Review Black Sabbath - Technical Ecstacy VS Never Say Die

album review

Contrarian1

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I'm a big Black Sabbath fan and love the original 8 Ozzy albums. Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die I feel are often over looked by general fans of Sabbath, and even Sabbath themselves in terms of their live set lists and compilation albums.
I don't know if this has been done in this style on this forum before but just for fun I'd like to review both Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die and tell which one I like more and why. I will go through each set list and give my thoughts feelings and opinions.

First of all I like both albums a lot. Second I am not a professional writer or music reviewer.

R-656073-1278913658.jpeg.jpg

First, I love the bizarre album cover, I can't tell if it's supposed to be two robots making love, or two robots trying to destroy each other. By the title I'm going with the former. Also I like how they look like two futuristic sky scrapers.

Track List:

1
Back Street Kids
3:49

Starts as a straight ahead rocker that has this bass line that automatically starts throbbing in my head as soon as I think of this song. Ozzy's voice sounds much lighter and higher pitched here than it did initially especially if you compare it to the first album like with the song "Warning". His voice actually sounded more weathered on the first album than it does here, he almost sounds younger here, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Ozzy's voice at times sounds even metallic, which might lend itself to the robotic theme of the album cover. Also love how the song just abruptly ends like "Hole in the Sky" from Sabotage.

2
You Won't Change Me
6:44

Here this song starts with a classic gloomy riff that could have come off Master of Reality. The lyrics harken back to Sabbath that I love with the theme of suffering and being conflicted. basically "Leave me alone, but I need you". I like the vulnerability in those types of lyrics, and vulnerability in my type of heroes. I've had relationships that ended where I said "F--- you I don't need you! But please come back I'm in pain". I just love this song. The solo from Iommi rips, and the keys are ominous and resemble something from a church hymn or funeral.

3
It's Alright
4:06

This song introduces us to the genius and versatility of Bill Ward. Anybody ever listen "Along the Way"? this is probably the first taste Bill got that started his path that lead to "Along the Way". As for the song itself, it's actually quite an enjoyable and catchy piano tune with Ward on vocals that surprises and sounds nothing like a Sabbath tune in a good way.

4
Gypsy
5:12

This song grabs me as soon as I hear the opening drums from Ward. It's kind of a twisted tale of getting the worst end of dealing with a type of mystical woman called a Gypsy and getting trapped in the web of an evil woman. The lyrics are just excellent and brooding and geezer does some fantastic stuff on this one.

5
All Moving Parts (Stand Still)
5:06

Another killer doomy riff and play on the theme of the evil parts of technology. It sounds like this song is written about a pending war between humanity and robots and that's just cool as sh--. Possibly my favorite song on the album. The best part is the cool guitar riff. When the song starts to break down it turns into a song about childhood rebellion and not fitting in. I can totally relate to that and can see the connection to mechanical objects starting to rebel on humans. Now I have no idea what this song was actually written about and it seems to have several themes going on, but that's how I perceive it.

6
Rock ’n’ Roll Doctor
3:35

Is kind of commercial in the sense that it is written like a traditional song (hook chorus verse), and in my opinion the weakest track on the album. It kind of doesn't feel like it belongs and actually sounds like something that should have been on Never Say Die. This one kind of shuffles along with it's cowbell and generic lyrics about feeling happy and feeling down.

7
She's Gone
4:57

She's Gone is a sleeper. It's a weird type of dark ballad that Sabbath seemed to invent and perfect. It's not a traditional power ballad at all in that is haunting rather than romantic, it acts as grandfather to and resembles future songs "goodbye to romance" and "Revelations Mother Earth" from Blizzard of Oz. I still don't know if this is about a woman leaving, disappearing, or being murdered. It's like a nightmare.

8
Dirty Women
7:10

This gets the most love from Sabbath as a staple in their live shows and it's well deserved. The song picks up and rocks out hard. This is more of a traditional Sabbath song and a strong finish to a strong album. This guitar riff is the easily the king of riffs on both albums and puts that jaggedness back in Ozzy's voice.

In all, I enjoyed the bits of keyboard that added a kind of sci-fi feel to the album in parts, to me, again, they fit in with the theme. Overall I love the subject matter. Sabbath was writing songs about heroin and cocaine addiction, who would have know that they could have predicted an equally at times awful addiction to technology! F--- ya I love Technical Ecstasy!


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I like this album cover a lot, like Technical Ecstasy it looks nothing like any other BS album. I get the impression that these pilots are on some kind of mission. It also looks very futuristic.

1
Never Say Die
3:49

NSD starts off the same way TE does, right out of the gate with a straight ahead rocker. Though this one reminds me of Rock N Roll Doctor, this commercial rocker (with some pop elements) works more for me than RNRD from TE does. This one is another one that sounds like it could be placed on an early Ozzy solo album.

2
Johnny Blade
6:28

NSD picks up steam as it rolls right into the next two tracks which are big winners for me. Johnny Blade is another song about rebellion not fitting into society. It plays like an opera and tells a fascinating story of bloke on the street fighting to survive, but also out of anger. The keys in this really do it for me overall. Non conformity and being a misfit is a continuing theme in Black Sabbath's output, and is something that can be relatable to everyone in one way or another.

3
Junior's Eyes
6:43

Junior's Eyes was originally written for Dave Walker who was supposed to replace Ozzy, but it didn't work out and Ozzy came back in the fold.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ITDbIvjegg

I would have LOVED to hear Never Say Die completed with Walker. Sabbath with walker sounds like a contemporary band, they would have been way ahead of their time if they stuck with the sound they had with Walker on Junior's Eyes. but it was not meant to be.
The song itself has a chugging riff and kind of a funky bass line that works together. One of the stronger songs on the album for sure. It's about a boy being abandoned by his father. It hints at isolationism and being alone in a rough world.


4
A Hard Road
6:05

The album keeps getting stronger track by track and Hard Road is no exception. This one sounds cheery despite singing about a "Hard Road". It has a catchy vibe to it and sticks out as one of the more memorable songs. I tend to get the feeling that Sabbath songs focus a lot on death and suffering, but this one has a message of community over coming. I can also picture about any soccer mom bobbing their head to it.

5
Shock Wave
5:15

NSD peaks with Shock Wave. Another Sabbath classic that harkens back to earlier albums like Sabotage and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. If this track was on either of those albums no one would think it was out of place. It just sounds like a fun rock track with the Sabbath spin of themes about a person being thrust into something they didn't choose. Also the lyrics are super heavy and dark, they sing about "drinking blood" "ghostly shadows" "Evil power", wow badass!

6
Air Dance
5:17

Air Dance is kind of mellow song that brings the pace of the album down a little bit. At times I think about smooth jazz while I listen to Air Dance, I feel like I'm shopping for furniture in The Sims. It's not necessarily a bad song, It feel a little misdirected overall.

7
Over To You
5:23

This one kind of sounds a little like Hard Road, almost like a sister song. The lyrics are excellent, and the music rocks along putting the album back on track after a little bit of a misstep with Air Dance. The more I listen to NSD the more its strikingly clear how clean Ozzy's voice has become compared to the grittiness of the earlier Sabbath efforts.

8
Break Out
2:35

Break Out starts out as a super heavy instrumental that gets lightened by the horn instruments. The Saxophone takes me out the Sabbath mood and feels like someone put the wrong song on the wrong album. Although its a cool little jam, its a massive departure and creates the feeling of disjointedness. This opening to Swinging the Chain reeks of experimentation and with the ultra heavier path Sabbath would take in the 80's and 90's, it stands out like a sore thumb in the entire catalog. Maybe I'm being too harsh, and I admit I'm nitpicking.

9
Swinging The Chain
4:07

Another Bill Ward lead track like It's Alright from TE. I find It's Alright to be quite a charming little song, but with Swinging the Chain, I really wish Ozzy took the lead and gave it the attitude that his performance usually gives songs. STC sounds odd if you're not expecting that Ozzy does not sing on it, it's another feeling of "does this belong on here?". However, the breakdown at the end of the song is awesome.

In all I find that NSD starts off strong like TE, but ends on a weak note, whereas TE seems to end stronger than it started. You definitly get the feeling that Black Sabbath has been growing through some changes and is feeling around to find their way on these two albums, especially NSD.

In comparison, Technical Ecstasy just sounds a little more cohesive, though they both sound pretty polished, maybe a little too over produced sometimes. Technical Ecstasy charted higher in the US at 51 to Never Say Die's 69. Both albums show a trend that Sabbath was beginning to decline nearing the end of the seventies. To me, I kind of think of each Sabbath album as a stand alone album, except for these two which I tend to think of being closer together. When I think of TE I think of NSD.

Now which one do I like more??

I prefer my Ozzy Sabbath to be more doomy and heavy. Both albums can be quite progressive which I also like. When thinking of subject matter and themes, Technical Ecstasy, though less commercial, is my pick. Overall based on song writing, songs, doom riffs gloom lyrics and the awesome surreal album cover art and themes within, Technical Ecstasy edges out the less harsh more frantic Never Say Die.
Ozzy has stated that he doesn't remember recording a lot of Sabbath's later 70's stuff, and listening to it makes him think "WTF were we thinking?". I actually quite enjoy the later 70's stuff, but that might just be the old case of listening to the early albums so much that you start to appreciate the not so popular albums because they're fresher. It is not an easy pick as both are favorites of mine, but they both definitely deserve to get more love by Sabbath fans and music fans in general.

Let me know what you think, did I totally miss the point on these albums? Am I overrating them? which is your preferred album?
For fun, If you were stuck on an island which Sabbath album would you take?
 

doswizard

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I, like yourselves love early Sabbath, but between the two albums as to which one is the better 'overall' is a difficult 'flip' of the coin choice for me depending upon my mood. I enjoy the tracks 'It's Alright' and 'Never Say Die' the most out of any of the other songs. I'm gonna leave my vote in Limbo for now; thanks for sharing!

:cheers2
 

yesfan2000

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Contrarian1-

Interesting topic and reviews.

I hope you had as much fun writing them, as I did reading them.

I'm in the minority, and would choose Never Say Die!
 

Lynch

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For me, these are by far the two worst albums of the 70's era BS. I rarely will listen to either and when/if I do, I find myself skipping past several songs halfway through them or just skipping past them completely. The music is decent, however, after the first 6 albums, they don't hold a candle to any of the ones that came before them. Then when you compare the first 6, these two, and then the two studio albums with Dio on vocals, it makes it even harder to listen to.

I do like Dirty Women. Best song on either album, so I'll give my vote to Technical Ecstasy based on that song alone.
 

RockshotsPhotos

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I have to pick "Technical Ecstasy" musically. "Never Say Die" production and quality of the songwriting started to go downhill. Especially after seeing the NSD US Tour with opener Van Halen in 1978, it was very obvious the END was upon them....
 

Schmetterling

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Of the two albums listed : Technical Ecstasy - but I have to add that I really don't think much of either of these albums and even back then thought that they were on a decline which began with Sabotage.

The first 5 albums were the actual Sabbath classics and after that...well, they were just living on their reputation right up to the end really...


Just my opinion though...
 
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Old Nick

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None of them is a bad record. Considering great songs like Rock n'Roll Doctor and Dirty Woman and Junior's Eyes and Never say Die for example. Bill Ward especially does an excellent job on them. They are not bad at all. Best production maybe on Never say Die and more experimental .Never Say Die is great and even has the collaboration of Rick Wakeman. I never understood so much bad review.
What a RIFF!!
 

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