Mob Rules (2 CD Deluxe Edition)
BLACK SABBATH’s tenth album “Mob Rules” was released in 1981 and came close to the success of its predecessor “Heaven And Hell”. Gaining high spots on the top charts, the album was eventually certified gold in the US and silver in the U.K. “Mob Rules” on the other hand was the second BLACK SABBATH album with frontman Ronnie James Dio where his soaring vocal prowess forever stitches the lines “If you listen to fools / the mob rules”. Although he sang with feelings that last forever, the line-up of the album, with guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Vinny Appice, did not last long. One year after the release of the record, Dio departed to form his own band. More than forty years later, this still raises the question of what else could have been (enter “Dehumanizer” in 1992, respectively HEAVEN & HELL’s “The Devil You Know” in 2009 – Frank)! No wonder many thought, SABBATH was going to struggle to follow the creative pinnacle of “Heaven And Hell”. But in their second collaboration, the songwriter trio Dio, Iommi, and Butler succeeds in stringing together some memorable Heavy Metal classics. Compared to “Heaven And Hell”, “Mob Rules” is a very different sounding album that is much condensed in tune, a harder and punchier edge in terms of production, and darker in its lyrical subject matters. This is already shown by the opener ‘Turn Up The Night’. As soon as Ronnie starts singing you get that energy with the band’s bombastic slab of 80s Metal and intense up-tempo grooves. The worn epic of the predecessor shines through at best in the great ‘Sign Of The Southern Cross’, as well as the instrumental piece ‘E5150’ which is a great sort of intro to the first half of the album’s closer with the splendid title track. It’s impossible not to mention one fascinating history layered with the title track here – while on the road, their label asked them to record a song for the soundtrack to Heavy Metal, a big screen adaption of the underground sci-fi magazine, at John Lennon’s state. Rather than using their gear, Iommi & Co, picked up the instrument they found lying around – ones that ostensibly belongs to THE BEATLES – to write a breakneck, driving new rager to cut through the film’s otherworldliness: ‘The Mob Rules’. Although the band created a new version of ‘The Mob Rules’ later, as the old one was created with THE BEATLES’ old gear, and the sound of that track was completely different than the rest of the record. Anyone would agree now that being reunited with producer Martin Birch for this record surely paid heavily off, as you can hear in the doomy ‘Falling Off The Edge Of The World’, where Iommi played his instrument in a way that sounded like a weeping violin (possibly Iommi’s 12-string Rickenbacker was responsible), or the quirky ‘Voodoo’, a mid-tempo hard menacer, where Dio is belting it out at full stretch with an eerie chorus, which made regular waves on US radios. So is the heaviness of Geezer’s rumbling bass swept like an undercurrent throughout all the tracks. ‘Sign Of The Southern Cross’ is just that tremendous Geezer Butler showcase, and the bassist shines with some of his most tasteful work; understated at times and beautifully complex underneath all of Dio and Iommi‘s bombast at others. For the record, replacing Bill Ward was no mere task, but the powerful drumming courtesy of the ‘wrecking machine’ Vinnie Appice, simply sounds organic and massive. Through the record Dio’s vocal performance is one of his best in his reigns and his lyrics are among the poetic finest. The closing ‘Over And Over’ is another classic. It’s a slow dark doomy number fittingly ended the record with unbelievable vocals by Dio – like a lasting legacy. So, rightfully, BMG salutes the long shadow cast by this short-lived line-up with a newly remastered version, expanded with rare and unreleased numbers, available on 2 CD or 2 LP sets. To make things more irresistible, the “Mob Rules” Deluxe Edition contains tons of bonus tracks, and they are one of the most thrilling things to get into. On the one hand, there is a previously unreleased “2021 Mix” of the album’s title song. This is not a sky-wide difference from the original, but certainly interesting for hardcore fans. It gives the song a more contemporary touch. Also included are single B-sides, the ‘The Mob Rules’ version from the soundtrack of the revered film “Heavy Metal” and numerous live recordings. The latter is spread over two concerts. Four tracks were recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London between December 31, 1981 and January 02, 1982. On the second disc there are 15 songs from a stellar performance of BLACK SABBATH at the Portland Memorial Coliseum, in Portland, Oregon on April 22, 1982. Two of them are available here for the first time and all these extra live stuff from the early 80s will give you the raw feelings of how sensationally captivating a band could sound on stage! Like the new edition of “Heaven And Hell”, the “Mob Rules” deluxe edition comes in a mouth-watering digipak whose interior is tastefully fully designed. The booklet fantastically dispenses with a print detailed liner notes, enticing old press clippings, and never known history behind the record. You can get to know the mesmerizing tale behind the album artwork told by artist Greg Hildebrandt himself, which will make you reimagine the album artwork from a completely separate perspective. When this record was released back in the autumn of 1981, Heavy Metal was really thriving and getting big with killer British bands like SAXON, ANGEL WITCH, WHITE SPIRIT, IRON MAIDEN, RAVEN, PRAYING MANTIS, VENOM, GIRLSCHOOL, DEF LEPPARD, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, SAMSON, TANK, TOKYO BLADE, as well as heavyweights that had been around since the mid 70s. “Mob Rules” truly fits in with all the great Metal releases and stuff that was happening at this time. So, all purpose collectors of the band cannot avoid this purchase due to the exclusive material of the Deluxe Edition alone. And as in the case of all classics applies: if you don’t own the record yet, you should also access this all-around package to brag for a lifetime. To know more about the band and release, visit www.facebook.com/blacksabbath, www.bmg.com.
• BLACK SABBATH - Mob Rules (2 CD Deluxe Expanded Edition) (Frank Stöver)