BLACK SABBATH — Never Say Die!

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BLACK SABBATH - Never Say Die! cover
3.18 | 72 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1978

Filed under Heavy Metal
By BLACK SABBATH

Tracklist

1. Never Say Die (3:49)
2. Johnny Blade (6:28)
3. Junior's Eyes (6:42)
4. A Hard Road (6:06)
5. Shock Wave (5:16)
6. Air Dance (5:17)
7. Over To You (5:24)
8. Breakout (2:35)
9. Swinging The Chain (4:07)

Total Time 45:48

Line-up/Musicians

- Ozzy Osbourne / vocals
- Tony Iommi / guitar, vocals
- Geezer Butler / bass guitar, vocals
- Bill Ward / drums, vocals

- Don Airey / keyboards
- John Elstar / harmonica

About this release

28 September 1978
Vertigo, Warner

Thanks to Time Signature, Stooge, Pekka, Lynx33 for the updates

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BLACK SABBATH NEVER SAY DIE! reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

aglasshouse
After two great SABBATH hits, SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH and SABOTAGE, the band seemed to want to take a temporary different direction with their music, by going at it with a more jazzy feel then the former. They released TECHNICAL ECSTASY to horrible reviews. The album shocked many people that BLACK SABBATH would release such a mediocre recording such as this (seeing as they hadn't before now). BLACK SABBATH did definitely get a generally bad rep in that year.

Two years later, however, they decided to come back with their 8th studio album, NEVER SAY DIE. The album certainly did better than it's earlier sister album, but definitely not by much.

The album still had pop-like notes and composition, however it was obvious they were trying to make a comeback from the last album. They concentrated more on putting heavy chords into the composition to make it sound more like their old music, yet also combining it with this new found feel Ozzy and the band discovered. To be honest, it doesn't sound bad. Yes, there are some slower parts that definitely don't hold much water, but it other circumstances they can retain some enjoyability. A lot of the time, Ozzy's vocals and lyrics support the album through some rough patches, and seem to give new light to the said medium, allowing for it to come back with a much more solid and steadfast feel.

Many people say that this was a poor way for Ozzy to leave the band to let Dio take his place for a few albums, which may be true. However, it is true that many people expect too much out of these early perfect-record bands such as DIO, or BLACK SABBATH. To that, I say give it a chance, and you may happen to like the faster SABBATH.
Conor Fynes
'Never Say Die!' - Black Sabbath (4/10)

By this point in Black Sabbath's career, the album title seems to be a pretty spot-on indication of the band themselves realizing they were losing it. The band's past work "Technical Ecstasy" wasn't necessarily a bad album, but in the context of following six classics of heavy metal, it could only disappoint. Of course, based on what I had heard from others, I was not expecting much different from "Never Say Die!", the last album Black Sabbath would do before being revived by the vocal talents of the late Ronnie James. Although it's relieving to know that Sabbath would yet release some great material with Dio, "Never Say Die!" is a whimper, arguably even less successful than "Technical Ecstasy". Once again, Black Sabbath may not be total goners here, but they might as well be; the band's eighth studio album is one that should be overlooked.

Stylistically, Black Sabbath developed and tweaked their sound quite a bit within a few years, exploring heavy metal, progressive rock, and everything in between. Although it was no surprise to hear Sabbath doing something new in "Technical Ecstasy", their new, more straightforward hard rock style was void of both the heaviness and sophistication that defined each earlier album. "Never Say Die!" continues this lackluster rock sound, although the music is arguably even worse off. It's no secret that Black Sabbath had been going through some problems over the years leading up to this, and it's evident that the constant arguing and drug excess had gone too far. Although Sabbath still manage to cobble together a functional collection of songs, the performance feels muffled, and the songwriting seemingly done out of obligation rather than inspiration.

"Johnny Blade" is a perfect example of how far Sabbath had fallen. Although it still shares Iommi's thick riffing style and Ozzy's nasal vocals in common with an album like "Paranoid", nothing really stands out as being impressive, or even that much enjoyable. Whether the blame may be pointed towards the muffled production or the paint-by-numbers approach to his rock riffs, Tony Iommi feels like a declawed lion here, his usual genius with the guitar clouded by ambivalence and 'x' number of different drugs they were taking at the time. Even Ozzy's vocals- which had blown me away only years earlier with his delivery on "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and "Sabotage"- are strained and lifeless.

"Never Say Die!" is not without its merits, of course. In particular, the song "Air Dance" is a refreshing break from the boring hard rock formula, taking in some unique jazz structures in a piece which could have fit into the band's 'prog' era easily. "Break Out" is also an interesting song, taking the jazz approach further with a big band arrangement and brilliant saxophone solo. These moments feel very out-of-place in the context of an album that sounds as if the band had given up on trying to progress their music any further. "Heaven & Hell" would hear the band playing with a revived vigour. "Never Say Die!" is fortunately not the end for Sabbath, but it's a dismal way to end the classic line-up for one of the greatest bands in rock history.
bonnek
With Technical Ecstasy, Sabbath hit rock bottom. Never Say Die couldn’t possibly be any worse and luckily it wasn’t. There’s nothing here levelling with earlier glory but a few songs are worth hearing for Sabbath fans.

The original A side of the album is acceptable, Never Say Die might even pop up on the occasional best off. It sounds more like Kiss then like Sabbath but it’s a decent song, be it rather sloppy, both in execution and recording. Johnny Blade has an intro that might make you think you’re inside a Rainbow album. Also Junior’s Eyes will never be a Sabbath classic but it isn’t a bad track neither, slightly bluesy and with good melodies but again it’s must have been performed in Ozzy’s bathroom after a sleepless night. Terrible sound.

After those 3 it’s completely over. All that’s left is the pedestrian cliché rock of Hard Road and Shock Wave or incredibly lifeless attempts at pop-rock like Over To You. Bill Ward’s vocal on Swinging the Chain is better then his contribution on Technical Ecstasy but the songs is possibly worse. Third-rate blues performed by amateur at your local pub, that’s how it sounds.

A modest 2 stars.
Time Signature
A hard road...

Genre: hard rock / metal

I agree with some of the other reviews of this album that "Never Say Die" is an underrated album, but I must admit that I think it is the weakest album of the Ozzy era, and I think that the band soundd very tired on this album.

That doesn't mean the it's a bad album at all. There are a number of nice tracks on it such as the Beatles-light slightly boogying "A Hard Road", the progressively inclined ballady "Air Dance" and the jazzy/funky "Break Out" with its effective use of saxophones, sounding like a darker "Twentieth Century Schizoid Man" - and "Break Out" is probably my favorite track on this record. "Johnny Blade" with its spacy keyboards also works well.

But, I think that many of the straight hard rocking tracks sound bland and uninspired compared to Sabbath's early works. And tracks like "Never Say Die", "Junior's Eyes", "Shock Wave" and "Over to You" don't really do that much for me. I do like the main riff of the latter though, and the former is kind of ahead of its time, sounding more like typical 80s metal than 70s hard rock.

The weakest Ozzy era album, for my money, but still an underrated album, and I think that fans of hard rock and early metal will find something on this album that they like, as I did.

Members reviews

SouthSideoftheSky
Black Sabbath meets Colosseum II!

After the uneven and slightly disappointing, but still good, Technical Ecstasy album, Black Sabbath once again changed direction (or progressed, if you like). This time the change is for the better again! One thing to notice about this band's entire output is that they were never afraid of trying out new things and Never Say Die is no exception to this general rule as it contains some surprising, and surprisingly successful, new influences for the band. While this album hardly matches the band's masterpiece albums from the first half of the 70's, I nevertheless think that Never Say Die is a very underrated effort; especially so by fans of the more progressive side of things. Such fans ought to appreciate the interesting Jazz-Rock/Fusion influences on several of the album's songs. I strongly recommend not giving up on this album until you get to the second half since it is here that you will find the best songs. All the songs from Shock Wave to Swinging The Chain are great!

The album opens with the almost punky title track, being something of this album's version of Paranoid. The hard rocking Johnny Blade follows. The latter song features a keyboard introduction that sounds very similar to what Ozzy would go on to do on his Mr. Crowley on his first solo album just a couple years later (a great album too by the way!). Incidentally, the keyboard player is Don Airey on both albums (which probably isn't a coincidence, after all). Airey's presence here certainly adds to the overall mix and there is some really good keyboard work on many of the tracks. Junior's Eyes is a pretty good song with a strong melody and some slight surprises. Hard Road is the track that most resembles the traditional heavy Black Sabbath sound and it would not have been out of place on Paranoid or Volume Four.

Now on to the second half of the album, which I must emphasise again, is the by far more interesting half of the album. Here, there is a distinct jazzy feeling on several tracks. Air Dance in particular is a very surprising track on this album and the closest Black Sabbath ever came to Jazz-Rock/Fusion, and it is probably also the best track on Never Say Die. Don Airey had just come from working with Colosseum II and he does an excellent performance on the keyboards here. Air Dance sounds a bit like Colosseum II actually; interesting tempo changes, very good piano work and some very tasteful use of synthesizers. Over To You, again features piano and a strong vocal. The instrumental Breakout even features a brass section! The last track, Swinging The Chain is a bluesy Hard Rock song that features Bill Ward on vocals. It is very much better than his out-of-place contribution to the previous album. This song also features harmonica!

Never Say Die would be the last Black Sabbath album to feature Ozzy Osbourne on vocals and is a very unusual album in the band's discography. It is far more progressive and adventurous than anything the band would do with Ronnie James Dio or Ian Gillan.

A very underrated album and highly recommended!

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