For about the last year, I’ve been promising myself if I ever come across a cheap CD copy of Black Sabbath Volume IV, I’m going to treat myself to it – after all, it was my favorite Sabs album when I was a kid (and still is). The problem is: there seems to be no such thing as a cheap copy of Black Sabbath Vol. 4. At least in my neighborhood.
Of course, I’m exaggerating, but the fact is, you can get any one of the original studio albums new for less than $10 in practically any music retail outlet, and there’s always multiple copies. Maybe I’m just unlucky, but Vol 4 is never in stock. The helpful sales clerk is always willing to order me a copy, but that lists for closer to $20.
What about used or eBay or Amazon, you ask? Yep, I can get it at those places no problem, but it’s turned into a game now, and the game’s not over until I get a brand new copy in a retail store for about ten bucks give or take. And I’ve got my vinyl until then.
Another overlong lead in to a review, but this is the point: most of the sales clerks tell me it’s probably because it wasn’t that popular, that it stays in the catalog only because of Sabbath’s other releases, which are big sellers. If that’s true, it puzzles me. Now, compared to a major work like Paranoid, Vol 4 is a more tightly focused album, with a thicker sound and better writing. It’s certainly in the same vein as the rest of the classics. Not as studio crafted as Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Hole in the Sky, not as spontaneous as the self-titled first album or Paranoid or Master of Reality, but a perfect balance of all that’s essential about Black Sabbath.
On Vol 4 Tony Iommi comes up with some great riffs that lay the bedrock fo some of the band’s strongest songs – “Supernaut,” “Wheels of Confusion,” “Under the Sun,” and of course, the Sabbath tour de force, “Snowblind.” Add Ozzy’s one of a kind vocal delivery, the Ward/Butler dinosaur thump rhythm section, and the general gloom and doom murk that we’ve all grown to know and love so well and voila! classic rock ready for you to spin on your turntable (or mp3 player… although that doesn’t spin, does it?).
So if it’s true that this is a poor seller, then there’s a whole lotta Sabbath fans that are missing out on one of the band’s finest moments. On the other hand, maybe the reason I can’t find it is because it such a huge seller that it’s never in stock, and it’s never on sale because the powers that run to industry know people will pay for it, on sale or not. or maybe it’s the generic title.
Or maybe it’s because it’s the only album with just a picture of Ozzy on the front cover – I mean, where’s the rest of the band? Maybe off somewhere plotting to can Ozzy so they can spend the rest of their careers doing reunion tours. Hmmm… Heaven and Hell tour… new Ozzy album……. hey, where’s the original studio albums remastered CD reissues with bonus tracks? Maybe the Sabs ouggta get ahold of the Doors and get some pointers on how to sell an album all over again, and maybe this time people will pick up a copy of Vol 4 to go along the rest of the Sabbath collection.