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Paul Elliott: Black Sabbath: The Vault

Vault? Crypt, surely?

Does the world need another ‘unofficial and unauthorised’ Black Sabbath biography? Almost certainly not. But at least this one offers something beyond the bog-standard.

Author Paul Elliott takes a typically meticulous approach to his subject, and there are entertaining chapters on Sabbath’s often-overlooked non-Ozzy/Dio eras. (Although the level of criticism levelled at their undervalued ‘Black Purple’ period with Ian Gillan on vocals is arguably unfair.)

Of chief interest is the rare memorabilia that’s tucked away in mini-envelopes: signed contracts, tickets, postcards and flyers that help give the story a three-dimensional feel. The archive bits’n’pieces also provide a poignant reminder of rock’s infant days, when you could see Sabbath supported by Yes, East Of Eden and Stray for the princely sum of 126 (just over 62p). These days that’d barely buy a donut for David Donato.

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.