Song Of The Day - 13 Nov 2008: Heaven and Hell (AotY 1980)


1 Dic 2008, 2:55

Black Sabbath / Heaven and Hell / Heaven and Hell (4) / Apr 1980

sablespecter's Album of the Year for 1980* (RDF: 100%)

Just as Sabbath's first album scored a perfect 100%, the first one with Ronnie James Dio does the same! It's amazing to me that this album was able to come together at all, let alone becoming one of the greatest albums of the entire Sabbath catalog and in all of . After the firing of Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler's divorce, and Bill Ward being so heavily inebriated that he doesn't even recall the recording of the album, it was a first test of the iron will of Tony Iommi that held it together, a will that would keep hloding it together during the unsteady 80s (for better and often for worse). Geoff Nicholls also makes his first appearance, and has been with them ever since.

This particular track is Dio's all-time favorite composition from any era, solo or from and any band that he has been in. I think it nicely sums up his outlook on life generally, and you can see one or more elements of this song in almost any song that he has written (even if you look between all the fantasy imagery of his solo work). Of course, best heard live, when it gets stretched out with solos etc. and even spliced with other songs, as done nicely on Live Evil.

And yet, not my favorite track from the album, which will be revealed some other time.

Rounding out the Top Five of 1980 (in order of descending RDF):

Def Leppard: On Through the Night (100% RDF): Two 100% RDF albums in a single year? Sure! Must have been a common occurrence during the 80s, right? Nope. Did it ever happen again? Maybe (stay tuned)! My third album from the Lepps, only picked up after I bought the next two in early '83, which was probably pretty common at least here in the States. I can't explain why I like every track on this album. Partly because it's a variety of styles, and perhaps partly because of the warm production of Colonel Tom. And definitely because of the playing of Pete Willis. It doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves, possibly because the band have practically disowned it. Why? They need to rediscover some of this formula.

Iron Maiden: Iron Maiden (89% RDF - calculated from the nine-track U.S. release): Also a third album to enter my collection, purchased after the next two. I had no idea who they were when this was released. Did anybody? Certainly no one stateside. Yet it's one of the greatest debuts ever. Not entirely pure metal - too much punk attitude and dirty riffs à la Motörhead to be just that. And yet they set themselves apart from other punk-influenced NWOBHM brethren with a couple of the most arresting, melodic, polished departures from expectations that you could find on an album like this with "Remember Tomorrow" and "Strange World" (the latter still one of my all-time Maiden favorites). Establishes from the start that the future will be interesting, deep, and exciting.

Van Halen: Women and Children First (87.5% RDF): More back-to-basic raw sound of the debut album, less pop that the second, and the reason why I like so much of this. It ain't all a big party; there's a dark side to this life. Well, the 70s are over...welcome to the 80s.

AC/DC: Back in Black (80% RDF): Probably considered the "Album of 1980" at least in the heavy metal circle. And the #2 to MJ's Thriller. Despite the fact that I can't listen to Track Number Seven now after so much overplay, it is a damn good album and features three of my Top 5 AC/DC tracks ("Shoot To Thrill," "Let Me Put My Love into You," "Have A Drink On Me"). I wonder how far they would have gotten with Brian Johnson had this not been as successful as it turned out to be. I'm glad it did, because I'm one of the minority (?) that prefers the Johnson-era songs over the Bon Scott-era songs.

Honorable Mentions (in not-entirely-correct alphabetical order by band/artist name):
Angel Witch: Angel Witch
Blue Öyster Cult: Cultösaurus Erectus
Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
Diamond Head: Lightning to the Nations
Journey: Departure
Judas Priest: British Steel
Krokus: Metal Rendez-Vous
Michael Stanley Band: Heartland
Motörhead: Ace of Spades
Ozzy Osbourne: Blizzard of Ozz
Rush: Permanent Waves
Saxon: Wheels Of Steel and Strong Arm Of The Law
Scorpions: Animal Magnetism
The Alan Parsons Project: The Turn Of A Friendly Card
The Pretenders: The Pretenders
Whitesnake: Ready An' Willing

Is your favorite album from 1980 on this list? Are there any others you would add?

\m/ (ò_ó) \m/

*So if y'all have been wondering where I went for the past 2+ weeks...sorry - especially those of you that may be frustrated when I do that since I used to be so damn timely - but by now you should know that when I vanish I'm usually up to something. And then you might have remembered, oh yeah, he said he was going to post the AotY Awards for the 1980s sometime in November.

The Eighties! Holy crap, covering this decade is difficult. Not because it's hard to announce the ten AotY Awards from this decade, but because (as usual) I just can't keep it simple and stop there. I have to do things the hard way and cover the all the other favorites from each year, too! Lookit at that many good albums in the 80s! I could easily expand to a Top 10 for each year, but that's even farther than I want to go, since this should really be about the personal top selection for each year, and the rest just for context. But keep on reading...all of these will eventually be covered in more detail in their own right...someday!
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Black Sabbath


  • BlackSabbath86

    Geoff Nicholls hasn't been with Black Sabbath since 2004. =)

    4 Dic 2008, 19:11
  • sablespecter

    Yeah, if I had thought about it a little more carefully, I guess I wouldn't have wrote it that way. I know he didn't tour with them but wondered if he was doing the work on the new H&H album. But that's obviously can't be the case since he's helping Tony Martin do [i]his[/i] new album. Eh...

    7 Dic 2008, 7:30
  • GrantRS

    Hang on. What was that? Am I mistaken or does Women and Children First ranks as your third favourite Van Halen album? It would seem we disagree a little here as I would put it at the bottom of the Roth-era VH releases. Fools through to Loss of Control are kind of shaky in my opinion, while I enjoy the whole album I've come to expect/demand better of Van Roth. If you want to compare hierarchies of favourite Van Roth albums my list goes: Fair Warning 1984 II I Diver Down Women and Children First I am aware that my placing of VHI in fourth is unusual, but the three above it I'd place in my equivalent of the 100% RDF - or in fact infra-red dots on every track. I think I agree with placing Heaven and Hell above Maiden's debut, and having Back in Black in close contention. I won't comment on the Leppard one til I've heard it, (which I promise I will one day). However, Lightning to the Nations should be higher. I'm thinking either first or second on the list, I can't decide between Diamond Head and Sabbath here...will probably go with Sabbath, I suppose but it's a close run contest. British Steel, surely, must have only just scraped into the honourable mentions. (IMO) It's such a drop down from the previous string of Priest albums. Otherwise, I either agree or abstain from comment.

    27 Abr 2009, 17:36
  • sablespecter

    Well, WACF ranks third in terms of RDF, but once again, don't automatically draw a conclusion that that means it's my third-favorite. (For the benefit of other dear readers, I and 1984 are #1 and #2, and both score 100% RDF). Actually, though, my third favorite would in fact be [i]Fair Warning[/i] with a 77.7% RDF. It just happened to be an unfortunate victim of a strong year in 1981 and finished just behind Fire of Unknown Origin. That's seven dotted songs, with a number of infrared tracks. Now look at WACF: that also finished with 7 dotted tracks. When you factor against 8 total (ignoring Tora! Tora! due to length per the RDF calculation) that works out to 87.5% and it finished favorably in 1980, but those tracks don't compare with my favs on FW. "Fools through to Loss of Control are kind of shaky..." Agree on a couple of those, but Romeo Delight?? That's sablespecter's delight! It's my favorite song on the album and one of those (ahem) mammoth tracks that define all the right pieces of VH doing all the right things. Let's look in comparison to II, which scores a 70%. That was actually good enough to tie with Bomber and Highway to Hell in 1979, but it can't top either of those. That's also 7 dotted tracks, and in comparison with WACF, each offer four that I really like. II offers a solid side in total (side 2), but there's just something about WACF that appeals to me more. It's a darker, tougher sounding album than the poppier II, and it's like a twin to Fair Warning in that regard. So I give WACF the edge, and it wins if I put my favorite track from it up against my favorite from II, Light Up the Sky. Finally, there's absolutely no way I would put that album after [i]Diver Down[/i]. It's not because so much of that album is covers. I just don't really like it. About the only track I like on that is "Dancing in the Streets," but that's only because of that great guitar lead-in. It only gets a half-dot and I don't even have it in the collection because I'm so sick of hearing that song over the years on rock radio. So that leaves my ranking like this: I 1984 Fair Warning WACF II Diver Down [i]Lightning to the Nations[/i] is a 100% RDF. But it's only - literally - entered my collection within the past month. It's not that I didn't know of it nor care, it's just that I didn't have ahold of it or know all of the songs on it. And even now, I don't actually have the album. What I finally got was Am I Evil? The Anthology, which includes all but one of the tracks. That two-disc compliation had been on my want list for several years, but I only found it after its original run went out of print here and you had to pay like 50 bucks to get it. my extreme delight, Castle just released it again at the end of April, and as soon as I saw it out there again I snatched it. I'll save my comments on it for an upcoming SotD I have on the slate, but suffice it to say that had it been in my collection for as long as the others, it would probably rank third behind the other two 100% RDF albums. Perhaps second, but the Def Leppard album offers 10 to LTTN's 7. I'm not into revisionism with these AotY Awards, but at least it is now here for the record. And interesting to note that this would make 1980 the only year with three 100% RDF albums (at least so far...) [i]British Steel[/i] gets in there at 55.5% (five dotted tracks). "United" is NOT one of them. My guess, then, is that you would not be so excited by the fact that JP is playing the entire album on tour this year!

    1 Jun 2009, 7:11
  • GrantRS

    You don't like [track aritst=van halen]little guitars[/track] or Cathedral? I don't know about Romeo's okay but I guess either I haven't listened enough times or it's just not my personal taste. I guess the explanation you gave is largely satisfactory though, it's we're only a couple of tracks different I suppose it's just so solid that one or two tracks difference makes a big difference, particularly when thinking with regards to RDF. The current re-issue of Lightning to the Nations has 7 bonus tracks. All the singles (including b-sides) from the initial unsigned era of Diamond Head. The second album Borrowed Time is regarded as being their only other decent album, though it has a couple of tracks from the first album re-recorded purely for the major label release. The third album, Canterbury, is the sound of a band manipulated by a record label into producing marketable songs. The 'comeback' album Death & Progress is basically a sham with only two of the original members, none of the individuality that marked out their first album, lacklustre songs and pity guest appearances by Iommi and Mustaine. So, that's what I think of the albums used to create that Anthology...haha! The two albums from the 00s have less right to be called Diamond Head than Seventh Star had to be called a Black Sabbath album - just one original member and taking a completely different musical direction. I didn't know JP were touring with the whole of British Steel. I saw them in Feb when they were playing a sensible set list. To be fair, the songs from that album that they did play were much better live than in the studio. I don't know if they're even touring near me with the British Steel centric setlist, but that decision could well put me off paying the ticket price, yes.

    1 Jun 2009, 9:57
  • sablespecter

    Nah, really don't like [i]Diver Down[/i]. It's just gotta be a matter of taste the way "Romeo's Delight" doesn't meet yours, you know? But yes, just one or two tracks can make or break an album in terms of AotY placement and RDF, which is why I do try and leave some subjective wiggle room. I did know in advance about the "progression" of Diamond Head away from what made them a powerful force on the debut. The liner notes tell the tale of the label interference and change in the lineup, and it is interesting to actually hear the progression as you listen to the two discs. I ripped every single track off the first disc, but only managed to enjoy maybe half of the second (and that's being generous). I'm sure that's probably one reason why you don't care for comps, but I'm not disappointed in it at all. I enjoy that kind of instructive experience and their total worthy catalog is so small that you get most everything of what's required on it. Still, having also seen that remaster of the LTTN with the unsigned era tracks when I bought this, that's on the list. The I figure I'll have everything covered. Synchronicity again: funny you should mention [i]Seventh Star[/i]! Man, that's amazing, because I just finally bought that on CD to supplant my vinyl copy when I was last at the shops less than two weeks ago. It was just one of two I bought, the other being Headhunter (another I have to this point only had on vinyl). I can still remember walking up to the record store in the cold when SS first came out, bringing it home, and being a bit bewildered by it on first listen. ("This is a Sabbath record?") I really rather like it though, and plan to cover THAT TOO in a soon SotD selection. Just goes to show that even when I'm offline, we're still somehow on the same brain-link. Yes, JP is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of [i]British Steel[/i] on this tour, and in fact, calling it the "British Steel 30th Anniversary Tour" but maybe that's only here Stateside. But they'll still do lots of other songs, too, and I'm looking forward to it after how good they were when I saw them last summer. Our date is one of the shows that Whitesnake are opening for them, too.

    2 Jun 2009, 4:31
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