Rolling Stone (9/19/02, p.110) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...These are the years that made Ozzy into the loveable flake you now see."
Q (11/02, p.122) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...This is the sound of four bombed Brummies playing the heaviest rock of the '70s and heading for implosion..."
Black Sabbath: Ozzy Osbourne (vocals); Tony Iommi (guitar); Geezer Butler (bass); Bill Ward (drums).
Principally recorded live in Manchester and London, England in 1973. Includes liner notes by Bruce Pilato.
Audio Remasterers: Matt Wortham; Andy Pearce.
Liner Note Author: Alexander Milas.
Recording information: The Rainbow, London (1973).
Photographers: Robert Ellis ; Richard Upper; Michael Putland; Ross Halfin; Jill Furmanovsky.
Hot on the heels of Ozzy Osbourne's rebirth as a pop culture icon comes PAST LIVES, Black Sabbath's first official Ozzy-era live recording. Initially released as an unauthorized 1980 recording called LIVE AT LAST, disc one takes the same material and considerably cleans up its fidelity. The album was recorded at a pair of 1973 UK shows in Manchester and London. Among the thunderous standards trotted out are "Sweet Leaf," "War Pigs," "Snowblind," and of course "Paranoid." Still decades away from the neurological damage caused by long-time drug and alcohol abuse, Ozzy is in fine fettle, incessantly declaring his love for the crowd when he's not exhorting them to clap.
Tony Iommi's tasty riffing is equally impressive while his range offers up some surprises, be it the jazz-inflected playing that finds him briefly transforming the Sabs into a swinging trio on "Wicked World" or the medieval-flavored chords sprinkled into the intro of the classic "Children Of The Grave." Disc 2 is a bit spottier as it draws from various locations and dates during the '70s for Sab nuggets like "N.I.B.," "Fairies Wear Boots," and "Iron Man." Die-hards will bask in the greatness of the oft-bootlegged "Megalomania" and a chilling reading of "Black Sabbath."
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