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|Live album by|
|Recorded||23–24 April, 12–13 May 1982 in Seattle, Dallas and San Antonio|
Warner Bros. (US/Canada)
|Producer||Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler|
|Black Sabbath live albums chronology|
|Ronnie James Dio chronology|
Live Evil is the first official live album by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. The previously released Live at Last (1980) was not sanctioned by the band. Live Evil peaked at number 37 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.
In early 1982 Black Sabbath's publishing deal with their previous management expired. By re-recording several songs from their earlier catalog and releasing them as a live album, all the songwriters stood to see a hefty profit from the publishing royalties. The Live Evil album was recorded on the Mob Rules tour. The sleeve states that the songs were recorded in Seattle, San Antonio and Dallas during the 1982 tour in support of the Mob Rules album, but doesn't give the venues or recording dates for the individual tracks. In his autobiography Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath, guitarist Tony Iommi recalls that the band's live show during this period featured "lots of pyro with fire and bombs" and that while playing the Hammersmith Odeon the bombs had been tested and "blew a two-foot-wide hole in the floor on my side. If I'd been there, I would have been blown up. Christ, it was dangerous." Iommi also admits that the band had to cancel a show at Madison Square Garden when the bombs blew out the tubes in all the amps during the first note of the first song "War Pigs". In the liner notes to the 2008 retrospective The Rules of Hell, vocalist Ronnie James Dio remembers, "It was an excellent tour. I think we were probably riding quite high on the Heaven and Hell success, and so we ended up playing really, really well. Even towards the end the shows were still great." However, tension had been building for some time between the band members, with Steffan Chirazi observing in 2008 that the story behind the creation of Live Evil is one of "quiet yet savagely visceral turmoil and a band collapsing under their weight of silence, unspoken accusation, and an unforgiving schedule."
Dio and drummer Vinny Appice abruptly left the group during the mixing of Live Evil, with the two factions providing vastly different accounts of how things fell apart. "Ronnie had started to take over a little bit too much and was becoming a bit of a Hitler," Iommi explained to Steve Gett of Guitar for the Practicing Musician. "We were working on the Live Evil record in Los Angeles, and in fact we nicknamed him 'Little Hitler.'" In 2011, Iommi was less harsh in his memoir: "By then Ronnie did come over a little more...I suppose, bossy. The way he conducted himself, the way he talked, it might have given that impression to the outside world, but he usually didn't mean anything by it. Ronnie was just very outspoken." Iommi also contends that he and bassist Geezer Butler were unhappy that Dio was already rehearsing with his own band for a solo album that Warner Brothers had offered him.
Dio's account attributed the breakup to a misunderstanding arising as the result of Iommi's drug abuse. Dio has stated that while he and Appice were not interested in drugs, Iommi and Butler were using cocaine very heavily at that time. When Dio and Appice arrived at the studio to begin the Live Evil mixing process, Iommi and Butler never showed up. While waiting for their bandmates at the studio over a period of several days, Dio and Appice passed the time by listening to the recordings and frequently experimented with the mix by asking the engineer to adjust the levels of various parts. No mixing had commenced, and the tracks were merely being listened to. When Iommi arrived days later, he asked the engineer what Dio had been doing in his absence and was told that he had frequently requested that the vocals be brought up higher in the mix. Iommi, in his drug-addled state, misunderstood what he was being told and came to the conclusion that Dio was not only mixing the album without him, but was trying to push his own vocals much too prominently in the mix. Iommi, a founding member of the band, reckoned he had a power struggle on his hands and he wasn't about to relinquish creative control of Black Sabbath. Dio steadfastly denied that he altered the mix and accused Iommi and Butler of fabricating the story. Iommi later laid the blame on the engineer. On the Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven and Hell DVD, both Dio and Appice claim the mixing sessions were scheduled to start in the early afternoon but, on the third day, Iommi and Butler didn't show up until much later. This exacerbated the rift between the new and original members until the singer was asked to leave. In the same interview series, Butler described the Live Evil mixing sessions as "the Yanks against the Brits," adding, "I think Ronnie seemed to desperately want to do his own stuff and we sort of wanted to keep it going as it was." In the liner notes for to The Rules of Hell, Appice states, "I knew things were coming to a close from some of the things that were happening on the road. Ronnie and I would ride in one car, Geezer and Tony in another car, and everybody was breaking away from each other a little bit."
Of the oddly distant crowd sound, Iommi remarked: "We forgot about the audience!" In the same interview, asked to choose "a track that the engineer didn't cock up", he said: "I liked 'Heaven and Hell' flowing into 'Sign of the Southern Cross'. It had its moments, that one."
Iommi has said that the decision to release Live Evil was prompted by two factors. The first was the 1980 release of the unsanctioned Live at Last album, and the second was former lead vocalist Ozzy Osbourne's 1982 release of a live album consisting entirely of Black Sabbath songs. In his autobiography, Iommi confesses that he was "unpleasantly surprised" that Osbourne had included only Sabbath songs and speculates "I think putting out the live album like that was down to Sharon (Osbourne, Ozzy's wife and manager), trying to put the cat among the pigeons." At the time, Sharon was severely at odds with her father Don Arden, who was managing Sabbath and was attempting to steer Osbourne away from his deal with Arden's label Jet and on to a new deal with Jet's distribution company CBS. "We had to give the old man two albums, well, a live album counted as two," she is quoted as saying in Mick Wall's 2013 biography on the band. "I knew he'd go for it because it wouldn't cost anything to make...But Don was expecting something with Randy (Rhoads) on it and I just thought fuck that. I'm not giving him that. He can have something with a load of old Sabbath shit on it."
Live Evil hit both the UK Top 30 and the US Top 40 Album charts. AllMusic states that "Live Evil does benefit from a crystal clear, in-your-face sound, and by showcasing even amounts of both Ozzy and Dio material, effectively documents Black Sabbath's renascent tours of the early '80s. Ronnie certainly has the vocal chops, if not the same everyman charm, to handle the Osbourne classics, but his incessant banter between (and during!) songs sometimes verges on the unbearable." The album is included in the Black Sabbath box set The Rules of Hell. The Live Evil album cover features literal interpretations of Sabbath songs.
|1.||"E5150" (Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler)||2:21|
|2.||"Neon Knights" (Dio, Iommi, Butler, Bill Ward)||4:36|
|3.||"N.I.B." (Ozzy Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward)||5:09|
|4.||"Children of the Sea" (Dio, Iommi, Butler, Ward)||6:05|
|5.||"Voodoo" (Dio, Butler, Iommi)||6:07|
|6.||"Black Sabbath" (Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward)||8:39|
|7.||"War Pigs" (Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward)||9:19|
|8.||"Iron Man" (Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward)||7:29|
|9.||"The Mob Rules" (Dio, Iommi, Butler)||4:10|
|10.||"Heaven and Hell" (Dio, Iommi, Butler, Ward)||12:04|
|11.||"The Sign of the Southern Cross/Heaven and Hell (Continued)" (Dio, Butler, Iommi/Dio, Iommi, Butler, Ward)||7:15|
|12.||"Paranoid" (Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward)||3:46|
|13.||"Children of the Grave" (Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward)||5:25|
|14.||"Fluff" (Butler, Iommi, Osbourne, Ward)||0:59|
Neither Appice nor Nicholls are given full credits, instead being listed under "Special Thanks".
|United States||December 1982||Warner Bros. Records|
|Canada||1982||Warner Bros. Records|
|United Kingdom||18 January 1983||Vertigo Records|
|South Korea||1986||Vertigo Records|
|United Kingdom||1996||Castle Communications|
|United Kingdom||2004||Sanctuary Records|
|United States||October 2008||Rhino Records|