Available as expanded 4-CD and 4-LP sets featuring the original album remastered, plus a brand new mix of the full album, coming forty years on from when it first hit the shelves, it's a timely release, and a fitting celebration.
For a band that was in existence for more than a decade at the time of its release, 'Live Evil' was the Birmingham outfit's first official live album, and served as the bookend to the original Ronnie James Dio tenure. Coming at a controversial period in the band's existence, it was the final album to feature the singer until 1992's 'Dehumanizer', and the story goes that the fractious mixing of the album was what caused the band to split.
In the extensive liner notes that accompany the set in hardback book form, this isn't shied away from, with copious quotes from the main protagonists - Dio, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and to a lesser extent, drummer Vinnie Appice - about the rise and demise of what was, one of the greatest bands of the era.
All but written off following the departure of Osbourne in 1979, 'Heaven and Hell', released in 1980, was a remarkable turnaround for a band that looked to be limping to their demise. With 'Mob Rules' following a year later, the four-piece proved that this was no fluke, and 'Live Evil' captures the band on the tour for that album.
If you're familiar with the set, then you'll know what to expect. What's relatively strange on reappraisal however, is how heavily-laden the album is with Ozzy-era cuts at the front end, given how when the band reconvened in the 2000s as Heaven & Hell, they dropped this material completely.
Of course, this was still Black Sabbath, and in 1982 (when this album was recorded, across various dates on the US leg of the 'Mob Rules' tour), people expected to hear 'Iron Man', 'War Pigs', and the like in the set. Hearing Dio tackle these songs which are intrinsically linked to Osbourne, it's difficult not to compare and contrast, and where Ozzy's unique tone is missed, Dio's technique as a singer is simply unmatchable.
The Dio-era material meanwhile, is where the band really come alive, particularly on opener 'Neon Knights', and the extended 'Heaven and Hell' (perhaps the defining version of the song). The truncated 'Sign of the Southern Cross' however, just leaves you craving the full song.
It's the new remix that will interest most, and it does not disappoint. Right from the off, Butler's rumbling bass sounds thicker, Dio's voice has more clarity and is more rounded in the overall mix, and Iommi's guitars sparkle, particularly in his solos (his solo in 'Heaven and Hell' has been extended too to include, presumably, the whole performance).
It's fair to say that the album has never sounded better, with 'Children of the Sea', in particular, even rivalling the studio recording. As a bonus, there's more of Ronnie's between song banter, which really puts the listener right there in the concert hall.
As a package, there's hours of entertainment here. As well as the aforementioned hardback book which covers the entire Dio era (compensating for the studio albums reissues missing out on the super deluxe treatment), there's a reproduction of the 1982 tour programme, a poster, and (in the case of this version), a pair of gatefold sleeves to house the vinyl. It all comes in a sturdy box which faithfully plays with the iconic artwork, moving the logos around, across the various sleeves and extras.
A fascinating time capsule of a golden age for the band, and heavy music itself.
Black Sabbath's 'Live Evil' Super Deluxe is released on 2nd June 2023, but we've got a copy of the 4-CD set to give away. For your chance to win, answer the question correctly and fill out the form below. Competition closes at midnight on 7th June 2023 and is only open to entrants based in the U.K.