Category: Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

ARTIST: Black Sabbath                            220px-Black_Sabbath_SbS

TITLE:  Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #11 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: A National Acrobat, Spiral Architect

LINEUP: Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward. Rick Wakeman (!) plays on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Continuing their trend of experimenting with other motifs, Sabbath breaks out the synths, a prog musician, and strings.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The beginning riff, and the outro, is Sabbath gold. Tony Iommi broke out of his writers block with those riffs, and today they inspire guitarists everywhere.

And a few of the following seven tracks, such as “A National Acrobat” and “Spiral Architect” are heavy and worthy as well. Though “Spiral Architect” really could have been a Moody Blues song if it wasn’t so riffy. “Sabbra Cadabra” has a swing that’s not usually found with the group and the use of Rick Wakeman on synths and piano add a lot to it.

But…not everything works. Ozzy’s synth doodlings aren’t clever or revealing. Iommi’s acoustic piece feels like it’s repeating the others he’s done, and they just don’t seem that into some of the songs. The production seems a bit unheavy as well – it’s missing something.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Cardigans (!) covered “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: B: It’s a record with “A” material and “C” material (or “C-“ to be honest).

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath Vol. 4

ARTIST: Black Sabbath 220px-black_sabbath_vol-_4

TITLE:  Black Sabbath, Vol. 4

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #13 US, #8 UK

SINGLES: Tomorrow’s Dream

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Supernaut, Snowblind

LINEUP:  Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Sludgy as normal, but Sabbath tries to extend themselves and it doesn’t quite work all of the time. Plus, cocaine. 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: They originally wanted to call this album Snowblind, but the record company demurred. That would have been appropriate.

There was some traditional Sabbath sludge, a groundbreaking cut in “Supernaut”, the requisite Tony Iommi instrumental (this time with strings and mellotron) and then a couple of cuts that really could have been left on the floor, including (sorry folks) “Changes” which is a weepy, maudlin ballad that could have been recorded by Climax or Leo Sayer.

They tried to extend themselves a bit with tracks like “Snowblind” and “Cornucopia”, which were halfway successful. The excesses showed when they thought “Fx” was cool to put on the album. That’s a minute and a half you won’t get back.

Trim out a couple of cuts and it’s a fine record with great riffs. But I must take those two tracks into consideration.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded this in LA, basically self-produced, and basically went through a ton of cocaine and other drugs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B: Some great cuts but the weakest one yet.

Black Sabbath – Master of Reality

ARTIST: Black Sabbath                                     220px-Black_Sabbath_-_Master_of_Reality

TITLE:  Master of Reality

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #8 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: After Forever, Children of the Grave, Sweet Leaf

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Into the Void

LINEUP: Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A Sabbath album marked by the detuning of guitars down, making the sound more sinister.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After writing a song about the horrors of heroin on their second album, Sabbath starts off this record with an ode to marijuana, beginning with a cough on a tape loop before plowing into a classic Tony Iommi riff.

This is darker sounding than their previous albums, mainly due to the guitar sound. The subject matter is on par, with religion, drugs, the occult, you know, the usual Sabbath subjects. It seems slighter, though, with two instrumental transitional pieces and “Solitude”, which is another mellow oddity from the band.

“Children of the Grave” is the classic cut of all of the cuts here, and you can tell that Blondie copped a few ideas for “Call Me” based on this, whether they want to admit it or not. The religious got all up in their business as well because “After Forever” mentioned seeing the pope on the end of a rope – not realizing that lyricist Geezer Butler was Catholic.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original vinyl release had the title in embossed black printing. Also, in the US, several songs have subtitiles, but those are really superfluous.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Outtakes and early versions.

GRADE: A-: This seems to be padded a bit, but there’s some solid, solid sludgy goodness here

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

ARTIST: Black Sabbath                  220px-Black_Sabbath_-_Paranoid

TITLE:  Paranoid

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #12 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Paranoid (#61 US, #4 UK), War Pigs, Iron Man, Fairies Wear Boots

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Electric Funeral, Hand of Doom.

LINEUP: Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Building from their first album, Black Sabbath releases their magnum opus, an album full of great riffs and doomy lyrics.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Most of this album is in the vernacular of every rock-and-roll fan. Who hasn’t air guitared to “Paranoid” or “Iron Man”? From a debut album that was plagued by mindless noodling on the second side, the lads from Birmingham release a tight album that cuts down on the showing off and gives us the goods.

The lyrics, mostly from bassist Geezer Butler, address war, desolation, isolation, drug abuse and the state of mind of the left behind. Ozzy puts everything he has into the vocals, and the band isn’t that far behind. Tony Iommi’s guitar is on point this time, while Butler’s bass carries and grounds the songs. Bill Ward’s drumming is also among his best.

The divisive song on here is “Planet Caravan”, but Sabbath always had an ear for a softer and spookier sound. Even the cut that’s an excuse for a drum solo is tight and focused.

If you don’t have this album, you need it. It’s Heavy Metal 101.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Paranoid” was famously written on the spot, in the studio, to fill three minutes. Many of the other riffs were taken from jams when they had to fill a LOT of time on stage when they first performed.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes a set with the Quad mix and alternate takes.

GRADE: A+: I dig the weird one, and even think the one for the drum solo is decent. The rest there’s no question about.

 

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

ARTIST: Black Sabbath 220px-Black_Sabbath_debut_album
TITLE: Black Sabbath
YEAR RELEASED: 1970
CHART ACTION: #23 US, #8 UK
SINGLES: Evil Woman (UK version) / Wicked World (US Version)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Black Sabbath (at the least)
LINEUP: Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Patient zero for British Heavy Metal.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I can only imagine the old hippies’ reactions when they played the first side of this record. Sure, they heard Blue Cheer’s first album. Iron Butterfly, and Vanilla Fudge (among others). But this, this combined the heavy sound with a forboding presence and doomy tuning. In short, It was pretty much what those other proto-metal bands were leading towards.

The first side of this at least.

There’s no doubt that side one (“Black Sabbath”, “The Wizard”, “Behind the Wall of Sleep”, “NIB”) is one of the best debut sides ever – even with the cheesy harmonica in “The Wizard”. Then you flip it over – and the first cut is one of the sides of their single (depending on if you were in the US or UK), and then, a long medley.

The actual song part of the medley (“Sleeping Village” and “Warning” – a cover of an Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation song that you need to check out), and one of the guitar tangents in betwixt them are pretty neat. Yet, there are a couple of points during that medley where Iommi just goes off into dreary wheedly-wheedly-whee solo land. Mindless guitar solos are just as bad as mindless drum solos, and it takes all the momentum out of that last track.

Still, this is a powerful debut, but that last medley is too long and the guitar solos during it way too unfocused to be a out-and-out classic – an issue with many Sabbath albums – where they just have one or two elements that stop the record dead cold.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally, the US pressing credited the players as: Anthony Iommi, John Osbourne, Terence Butler and William Ward. Those are some rock and roll names, eh?

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Versions exist with both sides of the single, and some additional cuts appended.

GRADE: B+: If it weren’t for a couple, three minutes of mindless guitar solo….