The Eternal Idol

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The Eternal Idol
Black Sabbath The Eternal Idol.jpg
Studio album by
Released23 November 1987
RecordedOctober 1986–March 1987
StudioAir Studios, Montserrat
Air Studios and Battery Studios, London, England
GenreHeavy metal
Warner Bros. (US/Canada)
ProducerJeff Glixman, Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, Chris Tsangarides
Black Sabbath chronology
Seventh Star
The Eternal Idol
Headless Cross
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[2]
Classic Rock4/10 stars[3]
Martin Popoff10/10 stars[4]

The Eternal Idol is the 13th studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on November 23, 1987. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Tony Martin. It spent six weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at 168.[5] 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.

Album information[edit]

The album cover was intended to feature a picture of an Auguste Rodin sculpture from 1889 – also called "The Eternal Idol"; however, the album cover actually features two naked models covered in paint and positioned to resemble the piece of art because permission to photograph the actual sculpture could not be secured. The paint had toxic effects and the models had to go straight to hospital at the end of the photo shoot.[6] Despite the sleeve credits, which cites Dave Spitz as bass player, all bass parts were completed by Bob Daisley, and Eric Singer completed all drum parts. The percussion credit to Bev Bevan relates to a few cymbal overdubs on "Scarlet Pimpernel".[7]

The album was originally to be recorded with Spitz and vocalist Ray Gillen. The former was replaced by bassist/lyricist Bob Daisley during the initial sessions on Montserrat with producer Jeff Glixman, and the latter quit shortly after their return in England.[8] He later joined the band Blue Murder.[8] Tony Martin was hired and reconstructed the vocals under the guidance of Chris Tsangarides at Battery Studios shortly before production ended.[8] 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 subsequently modified by Geoff Nicholls. Tony 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."[9]

Drummer Bev Bevan and original Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler were hired to return for the 1987 tour in support of the album, effectively reinstating the Born Again tour line-up (with Martin in the vocalist spot rather than Ian Gillan). Butler backed out, however, upon learning that Sabbath had dates booked in South Africa, forcing Nicholls to bass for a few shows and eventually leading to the hiring of Jo Burt. Bevan would subsequently depart as well, replaced by former The Clash drummer Terry Chimes, who appears in the music video for "The Shining".

"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'…"[10]

There is a 3-minute and fifteen second studio outtake titled "Some Kind of Woman", which was written by Tony Martin shortly after joining the band. It was offered as a B-side to "The Shining" single and an early version of "Black Moon", which was released on Headless Cross, was released as a B-Side to the "Eternal Idol" single.

The album was re-released on 1 November 2010 in Europe in a 2-disc expanded set. Bonus content includes the aforementioned B-sides "Some Kind of Woman" and "Black Moon" on disc 1, while disc 2 contains the session for the album recorded with Ray Gillen on vocals.[11][12]

Track listing[edit]

Music by Tony Iommi; lyrics by Bob Daisley and Ray Gillen. "Black Moon" and "Some Kind of Woman" lyrics by Tony Martin and Geoff Nicholls.

Side one
1."The Shining"6:00
2."Ancient Warrior"5:28
3."Hard Life to Love"5:00
4."Glory Ride"4:49
Side two
5."Born to Lose"3:43
7."Scarlet Pimpernel" (Instrumental)2:05
8."Lost Forever"4:03
9."Eternal Idol"6:33

2010 Deluxe Edition Disc 2[edit]

The 2010 Deluxe Edition Disc 2 consists of the earlier recording sessions, with Ray Gillen performing vocals.

1."Glory Ride"5:21
2."Born to Lose"3:41
3."Lost Forever"4:18
4."Eternal Idol"6:48
5."The Shining"6:30
6."Hard Life to Love"5:20
8."Ancient Warrior"4:54


Black Sabbath

Additional musicians

  • Bev Bevan – percussion (cymbal overdubs on "Scarlet Pimpernel" and "Eternal Idol")

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
United Kingdom 1 November 1987 Vertigo Records
United States 8 December 1987 Warner Bros. Records
Canada 1987 Warner Bros. Records
United Kingdom April 1996 Castle Communications
United Kingdom 25 October 2004 Sanctuary Records
United Kingdom 16 November 2010 (2 CD) Sanctuary Records/Universal Music Group

Charts performance[edit]

Year Chart Position
1987 United Kingdom 66
United States 168


  1. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "The Eternal Idol – Black Sabbath". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  2. ^ "Black Sabbath: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  3. ^ Elliott, Paul (January 2011). "Black Sabbath – Reissues". Classic Rock. 153. London, UK: Future plc. p. 112.
  4. ^ Popoff, Martin (1 November 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5.
  5. ^ "The Eternal Idol album info". Billboard. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  6. ^ Iommi, Tony. Black Sabbath: My Journey through Heaven and Hell.
  7. ^ Sharpe-Young, Garry (1 September 2003). "10". Black Sabbath: Never Say Die! 1979–1997. London, UK: Cherry Red Books. ISBN 978-1901447163.
  8. ^ a b c Hugh, Gilmour (1996). The Eternal Idol (CD Booklet). Black Sabbath. England: Castle Communications ESM CD 336. p. 9.
  9. ^ Southern Cross No.10, May 1993
  10. ^ Southern Cross, No.19, March 1997
  11. ^ "Black Sabbath News". Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  12. ^ Siegler, Joe (15 September 2010). ", Ray Gillen Eternal Idol to be released – FOR REAL!". Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2011.

External links[edit]