The Eternal Idol is the thirteenth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on November 1, 1987 (UK) and December 8, 1987 (USA). It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Tony Martin. It spent six weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at 168. 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.
The album cover features two models in bronze paint re-enacting Auguste Rodin‘s 1889 sculpture “The Eternal Idol”. Due to the paint’s toxicity, the models were hospitalized after the shoot. A photograph of the original sculpture was intended as the cover art, but permission could not be secured.
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”.
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 had struggled with recording the vocal parts according to Bob, Dave, and Geoff and management wasn’t paying him. Gillen quit shortly after their return to England. He later joined the band Badlands. Nightmare was initially written for the third Nightmare on Elm Street movie.
Tony Martin was hired and reconstructed the vocals under the guidance of Chris Tsangarides at Battery Studios shortly before production ended. 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.”
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 apartheid era 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.”)
“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’…”
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 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.
|1.||The Shining||05:58||Show lyrics|
|2.||Ancient Warrior||05:34||Show lyrics|
|3.||Hard Life to Love||05:00||Show lyrics|
|4.||Glory Ride||04:48||Show lyrics|
|5.||Born to Lose||03:43||Show lyrics|
|8.||Lost Forever||04:00||Show lyrics|
|9.||Eternal Idol||06:35||Show lyrics|