6 Album Sunday
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6 Album Sunday

Never Say Die! Eddy Reassesses Black Sabbath’s Much Maligned Breakup Album From 1978.

Come on Sabbath lovers. Never Say Die!, Ozzy Osbourne’s final album with Black Sabbath (before the 2013 reunion) is actually a cracking good album! Like Technical Ecstasy before it, it only suffers relatively from comparison with the earlier albums, that were even better, but as a standalone rock album from 1978 it knocks the spots off most competitors.

Granted the sound is different from what we were used to, with a more conventional rock sound — the tracks are more upbeat, the guitar is tuned higher and the overall production is super polished. There are even elements of jazz which is not entirely alien to the Sabs going back as far as their debut album (although admittedly instrumental honker Breakout is taking it too far).

There is a reason the best bands have a good singer.

Another track that doesn’t work too well is the messy closer Swinging The Chain where Bill Ward takes up vocals again as he did more successfully on It’s Alright from Technical Ecstasy (there is a reason the best bands have a good singer).

However where the new polished production really comes together well is on tracks like Junior’s Eyes which has a funky drum and bass backing a chugging guitar, and a catchy chorus, and Air Dance which has fluid guitar and piano arpeggios and goes full on jazz fusion in its second half.

The overall continuity of sound and style is pleasing and in the title song Never Say Die! the band nail down one of their most exciting rockers ever — enough to keep even the most cynical fan happy.

I also love the cover with the hooded pilots, stormy sky, and iconic Sabbath font (another from Hipgnosis).

Despite it’s difficult provenance and the messy aftermath leading to Osbourne’s replacement by Ronnie James Dio Never Say Die! remains a fitting, albeit underrated, (first) swansong for vintage period Sabbath.

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