The Eternal Idol

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The Eternal Idol
Black Sabbath The Eternal Idol.jpg
Studio album by
Released23 November 1987
RecordedOctober 1986–March 1987
Studio Air Studios, Montserrat
Air Studios and Battery Studios, London, England
Genre Heavy metal
Label Vertigo
Warner Bros. (US/Canada)
Producer Jeff Glixman, Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, Chris Tsangarides
Black Sabbath chronology
Seventh Star
The Eternal Idol
Headless Cross
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [1]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [2]
Classic Rock Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [3]
Martin Popoff Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [4]

The Eternal Idol is the 13th studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on November 23, 1987. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Tony Martin. It spent six weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at 168. [5] It was also the last full album of new material by Black Sabbath to be released by Warner Bros. Records (in North America), and the final album through their original label Vertigo Records until the release of 13 in 2013.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Tony Martin (British singer) English heavy metal musician

Anthony Philip Harford, better known by his stage name Tony Martin, is a heavy metal vocalist, best known for his time fronting Black Sabbath, initially from 1987 to 1991 and again from 1993 to 1996. Martin was the band's second longest serving vocalist after Ozzy Osbourne. He has since been involved in many other projects.


Album information

The album cover was intended to feature an Auguste Rodin sculpture from 1889 – also called "The Eternal Idol". Instead, it features naked models covered in paint and positioned to resemble the piece of art because permission to photograph the sculpture could not be secured. The paint had toxic effects and the models had to go to hospital at the end of the shoot. [6]

Auguste Rodin French sculptor

François Auguste René Rodin, known as Auguste Rodin, was a French sculptor. Although Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against the past. He was schooled traditionally, took a craftsman-like approach to his work, and desired academic recognition, although he was never accepted into Paris's foremost school of art.

The sleeve credits Dave Spitz as bass player, but all bass parts were by Bob Daisley. Eric Singer played the drums; the percussion credit for Bev Bevan relates to a few cymbal overdubs on "Scarlet Pimpernel". [7]

Dave Spitz Bass Player

Dave "The Beast" Spitz is an American musician best known for having played bass guitar for the heavy metal group Black Sabbath from 1985 to 1987, appearing on the albums Seventh Star and being credited for The Eternal Idol. Dave also helped discover Ray Gillen, the vocalist who joined Black Sabbath mid-tour in 1986, following the sudden exit of Glenn Hughes.

Robert John Daisley is an Australian musician, songwriter and author. Daisley is also known for contributing bass and lyrics for Ozzy Osbourne throughout the 1980s and 1990s he has also associated with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Gary Moore and Uriah Heep.

Eric Singer hard rock and heavy metal drummer

Eric Singer is an American hard rock and heavy metal drummer, best known as a member of Kiss, portraying The Catman originally played by Peter Criss. He has also performed with artists such as Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Lita Ford, Badlands, Brian May and Gary Moore as well as his own band ESP. In his career, Singer has appeared on over 75 albums and 11 EPs.

The album was originally to be recorded with Spitz and vocalist Ray Gillen. The former was replaced by bassist/lyricist Bob Daisley during initial sessions on Montserrat with producer Jeff Glixman. Gillen quit shortly after their return to England. [8] He later joined the band Badlands. [8]

Ray Gillen American musician

Raymond Arthur Gillen was an American rock singer-songwriter. He is best known for his work with Badlands, in addition to his stint with Black Sabbath in the mid-1980s and recording most of the vocals on Phenomena's Dream Runner album.

Montserrat British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean

Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory (BOT) in the Caribbean. The island is in the Leeward Islands, which is part of the chain known as the Lesser Antilles, in the West Indies. Montserrat measures approximately 16 km (10 mi) in length and 11 km (7 mi) in width, with approximately 40 km (25 mi) of coastline. Montserrat is nicknamed "The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean" both for its resemblance to coastal Ireland and for the Irish ancestry of many of its inhabitants.

Jeff Glixman is an American record producer. He has produced, mixed or remastered artists such as Kansas, Gary Moore, Yngwie Malmsteen, The Georgia Satellites and Black Sabbath. Combined sales of his projects exceed 30 million units.

Tony Martin was hired and reconstructed the vocals under the guidance of Chris Tsangarides at Battery Studios shortly before production ended. [8] Most tracks were written by Tony Iommi and Bob Daisley (the vinyl version states that all songs were written by Iommi) although some lyrics were modified by Geoff Nicholls. Martin said he "only sang on, and had no part in writing" The Eternal Idol, but nonetheless "thought [it] was one of the better albums of the band." [9]

Christopher Andrew Tsangarides was a British Grammy-nominated record producer, sound engineer, and mixer of Greek Cypriot origin. He was best known for his work with many heavy metal bands, including Gary Moore, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Helloween, Anvil, Angra, Anthem, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Tygers of Pan Tang. Tsangarides worked with many pop and alternative artists as well, including Depeche Mode, Tom Jones, Concrete Blonde, and The Tragically Hip.

Geoff Nicholls English musician

Geoffrey James Nicholls was a British musician and keyboardist, and longtime member of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, until 2004. Nicholls also played in the NWOBHM band Quartz, before joining Black Sabbath. In the 1960s/early 1970s, Geoff played lead guitar for the Birmingham bands The Boll Weevils, The Seed, Johnny Neal and the Starliners and keyboards for World Of Oz.

Drummer Bevan and original Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler were hired for a 1987 tour in support of the album, which would have reunited three-quarters of the Born Again tour line-up (with Martin singing rather than Ian Gillan). However, Butler backed out on learning that Sabbath had booked dates in South Africa. Nicholls played bass for a few shows before Jo Burt was hired. Bevan was subsequently replaced by former Clash drummer Terry Chimes, who appears in the music video for "The Shining". ("The bass player in the 'Shining' video," recalled Martin, was some guy that we dragged off the street. I can't remember his name but he looked the part. He said that he was a guitarist. I remember he was always talking about how he was a Red Indian, thus all the turquoise he wore! We never saw him again." [10] )

Geezer Butler English musician, bassist and lyricist of Black Sabbath

Terence Michael Joseph "Geezer" Butler is an English musician and songwriter. Butler is best known as the bassist and primary lyricist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He has also recorded and performed with Heaven & Hell, GZR, and Ozzy Osbourne. He currently serves as bassist of Deadland Ritual.

<i>Born Again</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1983 studio album by Black Sabbath

Born Again is the eleventh studio album by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath. Released in August of 1983, it is the first and only album the group recorded with lead vocalist Ian Gillan, best known for his work with Deep Purple. It was also the last Black Sabbath album for nine years to feature original bassist Geezer Butler and the last to feature original drummer Bill Ward, though Ward did record a studio track with the band fifteen years later on their 1998 live album Reunion. The album has received mixed reviews from critics, but was a commercial success upon its 1983 release, reaching No. 4 in the UK charts. The album also hit the top 40 in the United States.

Ian Gillan English rock singer and songwriter

Ian Gillan is an English singer and songwriter. He is the lead singer and lyricist for the rock band Deep Purple.

"I'd like to have seen some of the stuff off The Eternal Idol be a bit more credited," Iommi reflected to Sabbath fanzine Southern Cross, "because I think there's some good tracks on that album – 'Ancient Warrior'…" [11]

A three-minute and fifteen second studio outtake titled "Some Kind of Woman", written by Tony Martin shortly after joining the band, appeared as a b-side of the "The Shining" single. An early version of "Black Moon" – a song destined for Headless Cross – was released as a b-side of the "Eternal Idol" single.

The album was rereleased on 1 November 2010 in Europe as a two-disc expanded set. Bonus content includes the aforementioned b-sides "Some Kind of Woman" and "Black Moon" on disc 1. Disc 2 contains the session for the album recorded with Ray Gillen on vocals. [12] [13]

Track listing

Music by Tony Iommi; lyrics by Bob Daisley and Ray Gillen. "Black Moon" and "Some Kind of Woman" lyrics by Tony Martin and Geoff Nicholls.

Side one
1."The Shining"6:00
2."Ancient Warrior"5:28
3."Hard Life to Love"5:00
4."Glory Ride"4:49
Side two
5."Born to Lose"3:43
7."Scarlet Pimpernel" (Instrumental)2:05
8."Lost Forever"4:03
9."Eternal Idol"6:33

2010 Deluxe Edition Disc 2

The 2010 Deluxe Edition Disc 2 consists of the earlier recording sessions, with Ray Gillen performing vocals.

1."Glory Ride"5:21
2."Born to Lose"3:41
3."Lost Forever"4:18
4."Eternal Idol"6:48
5."The Shining"6:30
6."Hard Life to Love"5:20
8."Ancient Warrior"4:54


Black Sabbath

Additional musicians


Release history

United Kingdom1 November 1987 Vertigo Records
United States8 December 1987 Warner Bros. Records
Canada1987Warner Bros. Records
United KingdomApril 1996 Castle Communications
United Kingdom25 October 2004 Sanctuary Records
United Kingdom16 November 2010 (2 CD)Sanctuary Records/Universal Music Group

Charts performance

1987United Kingdom66
United States168

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