By Brian Ives
“The world’s metal community knows that I love Black Sabbath for everything the band stands for and has achieved,” Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford tells Radio.com.
This weekend, Black Sabbath plays their final gig and this time, we think it’s really their last show. It’s going down tomorrow night (February 4) at Gentling Arena in their hometown of Birmingham.
Halford’s band came up in the same industrial area of England, just a few years behind the Sabs: Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut was released in 1970, while Priest’s Rocka Rolla came out in 1974. Halford is also friends with the guys in the band; in fact, at Ozzy Osbourne’s first “final” show — he first “retired” back in November of 1992 — he invited Black Sabbath to open for him for two farewell shows. They agreed to play, but their then-singer, Ronnie James Dio, bowed out. So Rob Halford got the awesome gig and filled in for two shows. Over a decade later, in 2004, the reunited Black Sabbath and Judas Priest toured together on Ozzfest, and at one of the dates, Ozzy was under the weather and Halford once again fronted the band, the ultimate gig for the massive Sabbath fan.
“Like every Sabbath fan, I have listened to all the music they have made,” Halford says. “Each album does something for me, but here, I’m going to stick to the albums that Ozzy did. I’ve been asked to put these in an order of my favorites, which is hard. Like most Sabbath fans, my choices change. Anyway, here they are!”
1 Black Sabbath (1970) – “This album, recorded in a day, is magic for me. It captures the roots of what they are in the truest sense. You feel like you are in the studio with the lads. The sound of Sabbath resonates in every aspect here, and when the world heard the way Tony Iommi made his guitar sound, the way Geezer Butler made his bass sound, along with the way Bill Ward’s drums were mic-ed and tuned, and the voice of Ozzy Osbourne… well, the response at the time was mixed. They were denounced by some idiots, in their closed minded ivory towers. But for me, and so many other fans hearing them for the first time, we were hooked.”
2 Paranoid (1970) – “There is a confidence and growth here. These songs have stood the test of time. When you hear them today, they sound so fresh and new, it’s like they just reappeared.”
3 13 (2013) – “I was holding my breath for this one, and when they streamed it, I turned it up to eleven. We all know the story behind 13, and suffice to say I was thrilled, excited and over the moon to get some new Sabbath songs. I love each track, and to feel the band come back so powerfully was brilliant.”
4 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) – “What a great title track! Very cool vibes, especially on ‘Fluff.’ Great textures in production. Crazy album art that depicts sexy evil thoughts.”
5 Volume 4 (1972) – “Considering what the band was dealing with while making Volume 4 (pun intended), it’s a great album. There are two of my all time favorites on here: ‘Changes,’ because we all do [change], and so we all relate. And ‘Snowblind,’ where the thundering combo of Geezer riffing and Bill slamming the drums, is mind-numbingly good.”
6 Master of Reality (1971) – “There are some incredible acoustic sounds on this one. ‘Children of the Grave’ and ‘Sweet Leaf’ are just killer!”
7 Technical Ecstasy (1976) – “There is a different groove going on here. Like most bands of tenure, the time comes along where you try out another angle. ‘Dirty Women’ and ‘Rock and Roll Doctor’ were solid tunes that hit the mark in that style.”
8 Sabotage (1975) – “‘Hole in the Sky,’ ‘Symptom of the Universe,’ all those riffs and rhythms pounding away was like a full frontal assault. We know the band was up against a lot while making this album, but they still made a good one. There’s also a very cool instrumental, ‘Don’t Start (Too Late.)’”
9 Never Say Die! (1978) – “We all agree with that title, don’t we! I still love this record. With all its twists and turns, there is still a resounding Sabbath feel throughout. Some of what the band was raised on, like the blues, makes its way in here and there.”
“So, there you go,” Halford says. “I would just like to close with a mighty shout-out of honest love and thanks and appreciation to my friends Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill. There will never ever be another band as big and as import and influential as Black Sabbath!”