Vinyl Minded with Devo and Black Sabbath


Freedom of Choice (Warner/Rhino)

Limited edition gatefold 180-gram vinyl

Originally released in 1980, new-wave-post-art-punk band Devo's Freedom of Choice is an absolute, bonafide classic. All killer and no filler, the album is jam packed with songs as vitally important as "Girl U Want," the title track, "Gates of Steel" (a perfect song), and of course "Whip It." The album can't be faulted.

This new release from Rhino is probably worth the purchase, even of you already own it. The weighty vinyl sounds gorgeous, while the packaging is great. The original 1980 catalog sheet, stylized to look kinda like those Charles Atlas and 3D glasses ads in the back of comic books, is a treat, as are the new notes from producer Robert Margouleff.

This release has been cut from the original analog master tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed at Optimal Media, and everyone involved did a stellar job. Devo might be winding down the live dates at this point in their career, but it's reassuring to know that their recorded output is being treated reverently.

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath (Warner/Rhino)

Limited edition gatefold 180-gram vinyl

The debut album from Birmingham promo-metal band Black Sabbath remains their best. Dark and sinister, psychedelic without diving into proggy territory, it's a gloomy, doomy classic.

The song "Black Sabbath" opens the album, the rain pouring in the background, and the mood is set. The album sounds as evil as it ever did, as "The Wizard" walks by. This writer, being English, was surprised to learn that the cover of Crow's "Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me) never made it onto the U.S. version of the album due to rights issues. Rather, America got "Wicked World" which is a good song, but it does seem a shame.

No matter, it's still a gem, and this reissue is beautiful. Like the Devo release, it's been cut from the original analog master tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, and pressed at Optimal Media. There are new notes by engineer Tom Allom. The sleeve, one of the greatest in metal history, looks lovely on the heavyweight gatefold jacket.

Overall, Sabbath's debut wasn't broken and didn't need fixing. But a bit of spit and polish doesn't hurt.