In What Have You Done For Us Lately? we examine the recent output by legendary artists. Yeah, we’re happy when they return with a new album… but really, just how happy are we? We’ll gauge their recent output since (in this case, the highlights of Black Sabbath‘s career since reuniting with Ozzy Osbourne in 1997), take a hard look and see how their recent material has held up… and maybe help you to find a few gems that you overlooked. Upon the release of Sabbath’s first album with Ozzy in three decades, “13,” let’s have a look at how the members’ recent outputs have held up to the group’s considerable legacy. 

What has Black Sabbath done for you lately? They don’t have to do anything: anytime you hear a loud, scary metal band playing at skull crushing volume, that’s Sabbath’s influence. A list of bands they’ve influenced would be longer than this article. They’re more than simply one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time — they’re ground zero for heavy metal. All that said, over the years, guitarist/leader Tony Iommi’s determination to keep the band alive nearly drove their reputation into the grave. After Ozzy was thrown out of the band in 1979 (going on, of course, to eclipse his band’s popularity — though not influence — with his solo career), they had a great “act two” with singer Ronnie James Dio. And after he quit, they had a pretty good, albeit short, “act three” with former/future Deep Purple screamer Ian Gillian at the helm. From there, it went a bit “pear shaped,” at the Brits are wont to say, with a number of singers, drummers and bassists cycling through the group.

After a few stillborn attempts at reuniting with Ozzy, the band got back together for the Ozzfest tour in 1997. Foreshadowing the interpersonal problems that would plague them in the years to come, drummer Bill Ward wasn’t included on the tour; Faith No More’s Mike Bordin (Ozzy’s drummer at that time) played for the band for the Ozzfest dates.

Reunion (1998)
Black Sabbath Reunion
In December 1997, Sabbath got it together and staged a full reunion — drummer Bill Ward included — for two hometown shows at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre. Were the shows technically perfect? No. Ozzy is a bit “pitchy,” and the band most likely fixed some things in the studio (which is almost always the case with live albums anyway). But when the four original Sabbath members perform together, the chemistry and power is undeniable. The album also featured two new studio tracks: “Psycho Man” and “Selling My Soul,” the latter of which featured a drum machine instead of Ward (and, in truth, neither song really held up to the band’s legacy). The live album came out in ’98, and the band once again headlined Ozzfest (this time with Ward) in ’99.


— Brian Ives, 


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