Tony Martin joined Black Sabbath in 1987 for The Eternal Idol album, replacing Ray Gillen. Gillen went on to Badlands with Jake E Lee, but not before working on an album that would become The Eternal Idol. Martin would go on to sing & write on 4 further Sabbath albums, with a break when the band reunited for 1992’s Dehumanizer album with Dio. During Tony Martin’s era, there were a few line-up changes, and though it wasn’t a huge commercial successful period for the band (at least not in North America), many Sabbath fans enjoyed this era. Unfortunately, it didn’t end on a high note, and these albums have become harder to find on CD & LP! The era has also been brushed aside by some as the band carried on with a reunion of the original line-up (with and without Bill Ward), as well as a further reunion with Dio (as Heaven & Hell). And with all the reissues, box sets, etc.. that have been coming out steady over the past several years from the bands Ozzy and Dio eras, a Tony Martin set of proper reissues is long overdue, and are (hopefully) going to happen this year! (see article link below). Tony Martin also released an excellent solo album in 2022 titled Thorns. Below is a list of 10 great tracks from the Black Sabbath albums with Tony Martin. *check out the links below
The first song and single from The Eternal Idol, a Sabbath classic. Written before Tony Martin joined. His writing contributions would begin on the next album. The Eternal Idol featured a number of players, notably Bob Daisley (who would co-write a lot of the lyrics), Eric Singer, Bev Bevan, and longtime Sabbath member Geoff Nichols (RIP). A lot of good tracks on this album!
Devil & Daughter
Headless Cross came out in ’89, co-produced by Iommi and new drummer Cozy Powell! The line-up on record also included Nichols, and bass player Laurence Cottle. A bit of a different approach in production, with space left between guitar for vocals, often at times over top of keys. But plenty of good songs on this one, all credited to Black Sabbath. “Devil & Daughter” is my favorite track here, and was also the single — a one-sided single (credited to Iommi, Powell and Martin).
When Death Calls
Also from Headless Cross, This is classic dark and evil sounding Sabbath. Highlighted by a Brian May guitar solo,
The last track on Headless Cross. Although this is solid heavy album, it does feature some different approaches, such as this ballad, featuring plenty of acoustic guitar, a few changes in pace, and a great vocal.
Opening 1990’s TYR album with acoustic guitar and light choir vocals before Tony Martin’s voice comes in and eventually the band kick in for a killer track. The song comes back to the acoustic guitar with organ and harmony accompaniment. I gotta say, this is the dark horse in the Black Sabbath catalogue for me. I never really got in to it when it came out, but over the years this has grown on me more than any other Sabbath record. Great album, making it difficult to just pick few tracks here. Love the cover art as well.
Another great rocker from TYR! This would’ve made a great single; love the production on this album. Neil Murray on bass!
And here we get to my favorite album from the Tony Martin period. As much as I loved the first Dio era, I wasn’t a fan of Dehumanizer, so for me, it was a shame to have that break with Tony Martin because Cross Purposes (IMO) is a fantastic album, and I played the crap out of this when it came out in ’94. This one saw Geezer Butler still with to the band (after Dehumanizer), as well featured new drummer Bobby Rondinelli. Anyway, “I Witness” revs up and kicks in, a great driving rocker and opener.
Cross Of Thorns
Well, probably my favorite track from this era. Again, something a bit different with the quieter acoustic / vocal beginning, before the heavy build up, and returning softer verses. Dig the build up to Iommi’s solo, and an awesome song for Tony Martin’s vocals. This would’ve made a fantastic single, a shame as there appears to have been no commercial single from this album.
Hand That Rocks The Cradle
Another killer track from Cross Purposes that begins softly with acoustic guitar and keyboard before the band kicks in. Lots of light and shade on this track and album, and I feel Tony Martin’s best contributions (writing and vocally). Pretty decent album cover to boot.
So, Geezer Butler leaves to join Ozzy (briefly), making way for Neil Murray to return, and Cozy Powell returns on drums. But, not sure who was steering the ship here as Body Count (Ice T) guitarist Ernie Cunnigan is brought in to produce Forbidden. WTF!? I’ve never given this album much play, probably due to that rap connection, but hearing it now, it’s not all that bad! I picked “Rusty Angels” here, a pretty straight forward rocker, with a good chorus. Forbidden would be the last to feature Tony Martin, Geoff Nichols, Neil Murray, and Cozy Powell (RIP).