivery (a comparison that will follow Martin over the years).

‘Ancient Warrior’ slows down to a mid-tempo pace,  while ‘Hard Life To Love’ speeds up the proceedings…..both tracks enjoying the Iommi mastery. Has he ever come up with a bad riff or solo? What throws me off is the keyboards that open ‘Ancient Warrior’, they just seem out of place but they do add to the pace and texture of the song, whereas ‘Hard Life To Love’ grabs hold with the guitar. It’s a fast song but retains a bluesy feel with each verse. Martin changes his technique to more of Ray Gillen’s, Gillen possessing the bluesy David Coverdale style, one can see that the song was written specifically for his style.

‘Glory Ride’ begins with yet another thunder riff and continuing into a mid-tempo gallop peppered with a bit of keyboard over the top. What I find myself focusing on is Eric Singer’s double bass drumming especially during Iommi’s solo. ‘Born To Lose’ is faster, retaining the feel of ‘Hard Life To Love’. Again, strong riff and a blues-tinged style, Martin again probably following the initial Gillen vocal closely. Best part of the song for me is the harmony during the chorus, not sure why but I really enjoy that part.

I get bored with ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’. ‘Nightmare’ is the “ballad” of the album, it’s slow and plodding, halfway through it speeds up and slows back down again. It’s not a bad song per se but it just bores me. Tony Martin does a decent job but he screams a bit too much for my taste. It’s not a Bruce Dickinson-type scream, maybe more of a wail, either way it seems out of place. ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ is Bev Bevan’s sole recording on the album as he does the percussion on this instrumental. All Black Sabbath albums have an instrumental, THE ETERNAL IDOL, being no different. I enjoy hearing Iommi break from the signature guitar and do something softer with Nicholls’ keyboard inter-laced. I guess my problem is that the first five songs really jump at you with a certain power and tempo and then you slow down for two songs. Those first five songs are so good I guess I feel let down.

That feeling goes away with speed rocker ‘Lost Forever’ which immeadiately picks up the pace and has my favorite Iommi solo on the album. ‘Eternal Idol’ is the longest song on the record and reminds me of ‘Black Sabbath’ from the first album. It’s a haunting song, has that eerie feel. Martin really hits the highs on this song, while it’s a slow dirge, he seems to soar over it. Nicholls adds that subtle keyboard again giving the song another layer. ‘Eternal Idol’ is another album favorite and I think it would have fit better after ‘Born To Lose’ and let ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ close it out.

Bottom Line: Better than the previous album, SEVENTH STAR. Superb guitar, excellent drumming, and very powerful songs. The only complaint I have is that Tony Martin seems to follow the approach Ray Gillen probably used on half the songs, changing his personal style for that of Ray’s. The songs were written in accordance with Gillen’s abilities so the listener can tell when Martin is changing. All in all, a good album and fine comeback.

Black Sabbath – The Tony Martin Years

When you talk about the founding fathers of Heavy Metal, one band stands above all…..Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass), Ozzy Osbourne (vocals), and Bill Ward (drums)…..the original lineup of Black Sabbath…..pioneers in helping create the basics of what we call Heavy Metal.

When you start to discuss the Black Sabbath career, fans become divided into two camps:

  1. The Ozzy purists who believe the only Sabbath is the original Sabbath and…..
  2. The Tony Iommi diehards who profess an allegiance to all eras of Sabbath, concentrating on the full catalog rather than just the Ozzy years.

Myself? I’m in category two, my allegiance is to the full career/catalog of the band. I equally enjoy the original lineup, the Ronnie James Dio years, the Ian Gillan experiment, the Glenn Hughes project, and the Tony Martin era. Granted, some albums and lineups I enjoy more than others but I am a fan of Black Sabbath the band.

Many fans divide when it comes to who is/was at the mic. Most accept the Dio albums because they are fine pieces of work. Many recognize the Gillan led BORN AGAIN (1983) because the album sold and the tour was successful. The downturn in support starts with singer change #4 to Glenn Hughes on SEVENTH STAR (1986), which was supposed to be a Tony Iommi solo album. A band can only go to the well so many times and, when Mr. Hughes developed vocal problems on the road, in stepped official singer #5, Ray Gillen (Badlands). After the Seventh Star tour, personnel changes plagued the band again resulting in Gillen leaving and the band regrouping with Tony Martin taking the mic in 1987.

—- For a far better detailed history of Black Sabbath, please refer to Black-Sabbath.com for a specific timeline. —-

With Tony Martin on vocals from 1987-1990 and 1993-1995, the band released six albums:

  • The Eternal Idol (1987)
  • Headless Cross (1989)
  • TYR (1990)
  • Cross Purposes (1994)
  • Cross Purposes Live (1995)
  • Forbidden (1995)

What I really like about this time is that the band is still trying to create new music amid a changing musical climate and numerous personnel changes. Martin can write songs and the Iommi/Martin team produced some of the most memorable Sabbath songs that the general fan may not know about. Songs like ‘The Shining’, ‘Headless Cross’, ‘Devil & Daughter’, and ‘When Death Calls’ became an integral part of the Sabbath catalog and tour setlists. Some of Tony Iommi’s best riffs and solos come from the 1990s with Tony Martin collaborating.

I also like the “underdog” factor. When Martin took over singing duties, bands like Black Sabbath were considered dinosaurs, they weren’t as popular as the bands of the day (Poison, Guns ‘n Roses, Bon Jovi) that had taken over radio and MTV. A few years later in the ’90s, the band had to contend with the sudden shift to the Alternative that condemned many Metal acts to early retirement.  The band continued touring and producing new material even though sold-out shows and platinum albums (especially in the U.S.) were hard to come by.

Tony Martin has a great singing voice, period. He was able to sing all eras of Sabbath on tour with great range and power. That ability enabled the band to branch out and play Ozzy-era, Dio-era, and other material in concert, creating a fresh live experience for band and fan alike.

The Black Sabbath albums with Tony Martin on vocals tend to be forgotten about…..even when they were new, they were afterthoughts so to speak. With Ozzy back in the band for touring and the new collaboration with Dio in the Heaven & Hell project, albums like HEADLESS CROSS and TYR are bound to be buried further while the “golden years” are celebrated regularly. The albums are seemingly harder to find: they didn’t sell all that well so there aren’t that many retail copies out there. I.R.S., Sabbath’s label for most of their ’90s catalog, folded years ago but some of the albums have had the reissue treatment in small distribution. If you’re interested in good Heavy Metal, Black Sabbath style, head to Ebay where the albums are easy to find at a decent price.

Further information on Black Sabbath history, Tony Martin, and future projects can be found at the following:

Black-Sabbath.com
Black Sabbath Live Project
Tony Martin – official website
Tony Iommi – official website

Black Sabbath Week – The Tony Martin Years

Here is the lineup for a week of Black Sabbath featuring Tony Martin:

  1. Commentary on the Tony Martin era
  2. The Eternal Idol (1987) album review & a video from the album
  3. Headless Cross (1989) album review & a video from the album
  4. TYR (1990) album review & a video from the album
  5. Cross Purposes (1994) album review & a video from the album
  6. Forbidden (1995) album review

Update on 12/19/06 — Black Sabbath Week actually went longer and lasted almost a month! All the posts are linked here.

New bassist in Van Halen: Wolfgang Van Halen

From Andrew at Melodicrock.com:

A lot of speculation and a lot of new updates are now appearing in relation to the Van Halen alive again in 2007 news started here a couple of weeks back. Late last week celeb gossip site TMZ.com posted news of the band and who would play bass. Today G4TV ran a quote from band publicist Janie Liszewski confirming that news. I called Liszewski for a confirmation of these comments. She happily obliged, stating that yes, Wolfgang Van Halen was the band’s new bassist, suggesting that this wasn’t news, as it was stated as such on Howard Stern by Eddie Van Halen in September. She also confirmed that the Van Halen trio – Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang were ‘busy in the studio, rehearsing and writing’. The rehearsing of course is for the aforementioned 2007 tour that the band’s management are currently shopping to prospective promoters. No confirmation as yet of the vocalist for next year’s Van Halen tour – but as stated in my original report, David Lee Roth is the singer that is being included in the package offered to concert promoters. I’m told Roth has not yet visited the Van Halen’s in the studio.
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— Interesting news but the writing was on the wall. It’s not a Van Halen reunion without Michael Anthony, in my opinion. I’m sure Wolfgang Van Halen is talented but I’m not paying the money to see 3/4 of Van Halen, even with Diamond Dave. This move probably also seals the fate of the Hagar-era in Van Halen. I doubt Sammy would work in Van Halen again without Mike.

CD Scavenger Hunt – “The packed in boxes & KISSology” Edition

Just a quick update to let you all know what’s happening with the move, the house, the boxes!

The house….. 

We are totally moved. The old apartment has been cleaned by the wonderful crew we hired and the only thing left to grab there is my tailgating equipment for the Patriots games. Pats vs. Colts Sunday night……go Pats!

The unpacking has gone extremely smooth. Both my daughters’ rooms are done, the kitchen is done, and my new double living room is done. The master suite upstairs is a mess but that is the focus this weekend. I still have no solution for storing my CDs though. The cases I have are over 6 ft tall and they won’t fit upstairs due to the slants with the ceilings. That’s another project over vacation.

Music…..

With all the CDs packed in boxes, I’ve been limited to the new Paul Stanley solo album, the latest from Quiet Riot, Mastodon, and UFO. I found my Black Sabbath box set (Ozzy era) and that has had a ton of play.

I went out and bought the new Hammerfall disc, THRESHOLD, and the Ace Frehley – GREATEST HITS LIVE! for ten bucks each. I also grabbed the new Iced Earth DVD, ALIVE IN ATHENS. My biggest purchase was the new KISSOLOGY set from KISS. If you’ve read my blog long enough you know I’m a KISS diehard, so I will answer the question before it’s asked:

Yes, I did buy all three versions!

I started at Wal-Mart for their exclusive bonus disc. (I hate Wal-Mart. I don’t like going in unless forced. I’m a Union worker and Wal-Mart destroys Union jobs…..Ok, another rant for another time)

I went to Best Buy next for their bonus disc and then to Newbury Comics for the regular set that has a 3rd version of the bonus DVD. So Gene and Paul got me to buy three times totalling $60. That’s actually not bad compared to what I’ve been known to hand over to Mr. $immons and Mr. Stanley. Couldn’t make Paul’s show in NYC, if he came to Boston I’d have been there.

Upcoming…..

I have some great ideas to write about but the focus I have is the Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath and the Quiet Riot Career Review, which will end with a full review of their new album, REHAB. I might do the Martin-era Sabbath as a full week or a Career Review, not sure. I would also like to get the new Krokus reviewed and the new Hammerfall, maybe a DVD review in there too. KISSOLOGY has to wait because I need the time to really enjoy it and be the fanboy I am. Once I start unpacking my collection into their new storage home, I am going to pull out some moldy oldies to review. Meanwhile, keep the comments coming!

Thanks,

Steve