If you were banging your head when we started this week with a #MetalMonday tribute to the career of Ronnie James Dio, then you’re going love the way we’re wrapping up the end of the week.
Read More: MetalMonday: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio
Since today marks the release of Rhino’s new deluxe editions of the first two Black Sabbath albums with Dio fronting the band (1980’s Heaven & Hell and 1981’s Mob Rules), we’re taking a look back at those very LPs and shining a spotlight on five tracks from each one that absolutely, positively deserve a listen.
(This, of course, is in addition to all of the other tracks, which also deserve a listen BECAUSE IT’S BLACK FREAKING SABBATH.)
Heaven & Hell
It might be the first song on the album, but it was the last one written for the record, and one suspects that it might be because the band knew that the first thing listeners heard from a Dio-fronted Black Sabbath was going to be the song they used to judge whether or not to keep listening. Most would agree that it did the trick in spades.
“Children of the Sea”
This song stands out in particular because it was the first collaboration between Dio and the rest of the band, with Dio writing the lyrics before he was even aware that Ozzy was out of the lineup. In the Decibel book Precious Metal, Adem Tepelden interviewed Dio, who told the story:
I met them at the house that they were using to rehearse in and purely went to say hello and get to know them. I had no thoughts whatsoever of being in the band. As far as I knew, Ozzy was still in the band. During the conversation, Tony asked me if I'd like to see the studio they were doing their things in. He, Geezer and Bill picked up their instruments and started to play [what became] 'Children of the Sea' and I liked it very much. Tony asked me if I could do anything with it. I said, 'Give me a few minutes, I think I can knock something out.' We pretty well wrote the song that quickly.
“Heaven & Hell”
A tune which Dio once said was about how each person has heaven and hell inside themselves, it was one of his personal favorites from his stint with Sabbath and the song that Tony Iommi has called the defining track from the Dio era. But you probably already figured that, since its title is what the lineup called themselves when they needed to differentiate themselves from the Ozzy incarnation of Sabbath.
Anyone looking to call out heavy metal music as misogynistic wouldn’t need to look any farther than this song, but Dio also wasn’t a Satanist, so it turns out that he was pretty good at pretending to believe things in his lyrics that he didn’t actually believe. Go figure!
Often cited as a song on the album that would’ve been hard to imagine Black Sabbath recording during the Ozzy era, it’s got a title that’s a little depressing when you consider that Dio would probably still be rocking right now if it hadn’t been for the cancer that took him down. It sure is a great song, though.
“Turn Up the Night”
Released as the album’s second single, it’s clear that it was intended to do as strong a job of drawing listeners into the album as “Neon Knights” did for Heaven & Hell. If it didn’t do precisely as well, it sure came close.
You can’t call a Sabbath song a classic if it doesn’t have a great Tony Iommi guitar riff, which is to say that this track is safe on that front.
“Sign of the Southern Cross”
In the concert film Neon Knights, Geezer Butler called out this tune as his favorite on the album, explaining, “It gave me a chance to experiment with some bass effect.” We’d say the experiment was a success.
“The Mob Rules”
Both the title track and the album’s first single, this was the first song recorded by Sabbath after the Heaven & Hell album and can also be found on the soundtrack to the animated film Heavy Metal...because, honestly, can you even give a film that title and not include a Black Sabbath song? We think not.
“Falling Off the Edge of the World”
In his review of the album for AllMusic.com, Eduardo Rivadavia described this track as not just the best song on side two of the album but, in fact, “perhaps the most overlooked secret gem to come from the Dio lineup.” You be the judge.