To tell you the truth, at one time or another I loved each of these as much as Master of Reality or Volume 4. Yup, even Born Again!
First up is the UK Vertigo pressing of Technical Ecstasy.
Probably one of the more hated Sabbath albums, I think there are some seriously great songs on here. Dirty Women, Gypsy and Back Street Kids rule. Plus, you want bad Sabbath albums, check out Tyr, Forbidden or the craptastic Seventh Star. Sorry Mike. It's not so good.
Vertigo had switched their labels to these Roger Dean "UFO" ones. That's the guy who did all the artwork for those trippy Yes albums. The swirl image is still there but now neatly positioned above the name at the bottom.
The album came with a two sided color lyric sheet insert instead of a printed inner sleeve. Thank gawd for that.
This was Ozzy's last album with the band until the live Reunion cd and then the awesome 13 lp from last year. I really like this record and find myself humming the opening riff to Air Dance often. The cover on this Vertigo UK press is really different from the Warner Brothers one. The sky is blue here, not grey and you can see images of pilots in the clouds that they blurred out on the North American version. I have no idea why.
The same labels were used for Never Say Die! as Technical Ecstasy.
This one came with a printed inner sleeve but at least it is as thick as the cover so there are no split seams. Still, it didn't stop me from replacing it with a proper ploy lined sleeve. A man's got to have standards.
The next one up on the list is Heaven and Hell.
This was the first album with Ronnie James Dio on vocals and damn, did he ever help kick the band in the ass. This is one of the best albums of the 1980's if not ever. Sabbath got really heavy with this one. Pure metal. Maybe they should have changed the name of the band as they sound nothing like they did before, but by this point who cares?
With the change in vocalists sound and style, I guess it is appropriate that Vertigo changed direction with the labels around this time as well. They went with these orange/yellow ones that I think look really cool. I like that the swirl is sticking around the bottom of the design as well.
The next album up is Mob Rules.
The same orange/yellow labels were used as Heaven and Hell.
Next up is my person favourite live album of all time, Live Evil.
I read that Dio hated this album as he suspected that he was turned down in the mix by Geezer and Tony during some studio after-hour shenanigans. Whatever, I can hear him just fine. The Heaven and Hell/Sign Of The Southern Cross/Heaven and Hell/Paranoid/Heaven and Hell medley is simply amazing. The Iommi solo jammed in there is mind blowing.
This was released as a double album with the same labels as the other two Dio releases.
The record comes in a nice gatefold that pissed Ronnie off to no end as there were only two pictures of him and one of Vinnie Appice. For a small dude - big ego.
The inner sleeves contained this very important message about music piracy. Wow, if they only fucking knew what was coming!
Finally we have the red headed step child of the bunch, Born Again.
Back in 1983, I ate this album up. I loved everything metal and it didn't get much heavier than this. Decades later people have really gained an appreciation for the record with doom metal back in vogue. Vocals were handed over to former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan. The man could scream, I will give him that. Come on who doesn't love Zero the Hero? The sound is muddy and the album poorly produced but I think that just adds to the dark vibe.
The UK pressing featured Vertigo custom labels for the first time in the band's history. I freaking love them! The labels are pretty much the reason I decided to add this to the collection. I knew my cut off was coming really soon with Seventh Star and The Eternal Idol just over the horizon.
Born Again comes with a printed inner sleeve unfortunately, but at least this one comes with no split seams. As anyone with the North American Warner Brothers version can attest, this one has a lot of yellow. I mean a lot of yellow. The WB version is red lettering on white.
Well, that does it for my Vertigo Records UK Sabbath collection. I was thinking of posting Live At Last and We Sold Our Soul For Rock and Roll, but those were originally released on NEMS Records. Yeah, I bought those too. Funny to be spending so much time and money on records I have owned since I was 8 years old!