In Nashville 1978 (No Label)
Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, TN, USA – November 19, 1978
Disc 1 (46:30) Supertzar, Symptom Of The Universe, Snowblind, War Pigs, Never Say Die, Fairies Wear Boots, Black Sabbath, Shock Waves
Disc 2 (48:55) Dirty Women, Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor, Drum Solo, Band Jam #1, Orchid (guitar solo), Band Jam #2, Electric Funeral, Iron Man, Children Of The Grave, Introduction for Paranoid (tape cuts before song starts)
Black Sabbath was in turmoil in the late seventies, Ozzy Osbourne would leave the band after the Technical Ecstasy tour and be briefly replaced by Dave Walker of Savoy Brown fame, the band even played on the BBC Midlands Look Here ! show playing an embryonic version of “Juniors Eyes”. The union was a failure and Ozzy would return to Camp Sabbath and recording would start in the chilly climate of Toronto, Canada and would ultimately become the singer’s swan song with Sabbath, Never Say Die. The band would tour in support of the record, The 10th Anniversary tour was made up of extensive dates in the UK followed by a US tour with a short 10 date European jaunt sandwiched in the middle. Van Halen was the opening band for the majority of the tour, the young and energetic Californian powerhouse gave Sabbath a run for their money and many saw it as the changing of the guard so to speak, thankfully this new release from the folks at No Label have given us the chance to further examine the state of the boys from Birmingham ten years gone, so to speak.
The recording from the band’s stop in Nashville, TN in 1978 was a memorable one, the band was originally scheduled to play days earlier on November 16 but after a night of hard parting with VH frontman David Lee Roth, Ozzy went to the hotel and somehow ended up in the wrong room and slept for over 24 hours, missing the concert and was, for a short period, feared dead. Thankfully the band was able to reschedule on November 19, even more thankful was that an enterprising fan was able to tape the concert. The audience recording is very good, it has an excellent ambience to it thanks to the wild audience, yes this is a rowdy tape but it gives us a chance to listen and enjoy the band’s performance. The music is clear and well balanced and Ozzy’s vocals are perfect in the mix, as is the crowd, there is just a slight tape hiss, it is minimal and what is normal for a tape of its age.
The recording picks up with the “Supertzar” intro amid a barrage of fire works, it’s one of those nights indeed, the band warms up and Ozzy yells “Finally made it” and “let’s go f*cking wild” as the band heads into the set opening “Symptom Of The Universe”. Ozzy’s voice is hoarse but is strong and his typical charm more than makes up for it. Bill Ward is in great shape and is on fire for the opener. Ozzy apologizes to the crowd about missing the first gig and introduces “Snowblind”, although the band will need a minute to tune, Ozzy demands actions “Lets get this place moving”, they oblige by clapping along. The song is ponderous and crawls across the stage in a haze as if moving in slow motion, Iommi’s solo helps weave the dreamlike waves of sound that covers the audience. Ozzy gives it his all and gets the audience involved to pick things up with the fast paced “don’t you think I know what I’m Doing” to great effect. “War Pigs” follows, same as the previous the lumbering giant sounds tired but heats up as Ozzy demands “C’mon Nashville, show me what you got”, it is his unboundless energy that pushes the band to pick it up, his voice by this time has lost the rough edges and is quite well. His energy fuels the crowd who fuel the band and they turn in a fine performance of the classic song.
Ozzy introduces a track from the new album and they proceed to play a rousing version of “Never Say Die”, it has a lot of spunk and the group sounds like a fresh band by this point, Bill Ward is drumming his ass off making for a spirited version with an extended guitar solo giving the song a jam feel to it. “Fairies Wear Boots” has an apocalyptic feeling as it begins thanks to a barrage of fire crackers being set off, undaunted the band play as if nothing is happening. Where “Snowblind” and “War Pigs” were more Dinosaurian, “Fairies” has a swagger that is infectious as the band play a spirited version that has a good…groove. The song gives the band a minute to collect their breaths while Ozzy tells the audience of the bands 10th anniversary and introduces himself as “sleepy” Ozzy and introduces the song that started it all. “Black Sabbath” is played straight, no guitar solo or fanfare just the song, in all its evil glory, again Bill Ward must be commended, he plays the song beautifully as his fills echo the lyric and guitar notes to perfection, Ozzy proclaims “Let’s rock and roll with the devil” as a prelude to the fast riff ending. The second new song that made the set list is perhaps the heaviest song on Never Say Die, “Shock Waves” stands alone as what can be called old school Sabbath, the riff is monstrous, solos are crisp and Bill’s drumming is phenomenal, the recording is immediately cut at the songs conclusion, thankfully the taper kept an eye on his equipment and waited to the last second for a tape flip.
The second disc begins with the Technical Ecstasy song “Dirty Women”, there are some tape issues at the 1:22 to 1:26 where it sounds like a portion of the tape was damaged, thankfully it is brief and quickly clears in time for the band to go from the sonically depressive main riff into a brilliant Iommi solo and the songs rousing chorus, the state of euphoria is abundant as Ozzy demands to see every hand in the joint, he is certainly giving his all. The song flows right into “Rock N Roll Doctor”; it has good time feel to it that seems to be a crowd favorite, so much that someone ignited an explosion at the 3 minute mark that is jarring to say the least. The song is short and is merely a vehicle for the band improvisation section that begins with a Bill Ward Drum Solo. Listening to his playing during this show brings into perspective how important he was to Sabbath, His hard hitting style is well displayed as he gets a great ovation to bashing the hell out of his kit. Tony and Geezer join in for a band jam that is quite fast paced and enjoyable, it then leads into guitar solo, Tony sounds as if he took some inspiration off Eddie as he begins with a furious barrage of notes that is quite well played before moving into the haunting “Orchid” from Master Of Reality, extended and a little meandering is this version. The second band jam takes you back to the days of old as it has almost a blues / jazz feel like they used to play in the very early days, they then proceed to move into a more progressive feel before going into another of those fantastic unreleased Iommi riffs that sounds similar to “Hole In The Sky” but much simpler in its construction, Geezer gets into the mix with some almost funky bass, well, funky for Sabbath that is. Out of the blue they even break into the main riff to “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, sadly with no vocals, the band is really laying it down and let the musical improvisation flow.
Iommi moves into an effects filled Hendrix soaring string of notes from which rise the Paranoid classic “Electric Funeral”, sounding as if shrouded in a haze of nuclear fallout in its doom brilliance. One of my all time favorite Sabbath songs, one can only wonder why it took so long to make its live debut as it works well in the concert setting. It flows right into “Iron Man”, the war horse is a live favorite but does sound a little tired to these ears although it gets a huge ovation at its conclusion. Ozzy tells the crowd they are finishing up and yells “DISCO SUCKS”, and one can only agree, they proceed to slam the crowd with a tight and aggressive “Children Of The Grave”, the sound is slightly muffled as if there is some movement near the taper but clears as Ozzy starts singing. The band leave the stage after the songs conclusion and the insanity starts, the audience ignites fireworks, cheer and stop and proceed to beat the hell out of the seats until the band returns amid Ozzy screaming “Your the f*cking greatest !”, unfortunately all we get is some ho down style tuning from the band as the taper ran out of tape and the recording ends, omitting the encore of “Paranoid”. In Nashville 1978 is a well played and very enjoyable document, the band seem that they still had a lot of life left in them and on this night seemed up to the task to showing the youngsters how it is done. Sadly what would kill the band and be its downfall was addiction.
The packaging is nice, live shots of the band with a great shot of Ozzy doing one of his famous frog leaps on the inside cover, the discs have pictures also, Tony and Bill on the first and Ozzy and Geezer on the second. Great recording and performance, my only other boot from 1978 is the once from the Hammersmith Odeon video soundtrack and while the quality is excellent the performance is mearly average so this is a much welcomed release and fits well in my Sabbath collection.