Tony Iommi spoke to The Midland Rocks about the progress of the remixing sessions for BLACK SABBATH's 1995 album "Forbidden". The LP, which features singer Tony Martin, drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Neil Murray, is often regarded as the band's worst studio recording.
"I've had the time, on and off, to start to remix the 'Forbidden' album," Tony said at yesterday's (Saturday, February 9) unveiling of a BLACK SABBATH bench in Birmingham, England. "I never liked the final mix and sound of it — none of the band did actually — so I've been working on that. I'm taking my time, and there is no rush with it. It will be done when it's done. But it's been good to go back and pull it all apart and start to put it back together again."
Asked what the problem was with how "Forbidden" sounded at the time of its release back in 1995, Iommi said: "Well, we weren't involved with how it ended up sounding like it did. It was produced by Ernie C. from the band BODY COUNT and he also got Ice-T to appear on it on the opening track ['Illusion Of Power'] and they were from a totally different background to us. So he came in and did a good job at the time, but I just felt that, without changing any of the songs, there was an opportunity to go back and bring out some of the sounds and make it more what people would expect SABBATH to sound like. I met up with Tony Martin recently and I'm sure he will listen to what I have done with it at some point, but at the moment it is just myself and [engineer] Mike Exeter who have been working on it."
Iommi went on to say that the upcoming "Forbidden" reissue doesn't necessarily mean that other albums from SABBATH's Tony Martin era — such as "Tyr" or "Headless Cross" — will also get the remix treatment.
"It was definitely that album that kind of irritated everybody," Iommi explained. "I was never happy with the guitar sound and Cozy was definitely never happy with the drum sound. He would go on and on about it. So I thought it would be nice to do it for him in a way."
BLACK SABBATH started working on "Forbidden" in Par Street Studios in Liverpool, England in 1994 and completed most of the recording sessions over a 10-day period at Devonshire Studios in Los Angeles with Ernie C.
In a 2011 interview with Gibson.com, Martin stated about "Forbidden": "Well, 'Forbidden' is I want to say 'crap,' but it's actually not. The songs worked really well in rehearsals, and then things started to get political, and I got wind of an Ozzy [Osbourne] reunion [with SABBATH] — not from SABBATH directly, of course. But before that came, there was a meeting at the SABBATH offices in London to which we were summoned to discuss the possibility of doing a RUN-D.M.C. type of album. I thought it wouldn't work, and voiced that. Cozy Powell thought it wouldn't work. I was never sure that most of the others were convinced, but we were kinda steered into a 'rap SABBATH' album. Then I was told that Ice-T was gonna be doing it and they couldn't or wouldn't tell me if he was doing the whole thing or just one track... and I still didn't know the answer to that when I was in the studio singing the tracks. They said they were gonna take it and see what Ice-T wanted to do. So it has a distinct ill feeling about it. The album eventually didn't really work, although some fans love it. And it was the penultimate album to my being removed from the band, the last album to be released being 'Sabbath Stones', a compilation album, which kept my name in the band to span 10 years and six albums."
BLACK SABBATH released six albums with Tony Martin on vocals: "The Eternal Idol" (1987), "Headless Cross" (1989), "Tyr" (1990), "Cross Purposes" (1994), "Cross Purposes Live" (1995) and "Forbidden" (1995).
SABBATH completed its last major tour in February 2017 with two shows in Birmingham, closing out the quartet's groundbreaking 49-year career.
The trek was the band's last because Iommi, who was diagnosed with cancer in late 2011 and is currently in remission, can no longer travel for extended amounts of time. But he has said he would not rule out special events or one-off shows.