‘The Eternal Idol’ is the thirteenth studio album by Black Sabbath, released November 23, 1987. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Tony Martin.
The album was originally to be recorded with bassist Dave Spitz and vocalist Ray Gillen. Spitz was replaced by bassist/lyricist Bob Daisley during the initial sessions and Ray Gillen quit shortly after. He later joined the band Blue Murder and then went on to form Badlands with Jake E. Lee and Eric Singer. Tony Martin was hired and he re-recorded the vocals shortly before production ended. Most tracks on the album were written by Tony Iommi and Bob Daisley. Even though Martin’s involvement was minimal on this album he would go on to help write and record four more albums as the vocalist for Black Sabbath.
Drummer Bev Bevan (Electric Light Orchestra) and original Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler were hired to return for the 1987 tour in support of the album, but Butler backed out, upon learning that Sabbath had dates booked in South Africa, forcing keyboardist Geoff Nicholls to step in play bass for a few shows. Bevan would end up departing as well, and was replaced by former The Clash drummer Terry Chimes, who appears in the music video for “The Shining”.
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.
“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 underrated tracks on that album. The album was re-released in November 2010 in Europe as a 2-disc expanded set. Bonus content includes a couple of B-sides and contains the original demo session for the album recorded with Ray Gillen on vocals.