Black Sabbath’s “Never Say Die!” has been called the band’s worst album by Geezer Butler, one of the band’s founding members. In a recent interview with Metal Edge magazine, Geezer explained that the album’s perceived shortcomings were a result of the band’s poor state while recording it. While some fans may be disappointed to hear Geezer’s assessment of the album, it’s worth noting that many critics agree with him.
The album, released in 1978, was the last one to feature Ozzy Osbourne as lead vocalist until his reunion with the band in 2013. Despite being a commercial success, the album was not well-received critically, and its reputation has not improved over time. In fact, many consider it to be the weakest album of the band’s initial run.
Geezer also defended Ozzy’s decision to stay true to the band’s original sound in the late ’70s, noting that it was important for the band’s identity. While the band experimented with different styles over the years, Geezer argued that staying true to their roots was essential to maintaining their integrity.
Although “Never Say Die!” is often considered to be the band’s weakest album, it’s not the only one that has received negative reviews. “Forbidden,” released in 1996, is often cited as the band’s worst album overall. However, Geezer’s comments show that he still has fond memories of the band’s earlier work and that he recognizes the challenges they faced while recording “Never Say Die!”
Asked how he views Sabbath’s late ’70s records, Geezer replied:
“Definitely not, in the same way, I view the earlier records. And I will say that ‘Never Say Die!’ is easily the worst album we did. The reason for that is we tried to manage ourselves and produce the record ourselves. We wanted to do it on our own, but in truth, not one of us had a single clue about what to do.
“By that point, we were spending more time with lawyers and in court rather than being in the studio writing. It was just too much pressure on us, and the writing suffered.”
Of course, Sabbath’s infamous drug abuse had gotten to unprecedented levels at the time, but Geezer notes it wasn’t nearly the only issue plaguing the band at the time:
“There were a lot of issues beyond drugs and drinking. Once we finally had time to stop touring, we were wondering where all the money was. And when we asked our managers why our accounts were averaging down, even though we were selling records, we never got a straight answer.
“You can’t imagine the kind of challenge that presents because we were selling records and putting on all these shows, but our accounts didn’t reflect as such. There was a lot of money that we just weren’t seeing, and then paying taxes became a whole other issue stemming from those money issues. So, that was truly when things started to go wrong for Sabbath.”
Then, there were growing differences with Ozzy, who eventually departed in 1979. Speaking of those, Geezer said:
“Those were certainly a problem, too. The thing is, we were trying to progress too much musically. We completely lost the plot, I think. We stopped doing the things that made Sabbath what it was and began going from more melodic stuff, which was a mistake looking back.”
Geezer notes how Ozzy wanted to stay closer to the band’s original sound, admitting that it might well have been the wiser course of action:
“Ozzy always wanted to still sound like the old version of Sabbath, while Tony and I wanted to expand musically. Looking back, Ozzy was probably right because our expansion caused us to lose what Sabbath was supposed to be about.”