Arts

Albums: Black Sabbath box set a reminder of how talented reality TV's Ozzy Osborne is

Black Sabbath – The Ten Year War Box Set is a triumph of the Ozzy Osbourne-fronted years

Black Sabbath

The Ten Year War Box Set

IT'S nearly 50 years since four guys from Birmingham released their debut LP, the self-titled Black Sabbath single-handedly changing the face of rock and essentially creating heavy metal. As time as ticked by the line-up has fluctuated, along with the sobriety of frontman Ozzy Osborne. The Ten Year War Box Set is a triumph of the Osbourne-fronted years, a collection of eight vinyl LPs (reproduced in their original sleeves) Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die. As a bonus there are also two rare 7-inch singles – the Japanese version of Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games with Me)/Black Sabbath and Paranoid/The Wizard (Chilean release). This is all before you get to the USB stick of the first eight albums. The quality is outstanding. As for Osbourne's vocals – it's easy to forget how talented the now reality TV celebrity is.

9/10

Rachel Howdle

Gregory Porter

Nat King Cole And Me

CYNICS, make thyselves scarce. Yes, this is a covers album. But Gregory Porter, the Californian with the lush baritone has always had a bit of a thing for the late King. Here he indulges that passion and dives deep into the songbook of an all-time great and his personal hero. The California-born 45-year-old has often spoken of an absent father, but the music of Nat King Cole has wielded a profound alternative influence. Porter's long-held affection for these songs shines through, with warm-hearted takes on Mona Lisa, Smile and Nature Boy leading off the album. Backed by a symphony orchestra, Porter holds nothing back, and on Pick Yourself Up he revels as a crooner, as though sent through time from the days of Cole, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and co. A real labour of love, destined to tug at hearts this autumn.

7/10

John Skilbeck

Howie Payne

Mountain

HOWIE Payne looks out from the cover of his new album, Mountain, with a scarf and stare that seem to echo the cover of Bob Dylan's classic album Blonde On Blonde. Unsurprisingly, then, Mountain is tinged with a nostalgic 1960s groove that largely works well with Payne's clean voice and direct lyrics. Mountain deviates from the troubadour tendencies of Payne's debut, Bright Light Ballads, and for the most part this proves a wise move. As pleasant as his stripped-back songs sound, notably After Tonight and Evangeline (Los Angeles), they only emphasise the limits of Payne's lyricism, which often lands closer to molehill than mountain. But in the heart of his album Payne delivers the goods, with the warm feel and catchy hooks of Brightest Star and Some Believer, Sweet Dreamer proving Payne's prowess as a solid songwriter near the top of his game.

6/10

Alexander Sharp

Son Of Dave

Music For Cop Shows

BEAT-boxing Canadian bluesmen are woefully under-represented in the world of pop music, so thank goodness for Son of Dave (real name Benjamin Darvill), who is back with another collection of tongue-in-cheek but impossibly infectious rock'n'roll stompers.

In a return to the lo-fi sound of his early albums, Music for Cop Shows is dominated by parping harmonica, grunts and snarls that are accessorised here and there with a spindly guitar or keyboard lick. The half-whispered, half-barked lyrics are as strange as ever, hinting at seedy tales of staying up late, dancing all night and generally acting the rogue.

But the emphasis remains resolutely on getting listeners' hips swinging, and every track pulsates with foot-tapping grooves. Cop shows never sounded so funky.

8/10

James Robinson

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