Album review: Black Sabbath, Past Lives (2002)



By Steve Newton

I like collecting guitar picks. Whenever I’m near the stage and some six-string legend tosses out one of those wee plastic nubs, I’ll do what it takes to nab it. My most highly prized catch is a plain orange Ronnie Montrose pick that I scored at the Commodore several years back. It’s particularly valuable to me because I grabbed it moments after Montrose had jammed with Steve Morse of Dixie Dregs fame. Holy dueling guitar heroes, Batman!

There are other ways to acquire plectrums with famous rock names on them, of course. One route is to purchase the limited-edition Digipak version of the new Black Sabbath CD, Past Lives. You’ll get a thin black pick with the metal pioneers’ name in silver on one side and a winged demon on the back. Then you can plug in your Gibson SG and pretend you’re Tony Iommi till your mom yells at you to TURN IT DOWN! Or, to really tick her off, you could crank up Past Lives, two discs’ worth of live performances from the band’s ’70s heyday.

The real brains behind Sabbath was not Ozzy Osbourne, obviously, but guitarist Iommi—he of the perpetual Crucifix necklace. Iommi shines throughout, particularly when he gets all jazzy on your ass during the extended solo on “Wicked World”. That 18-minute opus—hey, we’re talkin’ about the ’70s here!—also includes two minutes’ worth of my all-time fave Sabbath tune, Volume 4’s “Supernaut”. Oooooyeahh! That’s why they call him the Riffmaster.

Past Lives also comes with a 20-page booklet crammed with vintage photos of the band, and a black-and-white poster that would look mighty fine on your bedroom wall—at least until your mom rips it off in a fit of Ozzy-induced anger.

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