Mob Rules is the tenth studio album by the English heavy metal band Black Sabbath, released in November 1981. It followed 1980's Heaven and Hell, and it was the second and last Black Sabbath studio album to feature lead vocalist Ronnie James Dio prior to the 1992 album Dehumanizer.[5]

Produced and engineered by Martin Birch, the album received an expanded edition release in 2010.


 [hide*1 Recording


The very first new recording Black Sabbath made after the Heaven and Hell album was an alternate version of the title track "The Mob Rules", recorded at John Lennon's old English home Tittenhurst Park, which appeared on the soundtrack of the film Heavy Metal released earlier in the year in July.[6] The track E5150 also is heard in the film, but is not included in the soundtrack. In the liner notes to the 2008 box set The Rules of Hell, bassist Geezer Butler claims the famous white piano that Lennon (who had been assassinated the previous December) had written his famous song "Imagine" on was still in the room. According to guitarist Tony Iommi's autobiography Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath, the band began writing and rehearsing songs for the album Mob Rules in at a rented house in Toluca Lake in Los Angeles. Iommi writes that initially the band had hoped to record in their own studio to save money and actually purchased a sound desk but "We just couldn't get a guitar sound. We tried it in the studio. We tried it in the hallway. We tried it everywhere but it just wasn't working. We'd bought a studio and it wasn't working!" The band eventually recorded the album at the Record Plant in Los Angeles and wound up spending twice as much money.

Mob Rules was the first Black Sabbath release to feature Vinny Appice on drums, who had replaced original member Bill Ward in the middle of the tour in support of the previous year's Heaven and Hell.[7] Asked by Joe Matera in 2007 if working with a new drummer was jarring after so many years, Butler replied, "No, because Vinnie was a big fan of the band and loved Bill's playing. Bill was one of his favorite drummers and so he knew all his parts and my bass parts and he adjusted accordingly to everybody in the band. He was brilliant. He came in and totally filled in Bill's shoes." In 2008, Dio explained to Bryan Reesman that, while playing with Ward on Heaven and Hell had been wonderful, "Vinnie added this other flavor. He was a real listener. Instead of thinking of himself as one kind of player, he was part of the band and really played off people." In an interview for the concert film Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven and Hell, Butler cites "The Sign of the Southern Cross" as his favorite track because "it gave me a chance to experiment with some bass effects." The album was the last time the band worked with producer and engineer Martin Birch, who went on to produce a whole collection of Iron Maiden albums until his retirement in 1992. Iommi explained to Guitar World in 1992, "We were all going through a lot of problems at that time, most of it related to drugs. Even the producer, Martin Birch, was having drug problems, and it hurt the sound of that record. Once that happens to your producer, you’re really screwed."

Mob Rules would be singer Ronnie James Dio's second and final studio recording with Black Sabbath until Dehumanizer in 1992. The seeds of discontent appear to have sprouted when Dio was offered a solo deal by Warner Brothers, with Iommi stating in his memoir, "After the (Heaven and Hell) record became such a great success, Warner Brothers extended the contract at the same time, offering Ronnie a solo deal. That felt a bit odd to us, because we were a band and we didn't want to separate anybody. I'm not saying he shouldn't have a solo deal, but it seemed like the wrong thing to do at the time." Dio confided in an interview on the Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven and Hell DVD that the recording of Mob Rules was a far more difficult process for him thanHeaven and Hell had been because "we approached the writing very much differently than the first one. Geezer had gone so we wrote in a very controlled environment in a living room with little amplifiers and with Mob Rules we hired a studio, turned up as loud as possible and smashed through it all. So it made for a different kind of an attitude, more difficult for me to have to sing over all that and try to create while all that was going on...And a lot of times success brings problems, and that happened...All of the bad things that could be used were used, from drug abuse to mental abuse." Iommi reflected to Guitar World in 1992, "Mob Rules was a confusing album for us. We started writing songs differently for some reason, and ended up not using a lot of really great material. That line-up was really great, and the whole thing fell apart for very silly reasons — we were all acting like children." The major problem, noted by Mick Wall in his book Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe, was that the balance of power within the band had shifted: "With Bill and Ozzy happy to leave the heavy lifting to Tony and Geezer, in terms of songwriting, coming into the studio only when they were called, even as their flair deserted them over the final, dismal Ozzy-era albums, at least everybody knew where they stood. Now, though, the creative chemistry had shifted."


The cover art is a modified version of artist Greg Hildebrandt's piece entitled Dream 1: Crucifiers from 1971, with Black Sabbath licensing its use for the cover of Mob Rules.[citation needed] Some fans claim the name 'Ozzy' was spelled out on the album cover, something Iommi dismisses as "rubbish" in his autobiography: "There was a little controversy about some stains on the floor in the picture. According to some people it spelled out 'Ozzy'. Somebody mentioned it to us and we went: 'What?'...I never noticed anything and I still wouldn't know where to find it."

Release and reception[edit]Edit

Mob Rules was released on November 4, 1981 to mixed reviews. In the U.S., it went gold, and in the U.K. it reached the Top 20 and spawned two chart singles, the title track and "Turn Up the Night." AllMusic's Greg Prato calls the album was "underrated"[8] and enthuses, "Mob Rules was given a much punchier, in-your-face mix by Birch, who seemed re-energized after his work on New Wave of British Heavy Metal upstarts Iron Maiden's Killers album. Essentially, Mob Rules is a magnificent record, with the only serious problem being the sequencing of the material, which mirrorsHeaven and Hell's almost to a tee." Iommi acknowledged this common criticism in his memoir, admitting that he was frustrated at being accused of making Heaven and Hell part two' and speculating that the band would have been criticized regardless of their approach. Appraising the album in the February 1986 edition of Rolling Stone, writer J.D. Constantine trashed Mob Rules, declaring Sabbath "as dull-witted and flatulent as ever" and opining that "Dio's lyrics are insipid and clichéd, but since the vocals are usually buried in the mix, that's only a minor annoyance. His bass rumbling like an overloaded truck, Geezer Butler is busy, busy, busy. But not quite as busy as guitarist Tony Iommi, who uses the album as an opportunity to demonstrate how swiftly he can play...As for the new kid on the block, drummer Vinnie Appice, his thumping is so leaden and uninspired you have to listen twice to notice him...The reason that Mob Rules is terrible is teamwork — not just thinking up lame riffs and dumb lyrics but also performing them as poorly as possible." Profiling the album in 2008, Bryan Reesman noted, "Even with Dio bringing in more fantasy-based lyrics, and moving the group away from seemingly Satanic verses, the title track to Mob Rules, not to mention its menacing cover, could easily imply a call to anarchy. But beyond the snarling guitars and vocals is actually a cautionary tale against mindless mayhem."

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs were written by Ronnie James DioTony Iommi, and Geezer Butler. All lyrics were written by Ronnie James Dio.[9]

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Turn Up the Night"   3:42
2. "Voodoo"   4:32
3. "The Sign of the Southern Cross"   7:46
4. "E5150"   2:54
5. "The Mob Rules"   3:14
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Country Girl"   4:02
7. "Slipping Away"   3:45
8. "Falling Off the Edge of the World"   5:02
9. "Over and Over"   5:28

2010 Deluxe Edition[edit]Edit

Disc 2 is a repackaging of the previously released Limited Edition CD Live at Hammersmith Odeon

Disc 1
No. Title Length
1. "Turn Up the Night"   3:42
2. "Voodoo"   4:32
3. "The Sign of the Southern Cross"   7:44
4. "E5150"   2:54
5. "The Mob Rules"   3:15
6. "Country Girl"   4:02
7. "Slipping Away"   3:42
8. "Falling Off the Edge of the World"   5:03
9. "Over and Over"   5:28
10. "Die Young" (Live, 12" Single B-Side of Mob Rules) 4:04
11. "The Mob Rules" (Heavy Metal OMPS/ Original demo version) 3:14
Disc 2
No. Title Recording date Length
1. "E5150"   2 January 1982 1:18
2. "Neon Knights(Dio, Iommi, Butler, Bill Ward) 2 January 1982 4:37
3. "N.I.B.(Ozzy Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward) 1 January 1982 5:16
4. "Children of the Sea(Dio, Iommi, Butler, Ward) 1 January 1982 6:07
5. "Country Girl"   1 January 1982 3:53
6. "Black Sabbath(Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward) 31 December 1981 8:24
7. "War Pigs(Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward) 1 January 1982 7:40
8. "Slipping Away"   31 December 1981 3:18
9. "Iron Man(Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward) 1 January 1982 7:04
10. "The Mob Rules"   31 December 1981 3:35
11. "Heaven and Hell(Dio, Iommi, Butler, Ward) 1 January 1982 14:24
12. "Paranoid(Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward) 31 December 1981 3:21
13. "Voodoo"   2 January 1982 5:45
14. "Children of the Grave(Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, Ward) 31 December 1981 5:05


Year Song Chart positions
[ US

Mainstream Rock]

[ UK

Singles Chart]

1981 "The Mob Rules"/"Die Young" 46
1982 "Turn Up the Night"/"Lonely Is the Word" 24 37
1982 "Voodoo" 46
1982 "E5150"


Black Sabbath
Additional performer
  • Produced and engineered by Martin Birch[9]
  • Assistant engineers – Eddie DeLena, Angelo Arcuri[9]
  • Technicians to Black Sabbath – Ian Ferguson, Michael Howse, Les Martin, Peter Resty[9]
  • Remastered by Dan Hersch (2008 reissue)
  • Cover illustration by Greg Hildebrandt[9]
  • Art direction by Richard Seireeni[9]

Release history[edit]Edit

Region Date Label
United Kingdom November 1981 Vertigo Records
United States November 1981 Warner Bros. Records
Canada November 1981 Warner Bros. Records
United Kingdom 1996 Castle Communications
United Kingdom 2004 Sanctuary Records
United States October 2008 Rhino Records


RIAA certification[11] (United States)

Date Designation Total Sales
13 May


Gold 500,000

BPI certification[12] (United Kingdom)

Date Designation Total Sales
5 February


Silver 60,000

CRIA certification[13] (Canada)

Date Designation Total Sales
1 March


Gold 50,000
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.