On September 28, 1978 "Black Sabbath" released their eighth studio album "Never Say Die!"
The album title and theme song - "Never Say Die!" Were very far from the reality that struck the band's faltering lineup. Despite the title, which ostensibly constitutes a statement of intent on the part of the band, this heroic lineup that was among the founders of the Heavy Metal genre and released a considerable number of masterpieces albums, has been dying out.
Shortly after the tour to promote the album, singer Ozzy Osbourne will be fired, and this album will go down in the history of music as the last album recorded by the band's original lineup.
What led to the dismal and why even though it is probably the band's weakest in the Ozzy era, it's still an underrated album? Stay with us and find out.
So, as already known, the first cracks in the cohesive lineup that formed the band, began to appear already on the band's fourth album "Vol. 4" which was released 6 years earlier.
These cracks deepened over the years, and the band members' drug and alcohol addictions only worsen the situation, to the point that work on the band's previous album - "Technical Ecstasy"(1976), was done almost solely by Tony Iommi, while the rest of the band spent most of the time on the Florida beaches and/or drowning in drugs and alcohol.
The severe drug and alcohol addiction gave its signals on all the band members, but the impact was particularly devastating for singer Ozzy Osbourne, who before recording the album simply left the band.
Determined to continue with the recordings, the band members decided to look for a new singer to replace Ozzy Osbourne. They chose singer Dave Walker who was known from various bands like "Savoy Brown" and "Fleetwood Mac". Walker received a phone call from Tony Iommi in November 1977, inviting him to join the band.
On his way from San Francisco to London, Walker wrote the lyrics to a song that would later become "Junior's Eyes." Walker even performed a first version of the song with "Black Sabbath" on the BBC's "Look Hear" program, as well as the song "War Pigs".
However, shortly after Walker's one and only appearance with "Black Sabbath" and about three months after his departure, Ozzy Osbourne decided to return to the band. Thus ended the short affair of "Black Sabbath" with Walker.
The song "Junior's Eyes" was eventually recorded for the album "Never Say Die!", But since Ozzy refused to use Walker's lyrics, Geezer Butler was forced to write new lyrics to the song. You can listen to Walker perform the song with "Black Sabbath" here:
It was not the only song from the album that Ozzy refused to sing. Walker was also involved in writing the final song from the album - "Swinging the Chain" and Ozzy simply refused to sing it, so under these circumstances, the one who sang it very successfully was drummer Bill Ward.
"Breakout", which was another song in which Walker was involved, also underwent a metamorphosis and became an instrumental track on the album, due to Ozzy's refusal to sing it.
Drummer Bill Ward said that this behavior of Ozzy and his refusal to sing songs in which Walker was involved in, forced the band to try to rewrite the materials during the mornings and record them at night without going over, correcting, improving and tightening them, which is why this album sounded the way it is.
Ozzy told his version of the event and noted that he returned directly to the studio, after three months in which he was out of the band. During this time he lost his father and was in a very difficult mental state and under the heavy influence of drugs and alcohol. He said he had insomnia so he would get up early in the morning and go to the studio as early as 7:00 AM to record, but the rest of the band members who were under the influence of drugs would get up late and arrive at the studio towards noon, by this time Ozzy was already deep in alcohol and drugs, not been able to record.
Despite that, there are quite a few gems on this album that make us wonder if this is the band's most underrated album?
The theme song "Never Say Die!" Is simply excellent. A great song which other bands have failed to write even in decades of career. "Junior's Eyes" is an amazing track and it's clear why the band insisted on leaving it on the album, despite Ozzy's opposition to singing it, even if it involved rewriting it's lyrics. "A Hard Road" with the slow boogie rhythm proves that despite all the difficulties, not only has the band not lost it but all its members without exception are able to transcend themselves and sing background vocals together here. And there's also the amazing "Air Dance" with the jazzy influences and shaky piano playing of keyboardist Don Airey and "Johnny Blade" with Airey's synthesizer intro and Bill Ward's rolling drumming, and more.
Despite the incoherence between the songs on the album, this album was relatively commercially successful. After the release of the album, "Black Sabbath" will go on a tour that will also mark 10 years since its inception. One of the tours of the "Hammersmith Odeon" on June 19, 1978, was even recorded on video and you can see for yourself that the band is still at its peak.
Despite this, Geezer Butler during the tour people would greet the band for another 10 years of fruitful music making and he would roll his eyes and think to himself that they would not last even a year.
Indeed, so it was. Immediately after the end of the tour, the band members will fly to Los Angeles in order to record their next album. Tony Iommi would describe the process as extremely frustrating. Ozzy Osbourne's addiction got worse and worse and his behavior became unbearable, so much so that it was clear to everyone that he could no longer serve as a member of the band ...
And so Ronnie James Dio's era in "Black Sabbath" began...