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Bible Black

News from the branch of the family tree rarely visited on these pages. In the early 1980s Gary Driscoll and Craig Gruber (of Elf and the first Rainbow album fame) were in a band called Bible Black. Their album The Complete Recordings 1981-1983 will be released on April 14 via the freshly inaugurated Louder Than Loud Records.

Bible Black was an East Coast American band formed by former Elf/Rainbow musicians Gary Driscoll and Craig Gruber, along with Andrew “Duck” McDonald. The bands longest tenured singer was Jeff Fenholt, well known for his very brief stint with Tony Iommi/Black Sabbath and his work with the band Joshua. The band also featured Lou Marullo who later became known as the one and only Eric Adams… and Joey Belladonna who of course went on to join Anthrax. All three vocalists recorded demos with Bible Black between the periods of 1981-1983.

This CD for the first time compiles all recorded works of the band in one place. Sadly Gary Driscoll, Craig Gruber and Jeff Fenholt have all since passed away, making this release a fitting epitaph to their time together as Bible Black. Restored and remastered by Patrick Engel and licensed directly from the last surviving member Andrew “Duck” McDonald” we can now hear one of the great “lost bands” and a piece of Heavy Metal history.

Tracklist:

  1. Gone
  2. Metal Man
  3. Back To Back
  4. Down On the World
  5. Ain’t No Crime
  6. Fighting The Wind
  7. Back Door
  8. Paint It Black
  9. Fires Of Old
  10. You Got Me Where You Want Me
  11. Deceiver
  12. Midnight Dancer
  13. Gone (Jeff Fenholt vocals)
  14. Metal Man (Jeff Fenholt vocals)

Thanks to BraveWords for the info.



19 Comments to “Bible Black”:

  1. 1
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Hardly original, but not bad at all.

    It will forever escape me why Blackmore fired Craig Gruber – in 1976 he was clearly the superior bassist to Jimmy Bain as regards feel, choice of notes and general dexterity. Jimmy learned over time (especially in his Dio years) and became a very good bassist himself, but in the mid-seventies he was rudimentary; no Nick Simper, Roger Glover, Glenn Hughes or Craig Gruber (all bassists Blackmore had played with before) on the instrument. But since he was so low in the mix of Rising – squeezed as it was between Cozy’s hammering double bass drum and Blackmore’s overly loud guitar – no one seemed to care. For lack of a better word, Jimmy’s bass playing could best be described as ‘punkish’, lots of energy, little refinement or originality. Maybe that is what Blackmore initially liked.

    Of course, Blackmore came to realize that later when he said that Jimmy was let go because he found his abilities on bass lacking. Hindsight is 20/20. And Clive Chaman, Mark Clarke and Bob Daisley (people who played with Rainbow after Jimmy was fired) were all again in a different league.

  2. 2
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    Reminds me of King Crimon’s album, “Starless and Bible Black.” I’m guessing there is no connection.

  3. 3
    Mark says:

    I always liked the “feel” of the first Blackmore’s Rainbow album. The band didn’t monster the songs, essentially playing like they would as Elf, allowing their groove to create a mood that the song could grow into. There’s a certain charm to Elf’s playing. So Black Bible might be interesting to hear.
    No doubt “Rising” was a different beast and that’s another story altogether.

  4. 4
    Uwe Hornung says:

    “I always liked the “feel” of the first Blackmore’s Rainbow album. The band didn’t monster the songs, essentially playing like they would as Elf, allowing their groove to create a mood that the song could grow into. There’s a certain charm to Elf’s playing.”

    Mark, that’s a lovely and very apt description of the Rainbow debut. As a unit, Elf had a great band feel. Very American in a positive way. There are some things that Yank musicians just do naturally well. Perhaps that was what Ritchie had a disdain for because the Powell/Bain rhythm section sounded very Brit in comparison.

    And preserving the groove of a band as a unit has never been high on Ritchie’s agenda. Mk II had an unmistakable chugging groove, he willfully deconstructed that after less than four years by replacing Roger with Glenn whose bass playing style had more rhythmic emphasis as well as dynamics and left more space where Roger had delivered a denser, yet smoother foundation. Only two years later exactly those aspects of Glenn’s playing bugged Ritchie and – after a brief intermezzo with Craig Gruber (also a very rhythmic bassist, but not as gung-ho as Glenn) – he hires someone like Jimmy Bain who, frankly, back then would never have been good enough to be a DP bassist.

    Looking back on his career, the Mk II eras in the 70ies and post-reunion era were the only longer periods of time where Ritchie actually settled down to accept a certain band groove as his working platform. (In contrast, the Rainbow rhythm sections would practically change from album to album: Gruber/Driscoll, Bain/Powell, Daisley/Powell, Glover/Powell, Glover/Rondinelli and Glover/Burgi – and you could hear the change every time.)

    Mind you, in Blackmore’s Night the drums/bass/keyb positions have also been stable for long periods, but within the renaissance music/folk/pop concept of BN the band groove isn’t as determinative as it was in Purple.

  5. 5
    Rob says:

    James @2 perhaps both are an allusion to Under Milk Wood – the Crimson certainly is. Anyone into jazz, Stan Tracey’s Under Milk Wood Suite highly recommended, also contains a track called Starless and Bible Black. I may be boring but I know some stuff!

  6. 6
    Dr. Bob says:

    I like this song Gone. Sounds like it could have been on one of the 1st two Iron Maiden Albums.

  7. 7
    Ivica says:

    Bible Black is “Die Young” Black Sabbath track on the Heaven and Hell album…

  8. 8
    Ole Jacobsen says:

    I remember picking up the Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow album when it arrived and listening to in the record store. My first reaction was that this was a more natural continuation of Stormbringer, more so than Come Taste The Band. If this was Blackmore’s plan or just the result of hiring Elf is another question.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I felt exactly the same, Ole: The Rainbow debut was pleasantly familiar to me at the time, pushed all the right buttons, I even thought “why the hell did he leave for that, it sounds just like Stormbringer with a different singer and minus any organ solos” while Come Taste The Band left me initially aghast – it was such a radical departure in sound. But after a few weeks, the energy, enthusiasm and ebullience on CTTB won me over and let me reverse judgement. (And, if truth be told, I also thought that Tommy Bolin looked extremely cool which had me revisit the album again and again.)

    That Rainbow debut is in dire need of a remix to spice it up. For whatever reason, it is one of Martin Birch’s weakest production and engineering jobs. The Elf albums produced by Roger Glover have more sparkle – it’s as if Martin was at a loss of how to really get down Elf on tape.

    That the production didn’t exactly go for your jugular might have also been a reason why Blackmore became disenchanted with the Elf members. At the time, the press blurb was that Blackmore (and, allegedly, Dio) felt that the other members could not cut it live (though that first line-up never performed, the live pics in the gatefold sleeve were from Elf gigs), perhaps it was more a case of Blackmore missing Brit playing grit in the studio. Of course, Rising as the next album had that in spades albeit at the cost of any subtlety, it was all very powellfull …

  10. 10
    MacGregor says:

    Maybe Dio also wanted a change of members regarding the debut ‘Rainbow’ album. The drummer was up against it after hearing Ian Paice for all those years with Purple. Get another drummer & spice it up. The recording of the first album was a new & different scenario that was always going to evolve. It is a wonderful album in many ways, some people I know prefer it to the following Rainbow albums.
    However the MIB was really on fire at that time of his career & Dio would have been chomping at the bit to get serious also, after years of not really going anywhere. The three Dio era Rainbow albums all sound a little poor to my ears, the producing & mixing is average for different reasons. Cheers.

  11. 11
    Uwe Hornung says:

    The first Elf album sounds a little rough (and still formative) to my ears, but by the second and third the production had well perked up and reminded me of the Nazareth albums around that same time (also produced by Glover).

    I thought Elf interesting, they had a Southern Rock touch, yet weren’t Southern Rock, you also heard a lot of rhythm & blues in their music plus Beatlish melodies and harmonies. That they were piano- and not lead guitar-driven in sound set them apart as did the fact that their piano player Mickey Lee Soule was the principal writer together with Dio. So there was a bit of an early Billy Joel/Elton John vibe, but with more oomph.

    LA 59/Carolina Country Ball and Trying To Burn The Sun were all remastered a few years ago – it did them good, the initial Connaisseur release on CD wasn’t great (but it at least made the initially shelved Trying To Burn The Sun available).

    Does everyone know here that Craig Gruber had a longer stint with Black Sabbath while Geezer was AWOL during the preparation for and early recording of Heaven & Hell (the album)? I remember an interview where he said that the telltale lava-slow bass gallop of Heaven & Hell (the song) was actually his idea (and rerecorded by Geezer). This was around the time he was officially with Bible Black. He also mentioned that he got along well with Tony Iommi and that it was great to work with RJD again, but that it was clear that Geezer’s return to the dark fold would end his tenure – as it happened.

    Gruber’s playing on the studio version of Catch The Rainbow

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5QukAC-jqE

    exemplifies nuanced taste, Motown’ish groove and subtlety in my ears. He plays it like the – likewise great – Boz Burrell would have played a Bad Company ballad. Never achieved by any other Rainbow bassist who performed it – whether it was Bain, Daisley or Glover, they all played it rather workmanlike.

    Gruber was also incredibly tight with Driscoll, the drummer, they really gelled as a rhythm section. But in the age of emerging punk rock, I believe Ritchie wanted a less nuanced and more stark musical statement, hence the switch to Powell/Bain as the rhythm section. Let’s nor forget, he wanted to “outrock” DP with his new band – and subsequently painted himself into a commercial corner with that approach.

    As a collection of songs, the Rainbow debut is likely so strong because it contained stuff Blackmore had been holding back and collecting for years. 16th Century Greensleeves, for instance, had already been toyed around with during the latter Mk II days according to Roger. Man On The Silver Mountain with its really nifty chord changes would have been another Purple classic. I would have loved to have heard a Coverdale/Hughes/Lord/Paice treatment of that idea.

  12. 12
    George Martin says:

    I remember when Ronnie joined Sabbath, Craig Gruber was asked at first to play bass because Geezer left feeling the band could not survive with out Ozzy. After Tony played him some of the demos they were working on Geezer wanted back in because it was sounding awesome. According to interviews I’ve heard, Craig wrote the song Die Young which appeared on the Heaven and Hell album. Tony bought it from from him and Craig bought a house with the money. If you listen closely to this song Gone, the bass line reminds you of Die Young.

  13. 13
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Geezer sure had a habit of walking off and back on the Sabbath vessel!

    I remember seeing him even with Ozzy (but outside Sabbath) on the first tour with Zakk Wylde in 1989 in Phoenix, Arizona. That sounded, looked and felt weird. Bob Daisley is really the “right” bassist for Ozzy. For Geezer’s style, a lot of what Ozzy does is simply too poppy, he seemed uncomfortable with it. It only sounded right once they did old Sabbath chestnuts.

    Geezer’s true element is Sabbath/Heaven & Hell where I’ve seen him both with Ozzy und RJD. He’s an integral part of the Sabbath “molten lava ooze”.

  14. 14
    Rock Voorne says:

    Did not see this before.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1xqHrtFprY&ab_channel=sicilianqueenV

    Maybe nice background while reading the thread?

  15. 15
    MacGregor says:

    George @ 12 – I remember the Craig Gruber stories regarding the Heaven & Hell sessions. Wasn’t Geoff Nicholls mentioned also for the odd bass line here & there for those initial sessions? Anyway Geezer was back where he belongs at the end of it all. The big disappointment for me regarding the 1980 tour was that Bill Ward bailed out for health & other reasons. We didn’t know that turning up in Sydney in November for the gig. By the time news floats out to Australia in a bottle found on a beach somewhere, we had no other way of knowing these things in advance. Oh for the want of an electronic communication device eh?
    Uwe @ 13 – yes I remember when Geezer walked from Sabbath, I thought it was after the Cross Purposes tour in 1994 that he linked with Ozzy? I remember reading an interview with Geezer & he made comments regarding Sabbath at that time, of sounding too much like Rainbow, in the sense of commercial song arrangements etc. Something along those lines anyway. He didm’t last long with Ozzy & I always thought he wouldn’t sound right there at the time, not that I listened to O$bourne then. Maybe he played with Ozzy a few different times, I am not sure. Cheers.

  16. 16
    Uwe Hornung says:

    IIRC, the Cross Purposes walkout was Geezer’s third Sabbath departure – the Ozzy stint was when he did his second – that was after the Born Again tour concluded. BS were basically defunct for a few years. the next Sabbath album (without Geezer) was Seventh Star with Glenn which was never intended to be a Sabbath album (and really isn’t). After kicking his feet for a while, Geezer joined the Ozzy camp in 1988 for the No Rest For The Wicked Tour.

    I remember being at the Phoenix gig with my wife and wondering “Who the hell is this bass player? – he looks and sounds like a Geezer clone …”. It was only when Ozzy introduced him by name that the penny dropped, I simply had not expected that anyone from Sabbath – especially not Geezer – would join Ozzy’s merry-go-round of ever-changing line-ups.

    It’s true, Geezer always wanted Sabbath brooding and dark. Yet his favorite track of these fellow Brummies here is a very poppy one, major key chorus and all:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VVFNgbsDC4

  17. 17
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Thanks Rock Voorne, I had no idea that existed! Not bad at all. By that time, Driscoll and Gruber had very much toughened up their rhythm section approach, very NWOBHM-influenced (or dumbed down!).

    That said, Elf at their height were live much heavier than what you would gather from their albums. The audio track here is crap and a distorted mess, but if you’re able to bear it for a while, then that band had quite some clout live (with Driscoll and Nauseef as a drummer duo – very Southern Rock inspired!). You don’t survive as a DP opening act if you don’t.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jec4nGsL2LA

  18. 18
    MacGregor says:

    @ 16 – I had no idea Geezer was in the O$Bourne circus earlier. I only followed Iommi’s riffs so anything to do with the others was not on my radar & also not following Ozzy after Bark at the Moon. Geezer would have only rejoined Sabbath because of Dio I presume, in 1991. I think he reluctantly hung around after the Dehumanizer tour, however I was surprised he did that. On that Cross Purposes live concert VHS he doesn’t look like he is into it at all. He seems to have no time for Iommi’s ‘other’ Sabbath lead ventures. The Born Again tour might have broke the camels back me thinks, in regards to other vocalists in Sabbath apart from Ozzy & Dio. Cheers.

  19. 19
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I could still kick myself for missing out on Sabbath on the Born Again tour when they played Offenbach in 1983. I had to work that evening/night. I love(d) that album. By the accounts of the people who were there, it was a great gig.

    Mind you, in any formation, Sabbath in the 70ies and 80ies were never a draw in Germany of Purple or Zep magnitude. They filled mid-size halls. They only progressed to larger halls come the two Ozzy reunion tours.

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