Early Black Sabbath catalog available digitally for first time ever

When Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Terry “Geezer” Butler and Bill Ward formed Black Sabbath in 1969, “they created a signature sound that set the blueprint for heavy music and influenced generations of disciples for years to come,” reads a news release from Rhino Media regarding the release of Black Sabbath: The Complete Albums Box 1970-1978. The full catalog from the band’s original lineup is now available digitally in the U.S. for the first time ever. The newly mastered collection is designed to give listeners the audio fidelity the artists, recording engineers, and producers intended. What’s more, fans can now either download all albums in one ten-album bundle, or purchase each song individually.

“It’s about f**king time the first eight Black Sabbath albums were made available … in the U.S.,” declares Osbourne about the box set that also contains two classic compilations. “Great news, been a long time trying to explain to fans why the music wasn’t available,” adds Iommi about the collection that features the band’s studio works for Warner Bros. Records. In addition to the groundbreaking eponymous debut (1970), multi-platinum landmark Paranoid (1970), Black Sabbath: The Complete Albums Box 1970-1978 also includes platinum albums Master Of Reality (1971), Vol. 4 (1972), and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973).

Later albums such as the gold-certified Sabotage (1975), Technical Ecstasy (1976), and Never Say Die! (1978) complete the first eight Black Sabbath studio albums in the box set. Also included are the compilations We Sold Our Soul For Rock ‘N’ Roll (1976) and Greatest Hits 1970-1978 (2006), the latter released in connection with the band’s induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Following “wildly successful” shows in North and South America, Australia, Asia and Europe, Black Sabbath continues its heralded reunion tour with additional dates in North America and Europe this summer. The metal masters are hitting ten cities in Canada before temporarily wrapping up April 26 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The April dates represent the band’s final shows of a 2013-2014 world tour in support of 13, Sabbath’s first studio album in 35 years.

The 13 album—produced by seven-time Grammy Award winning producer Rick Rubin—also earned Black Sabbath another Grammy when the song ‘God Is Dead?’ won this year in the Best Metal Performance category. The band’s previous Best Metal Performance Grammy was in 2000 for ‘Iron Man’ off the live album, Reunion. “We’ve had an unbelievable year,” says Osbourne in a statement posted on BlackSabbath.com. “A number one album in thirteen countries, our first-ever number one ever in America, a sold out world tour, and now another Grammy award to top it off. We are shocked and thrilled,” exclaims the pioneering music icon.

Upcoming overseas shows kick off May 29 in Abu Dhabi. The band then performs two gigs in Russia before going on to Europe for the summer festival season. Black Sabbath launched its triumphant 2013-2014 world tour in April 2013 with shows in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. North American dates followed along with performances in South America and Mexico, where a headlining stadium tour attracted more than 300,000 fans.

Watch Black Sabbath in a live performance of ‘Paranoid.’

As A Matter of Fact…

* The story of Black Sabbath begins in Birmingham, England, where Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward looked to music as a way to escape a life of working in factories. The quartet’s early outfits were named Rare Breed and Mythology, but the influence of bands such as Led Zeppelin, Cream, and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers led to the formation of Earth in 1968.

* Butler’s fascination with the macabre inspired the rest of the band members to write a song about the world of black arts called ‘Black Sabbath,’ a title lifted from a 1963 Boris Karloff movie. The song provoked a reaction in audiences unlike anything the four had seen, and they soon adopted the title as the group’s new name.

* With Butler serving as principal lyricist and Iommi as the musical architect, Black Sabbath pursued themes of war, social chaos, the supernatural, the afterlife, and the timeless conflict between good and evil—all topics that fit perfectly into a 1960s mindset that was battling the doom and gloom of assassinations, the Vietnam War, violent demonstrations, and race riots.

* Black Sabbath recorded its self-titled debut in 1969 in a single session, setting the scene of the band’s dark image with thunderclaps and ominous church bells outlining tracks titled ‘The Wizard,’ ’ ‘Warning,’ and, of course, ‘Black Sabbath.’ The band took a similarly “quick and unadulterated approach” to the recording of its second album, Paranoid, which is now widely regarded to be the quintessential Black Sabbath album.

* The response to Sabbath’s first two albums was instantaneous, reaching No. 8 in Britain and staying on the charts for 70 weeks in America. Both albums were certified gold within a year of release, and Black Sabbath launched its legendary reputation as an indefatigable road band. However, the demanding pace of the road and “various lifestyle excesses” began catching up with the band by the mid-‘70s.

* While the next three Black Sabbath albums between 1975 and 1978 (Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy, Never Say Die!) all had “memorable moments,” they lacked the “unalloyed brilliance” of the previous LPs. The end of the band’s early era officially ended in 1978 when frontman Osbourne left to begin his hugely successful solo career.

* With more than 75 million albums sold worldwide, Black Sabbath is credited with creating heavy metal when Black Sabbath and Paranoid “marked a paradigm shift in the world of rock.” In fact, the term “heavy metal” was introduced to describe the “denser, more thunderous offshoot of rock over which [Black Sabbath] presided.”

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