Black Sabbath – To Do Or Die (Power Gate-260)

To Do Or Die (Power Gate-260)

City Hall  Sheffield, UK – May  21st, 1986

Disc 1:  Intro Supertzer, Mob Rules, Children Of The Sea, War Pigs, Danger Zone, Heart Like A Wheel, Sympton Of The Universe, Sweet Leaf, Zero The Hero / Sphinx, Seventh Star

Disc 2:  member introduction, Turn To Stone, Eric Singer drum solo, Die  Young, Black Sabbath, Dave Spitz bass solo, N.I.B., Neon Knights, Heaven And Hell, guitar solo, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath / Heaven And Hell, Children Of The Grave, Supernaut (intro), Paranoid

To Do  Or Die contains a very good to excellent slightly distant audience recording  from Sheffield during the tour to promote the highly underrated and under  appreciated Seventh Star album. There is very little audience interference on  this recording and all instruments and vocals can be heard with little if any  noticeable hiss. This recording sounds great when played loud, which is the way  Black Sabbath should be heard.  After the Born Again tour and the departure of Ian Gillan (who went to the Deep Purple reunion) the core Sabbath band of Iommi, Butler, and Ward began the task of searching for another singer and eventually settled with David Donato  and worked on material that would eventually become Seventh Star.

When this did not work out with Donato the band splintered, Bill Ward retiring and Geezer going on to form the Geezer Butler Band and Iommi started jamming with his then girlfriend Lita Ford’s band consisting of Eric Singer on drums and Dave  Spitz on bass. They started to work with a singer named Jeff Fenholt and further  refined the material that would eventually become Seventh Star. When this did  not work out with Fenholt, Iommi recruited his old friend and former Trapeze and Deep Purple bass man/ singer Glenn Hughes and finally managed to release the  album.

With Glenn Hughes in no shape to tour the band fired him after only five shows and got in the relatively unknown singer Ray Gillen who was working with Bobby Rondinelli of Rainbow fame, sound like Spinal Tap II the singers strike back? Yes and no, while Iommi certainly had a lot of issues with stability he managed to put out a great album (in my opinion) and muscle through a hard tour  with dwindling attendance.  The great thing about the tours Sabbath did from 86 to 91 was the material they could play, without having that “big name” frontman the set lists were varied with material from Sabbath’s entire history and listening back to these tapes the shows were by most accounts very good.

The first disc starts pouf with strong renditions of Dio era classics Mob Rules and Children Of The Sea, Ray Gillen had no problems with the vocals and for the most part are spot on. The tracks from Seventh Star:  “Danger Zone,” “Heart Like A Wheel,” and the title track are all very strong and sound heavier in the  live setting. My only complaint is “Zero The Hero” is reserved as an intro and has  no vocals, it is definitely a great track that has not been heard since.

The second disc has another track from Seventh Star, “Turn To Stone,” and  more songs from the Dio era most notably “Die Young” and “Heaven And Hell” showing that his contribution the Sabbath legacy is unmatched. You also hear the Geoff Nicholls keyboards more on the recordings from  the 86 tour which give the tracks a fuller sound.  All in all this is a great release all Sabbath fans should take note of.  After this tour Iommi would again change singers and eventually the whole band except for Nicholls making this release a snapshot in time where Iommi was  struggling to keep it together and still making very solid music.

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