The Black Sabbath Vinyl Collection, A Heavy Metal Trophy Worth Every Cent

One of the heaviest bands in rock and roll history deserves a weighty tribute, and The Black Sabbath Vinyl Collection 1970-1978 delivers in every respect.

A massive box set stuffed with nine LPs, a 7-inch and assorted goodies, this beauty from Rhino Records collects Sabbath’s first eight Warner Bros. studio albums, up to the point when Ozzy was fired, and that includes some of the most influential music ever released.

We’re talking Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), Master Of Reality (1971), Vol. 4 (1972), Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973), Sabotage (1975), Technical Ecstasy (1976) and Never Say Die! (1978).

Limited to 3,000 copies, the set retails for $249.98.

Maybe that seems like a lot of money but consider this: An original Warner Bros. pressing of Black Sabbath, in as-new condition, will set you back around $200. That only leaves seven more albums to go on a budget of $50. The math is not in your favor.

The Black Sabbath Vinyl Collection Box Set

As is Rhino’s habit, the aesthetics and quality of the set range from very good to outstanding.

Rhino's The Black Sabbath Vinyl Collection 1970-1978 boxset

The extras are highlighted by a new compilation called Monomania, which collects eight Sabbath songs in mono, including “Evil Woman” and radio edits of “Iron Man,” “Into the Void” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” Do yourself a favor and imagine a day when “Iron Man” was played on Top 40 radio, followed by the Temptations, John Lennon and Aretha Franklin. That’s a well-rounded education.

The 7-inch is a Warner Bros. version of the band’s first UK single, “Evil Woman” b/w “Wicked World,” which wasn’t released in the US. True metal nerds will also love the four lavish reproductions of tour programs, including one from 1978’s 10th-anniversary tour that has a page dedicated to Van Halen, the newcomers opening the shows.

The LPs are the same versions released individually by Rhino in 2016. The worst thing about them is that the jackets are merely good; they’re heavy stock, which is nice, but the scans are a bit blurry and Master of Reality doesn’t have the embossed cover. All of the LPs were very quiet and only one, Technical Ecstasy, had a mild warp.

Sound Compared To Original Pressings

Sean Magee, of Abbey Road Studios fame and the mastering engineer behind the acclaimed Beatles mono reissues, cut the lacquers from high-resolution digital files.

Don’t get your analog panties in a bunch. The vast majority of records are made with a digital link in the chain and have been for decades. It all comes down to how well it’s done and Magee is very good; every record here has a heavy punch in the low end with terrific overall clarity and good dynamics.

The primary difference when compared to a couple of OG pressings is that the originals boast more separation of the instruments, and Bill Ward’s drums sound a bit more natural — you can more clearly feel the sticks hitting skin and the air in the room. That kind of detail is important to a lot of people, but given how hard it is to find early pressings of Sabbath records in NM condition, I’m good with Magee’s work.

It’s fair to wonder about the target customer for such a collection. Dedicated Sabbath fans likely have all or most of these albums and new fans may not be ready to drop $250. But we’re talking quality vinyl here, and very cool goodies — pure catnip to fetishists. This is the kind of collection you keep on a shelf, a heavy metal trophy worth every cent.

Produced in partnership with Rhino Entertainment.

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