Posts Tagged ‘Bill Ward’

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During their peak in the first half of the 1970s, Black Sabbath set about creating a series of albums that would only grow in stature. And it was with their highly accomplished second album, “Paranoid” where their credentials were solidly double-stamped forever into the heaviest ingot of metal yet to be forged.

And yet, Black Sabbath were beyond metal and in a category all their own. These four young, working class guys from ‘rough, unfashionable Aston in Birmingham, England’ together held one unique chemistry that yielded major thrills of no-frills, downer/lumpen bombast that not only thundered all the world ‘round but continues to do so: leaving in its wake a soundtrack of five insanely powerful albums, dozens of sub-genres and legions of gleeful hard rock enthusiasts and heavy metal aficionados. Although stating the obvious, it is a fact that they remain to the present day responsible for some of the most durable, relevant and unique statements ever carved into Rock.

Sabbath were (and are) still one of the most misunderstood groups in all of Rock. More than any other band of their time, they were a paradox filled with inversions: the inverted cross on the gatefold of their first album, guitarist Tony Iommi’s cherry red Gibson SG a southpaw reverse of Clapton’s psychedelicised one; a so-called ‘Satanic Pop group’ who wrote of compassion, love and dreams while the singer was a baleful messenger perched on the edge of doom with both kneecaps self-tattooed with smileys while the other three ‘Black Princes of Downer Rock’ were down to earth Brummies partial to nothing darker than pints of ale, practical jokes, sitting in the rain to watch Aston Villa football matches whilst being burdened with fearsome nicknames of daemonic possession like ‘Stinky.’ But onstage and on record, what they projected were vocals of life-enhancing woe arcing over a relentless and thorough pounding of riffs set to a solidly swinging beat to make faces grimace, fists to rise on high, the heart beat faster, the head throb harder and the lugholes ring louder (What? I can’t hear you) and one of their best moments was the bludgeon-fest they called “War Pigs.” But it was originally called something else…

aka: “Walpurgis”

Originally, ‘War Pigs’ was called ‘Walpurgis’, about Satan’s Christmas thing, but we had to change the lyrics because all the Satan stuff was going on.” –Geezer Butler

Walpurgisnacht is an ancient celebration that falls on the last eve of April, which renders lyricist Geezer Butler’s use of Walpurgis as a title of a song narrating an event confusing — not least of all because Walpurgis was a Christian abbess born in 710. Travelling from Wessex, England to Germany to take charge of a monastery, she was consequently made a saint in 779 with May 1 accorded her saint day. But reaching further back in time reveals earlier roots of Walpurgisnacht. Deriving its name from the similarly-named Teutonic fertility goddess, Walburga who was celebrated and worshipped in Germany and throughout the Baltic region of Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Sweden, once under the domain of Christianity her previous attributes and symbolic significance as a Northern European White Goddess and The Spring Queen were merged with those of St. Walpurgis.

Errant pronoun usage notwithstanding, Geezer was dialed in to something deeper than just Boris Karloff films and chillums for his taste in literature was more than just a smattering of supernatural paperbacks by Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft and Dennis Wheatley. Goethe’s “Faust” certainly hovered about on in on his bookshelf. In fact, it may have been the single strongest influence on his original concept and lyrics for “Walpurgis.” Dig this:

“The witches t’ward the Brocken strain
When the stubble yellow, green the grain.
The rabble rushes – as ’tis meet –
To Sir Urian’s lordly seat.
O’er stick and stone we come, by jinks!
The witches f—, the he-goat s—…”1

Except for the exclamatory “Oh Lord, yeah!” as punctuation, the translation remains remarkably true to the cadence of “War Pigs” aka “Walpurgis.” Which is appropriate, as the above quote from “Faust” is taken from a scene that occurs on Walpurgisnacht when Mephisto escorts Faust on Der Brocken to consort with a coven of witches.

“Witches Gather at Black Masses…”

“War Pigs” is the first of eight powerful, entirely slackless and perfectly programmed tracks that comprise Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” album. “War Pigs” doesn’t just open their second album so much as split the silence that precedes it down half with a direct hit from the opening bog blast of guitarist Tony Iommi’s Laney amplification up until its instrumental coda crazily speeds up into a wall of silence (unless you’re listening to the Quadrophonic version, of course.) Although constantly shifting in tempo, vocal tone and texturing, “War Pigs” is resolutely focused in fixed defiance throughout its length and was where Black Sabbath laid bare what would be their simplest and most bloodstained indictment, ever. Electrically-charged with myth and atmosphere, the musical backing hangs relentlessly tight and visceral against four bleating stanzas projected from the gob of Oz that switch from opening soaring supplications as though with raised palms faced inwards into a series of perfectly bellowed rant-on sentences and its cumulative effect was a razing declaration on war.

As one of Sabbath’s most compelling and universally themed songs, “War Pigs” began as a piece they’d been working on sporadically in live performance since late 1968. Although the main structure and arrangement remained unchanged since its earliest “Walpurgis” incarnation, the lyrics were an altogether different matter. The opening line “Witches gather at black masses” would endure despite a jumble of permutations and although the narrative runs through a description of a witches’ convocation (with sinners on a hill awaiting Satan’s arrival as “evil doings” ranging from “carrying banners which denounce the Lord” to “eating dead rat’s inners” abound) its location “on a hill, a church in ruins” is but a hint of Der Brocken: the highest peak of Germany’s Harz region best known as the setting of Walpurgisnacht.

When Black Sabbath’s debut album appeared littered with occult references in the lyrics, sleeve photography and (most obvious of all) their own name, several lesser bands followed suit boasting more direct links to black magic, consequently causing a minor sensation in the British music press during early 1970. But as the supernatural mystique foisted upon Black Sabbath became too large an inverted cross to bear, they decided their load would be lightened sizably by jettisoning some of the more provocative occult references from their lyrics. Concerned with their perceived association with black magic and how it could jeopardise their first American tour later in the year, it was unanimously decided by band, management and record company to altogether overhaul the lyrics to “Walpurgis.” Whether inspired by an infamous lapse of the John Osbourne memory banks, a spur of the moment ad-lib off the top of Ozzy’s head or just the thought of having to contend with two sets of lyrics for the same song was enough to make the Mind of O seize up even more than usual — thereby causing the Jovial One to blurt out in a bout of supreme frustration “For fuckssake: ‘Walpurgis,’ ‘Walpiggus,’ ‘Walpurgis,’ ‘Walpiggus’ let’s call the whole thing off and I’ll just sing it in Latin, I can’t be arsed, y’know fuckin’ ‘ell”) is not recorded. Although in those pre-teleprompter days, Ozzy forgetting, adding, dropping, repeating or mixing up lyrics was hardly an uncommon occurrence. Perhaps it was only Geezer sneakily re-arranging the letters on his talking board late one night. But however it happened, it did and although the music and arrangements remained virtually unchanged, the lyrics and title of “Walpurgis” were transformed into “War Pigs.” But it took several months to stay that way.

“…Just Like Witches at Black Masses” 

“I’d get comfortable with the melody line and Geezer or I would write them [the lyrics] in the studio. But other than that, I don’t know where they’re from.” – Ozzy Osbourne

“Listen to me
While I sing this song
You might just think the words are wrong…”
Black Sabbath: “The Writ” (“Sabotage” LP, 1975)

But the newly re-written “War Pigs” did not keep things resolved for long. As both opening track of their forthcoming second album and projected title of said LP, with an important first tour of the United States looming late in the year their record company expressed concern and refused to release it as “War Pigs.” Although it’s never been clear as to which of Sabbath’s labels (Vertigo in Britain or Warner Brothers in America) were responsible for the veto, several causes for rejection would seem to indicate the latter as anti-war sentiment in America had been escalating in tandem with the Vietnam War and a pervading sense of unease and tension had been causing a divisive split throughout the nation for years. Although Sabbath were for the moment out of the satanic frying pan, no one wanted to see them fall outright into the anti-war fire. For as archaic as it now may seem, ‘pig’ was the strongest derogatory slang used at the time to address persons of authority and especially policemen. As well as people of ugly, selfish or greedy bearing, it was also suffixed onto other slang terms like ‘sexist’ or ‘male chauvinist.’ But one association everyone wished to avoid altogether was how “War Pigs” could be misconstrued as an endorsement of the Manson murders of the previous summer where the epitaphs “POLITICAL PIGGIES,” “DEATH TO PIGS” and “PIGS” had been smeared at the gruesome murder sites in the victims’ own blood. At first, the murders were even rumoured to have been the work of a satanic death cult and the sensational image of a long-haired hippie commune on a murderous rampage frightened both the status quo and longhairs alike.

Substituting the potentially offensive title with the safer and more saleable moniker of their forthcoming “Paranoid” single was telling, as it may have also been chosen to reflect the concerned state of the band and record company over the whole affair. Then again, paranoia was a commodity in no short supply in 1970 and Warner Brothers hedged their bets even further with a promotional advertisement that read with the typical hard-sell, tongue-in-cheek “Loss Leaders”-styled copywriting style so beloved of the label: “Black Sabbath is a lot of things — a couple of things they aren’t though, and we and they insist that no one lump them in with witches, warlocks, werewolves or other black magic by-products” (And to think this was the same record company that three years later would vet the cover painting for “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” — one which broke both elbows throwing in the occult kitchen sink all over the front cover.)

War Pigs (Six Different Ones)

A cross-section of six different versions of “War Pigs” illustrates the alterations made to the original “Walpurgis” lyrics during the period of March to November, 1970. Comparing the final studio “War Pigs” lyrics (recorded June, 1970) with those of five live renditions (recorded March, April, June, October and November 1970) highlights immense differences and show the lyrics for “Walpurgis” in a constant state of flux: most notably in the middle pair of up-tempo stanzas that precede the first instrumental break. Instead of beginning with the now familiar “Politicians hide themselves away” and “Time will tell on their power minds” were instead “Carrying banners which denounce the lord” and “Don’t hold me back ‘cos I just gotta go” while the rest of the lyrics also conjured up a pulse quickening mix of unrelated imagery depicting panicked flights of fear underneath ‘Dies Irae’-styled skies set to a high tempo bash. And these lyrics continued to shift wildly from performance to performance for months prior to the American tour.

Konzerthaus, Köln: March 3, 1970

It is fitting that two of the earliest live recordings of “Walpurgis” extant are from gigs in Germany, where the legend of Walpurgisnacht originated. This earliest known recorded version from Köln contains a middle pair of stanzas that go:

“I don’t care if you don’t wanna go
They are the devil in disguise
Carrying banner which denounce the Lord
They are Lucifer inside
(All right, now!)

Look at me, don’t anoint my head with blood
See me burning down [obscured]
Closer and close to you, and you’re not there
Say, what you gonna do now?
(All right, now!)”

And like all versions of “Walpurgis,” the final verse is always a variation of the following:

“On the scene a priest appears
Sinners falling at his knees
Satan sends out funeral pyre
Casts the priest into the fire
It’s the place for all bad sinners
Watch them eating dead rats’ inners
It’s the same where’er you go
Black masses, they’re coming out
(All right, now!)”

BBC, London: April 26th, 1970

Available for a limited time on the second disc of the Ozzy Osbourne compendium “The Ozzman Cometh,” the version of “War Pigs” recorded for the BBC is the highest quality version of “Walpurgis.” The lyrics adhere mainly to the Köln version, except for the ever-changing middle pair of stanzas which are the goriest extant, as well as sharing some of the imagery with the Köln version:

“Carrying banners which denounce the Lord
See me rotting in my grave
See them anoint my head with dead rat’s blood
See them stick the stake through me
(Oh…)

Don’t hold me back ‘cos I just gotta go
Satan got a hold of my soul now
Look in my brain and there was blood and see
Look in my eyes and there I go
(Yeah!)”

Regent Sound Studio & Island Studios, London: circa June 16; 21-25, 1970

Although the dates vary from source to source, it has been loosely determined that the “Paranoid” album was recorded during the period of June 21-25, 1970. Produced by Rodger Bain, here the re-written, ‘de-Walpurgisnacht-ed’ lyrics from “generals gathered in their masses” to “Satan, laughing, spreads his wings” make their earliest known recorded appearance.

Audimax, Freie Universität, Berlin: June 26th, 1970

This gig was promoted with a red and black poster bearing the appropriate legend “LIVE: The Magic of Black Sabbath.” Sabbath blasts into a lumbering and vicious rendition of “Walpurgis.” Directly after the last up-tempo stanza prior to the guitar solo, Iommi makes the only playing error of his career AND winds up saving it by sustaining a single riff that bleeds across several beats as a howling storm. As a massive fan of Iommi, I love it not because it catches him with his pants down, but that even in a pinch his self-assured monochording still could turn a misstep into a fluid, heavy improvisation.

Of note is the third stanza, which varies wildly from all others:

“See me going like my head is gone
See me running down love now
It’s conceived evil, I want to run
I want to know what you’re gonna do now
(Yeah!)”

“Olympia, Paris: December 20, 1970”

Although the famous “Paris 1970” performance of Black Sabbath broadcast on Yorkshire Television has been circulating for decades in collector’s circles, its identifying date and place are still the stuff of speculation. The 2-CD Sabbath “Past Lives” collection not only incompletely collated the performance, but incorrectly listed the place and date as ‘Paris Olympia, December 20, 1970.’ Now in the film it is plain to see the venue is a far smaller hall than the Olympia while the Olympia’s stage was not composed of rough wooden planks. With the faintest of supporting evidence in the form of the film credits comprised mainly of Belgian surnames, the show may very well date from either a day earlier at Vorst Nationaal, Brussels, Belgium or on October 3rd, 1970 from the same city (Although entirely conjecture on my part, anyone with substantiated proof please clue me in.)

But the location and date of this gig do not matter nearly as much as the performance itself for Black Sabbath were captured at the peak of their powers AND on a night when they were totally on (So exactly WHEN is this amazing artifact going to be released?! Clips surfaced from it in the “Ozzy: Don’t Blame Me” retrospective DVD on Sony, and both visual and audio content are PRISTINE. Sanctuary, Sharon, SOMEBODY: please sort this out and SOON as it’s the best Sabbath concert from 1970…or any year for that matter. Then arrange a release schedule for Cal Jam. And the ’75 Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert performance. Before the original tapes deteriorate. Do it…do it…do it…)

Although introduced by Ozzy to zero audience acknowledgment (“We got a number now called ‘War Pigs’, it’s a number off our new LP, hope you like it, thank you”) by the time of the final stanza the audience is blitzed to Hell and clapping along with Bill Ward’s final hi-hat build up like they’ve been banging head to it for years. The version of “War Pigs” performed here may or may not provide a clue as to this performance’s date by pushing it back to the middle of 1970 for as it is the only known recording where stanzas from “Walpurgis” are aligned cheek by jowl with those from “War Pigs”: The second stanza is a merger of both second and third stanzas of “War Pigs,” the third stanza is entirely different to all other known versions while the fourth (and final) stanza is straight up “Walpurgis.” But of all the different takes of “Walpurgis”, this one has gotta take the Beltane carline cake:

“People running like sheep in fields
People blowing out their minds
They’ve got your dying day and know it’s now
They’re gonna rot in the end
(Yeah!)”

Fillmore West, San Francisco, California: November 21, 1970

Sabbath’s anticipated American tour did not get off to the best start. According to a 1992 interview in The Philadelphia Daily News with Rick Green (the promoter of their first U.S. show at Glassboro State College, New Jersey) the band’s passage through customs at Kennedy Airport in New York proved to be “a day-long trauma that left the group tired and humiliated,” causing them to be three and a half hours late for the gig. Finally appearing onstage at 1:00 in the morning, the power to their sound system cut out during the first song. It was fixed within a few minutes, but once they recommenced they caused a second power outage that not only knocked out their sound system but the power to the gymnasium, the campus and “…most of the power in the neighborhood. The street lights were out and there was darkness.” Appropriately enough, the date was Mischief Night: exactly half a year away from Walpurgisnacht on October 30th.

Three weeks later, they reached the Fillmore West in San Francisco and the lyrics to “War Pigs” were faithfully reproduced by Ozzy as per the album (except for the word ‘man’s’ used in place of ‘death’s’ in “Sorcerers of death’s construction…” but seeing as Ozzy even managed to derail “War Pigs” four years later at Cal Jam by repeating the “In the fields the bodies burning…” couplet in the last stanza, it was probably due more to Osbourne’s lackadaisical temperament than any sort of nervous decorum.)
Luckily, the rest of the tour ran smoothly for the band and helped establish their reputation as a top new export of high volume, energy-driven Rock that would continue to grow throughout the 1970s. And ever since that first American tour, “War Pigs” never once reverted back to “Walpurgis” with its best-known lyrics on the “Paranoid” album striking — and continues to strike — a chord up to the present day.

Oh Lord, yeah!

As a 36 year-old album, the iconic power of the “Paranoid” sleeve generally deflects objective visual judgment and criticism. But when viewed under various circumstances for nearly three decades (as I have) one can switch between how stunning AND how ludicrous it is. It was recently mentioned to me that if “Paranoid” had somehow turned out to be a musically weak dud, the derision poured on its cover sleeve would probably equal or surpass even that of the first Toe Fat album. This is not to lay blame at the doorstep of Keef (the gifted photographer whose work adorned not only “Paranoid” but many of Sabbath’s early albums as well as a wide swath of many other early Vertigo releases) for the sleeve art had already been photographed with the projected “War Pigs” title in mind. But riddle me this: what the fuck does a shot of a bearded man wielding a fluorescent blue plastic samurai sword and shield wearing blue undies over pink tights sporting a crash helmet and sash rushing out from behind a late night copse have ANYTHING to do with “generals gathered in their masses”?! It’s enough to almost make me think “Fairies Wear Boots” may have also been under consideration as a provisional title but promptly abandoned when it was discovered that the American audience would be oblivious of its British meaning and lurking entendre. Almost.

But on other occasions the cover falls completely in place: glimpsing or hallucinating something out of the corner of your eye emerging from the darkness is a pretty solid visual metaphor for paranoia. But at other times, the collective visual dissonance of the title, the photography and the mid-sixties Yardbirds-a-go-go-logo all conspire to make it look a little out of time, definitely odd, completely ridiculous, not a little mysterious and in a paradoxical dum-dum zone all its own.

…A lot like Black Sabbath, come to think of it.

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Black Sabbath final tour, appropriately titled The End. After Ozzy went solo in 1979, there was no reason to think that these guys would ever be on stage together again. The 1985 Live Aid set and Ozzy’s 1992 Costa Mesa concert encore whet fans’ appetites for an inevitable reunion that’s lasted fitfully since 1997. Now, following the 2013 release of their career benchmark album,13,

There were heavy bands before Sabbath. Cream, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge, and The Who were all on the scene well before Earth changed its name to Black Sabbath in 1969. But none bore the intent and follow-through of the boys from Birmingham. There are not many acts from the Sixties that have avoided the death of at least one of its founding members. People are now calling The Who, Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones didn’t even make it to the 4th of July in ’69. Only two Beatles remain. The last band anyone would have expected to survive is Black Sabbath.

Sabbath had already recorded its first album of horror-inflected doom* on October 16th. By September of 1970, the second album was out, with themes of paranoia, war, and drug abuse trumping any fancies that peace and love would conquer this brave new world. When the eponymous Black Sabbath album came out on Friday the 13th of February 1970, it was genuinely scary. People left the room when they heard the rain, the church bells, and the ultimate riff. No matter what has come since, nothing has ever been this heavy, produced in a world so utterly unprepared.

Led Zeppelin were the players, but Sabbath were no slouches. This was largely based on myth and the ill-considered release Live At Last. Sabbath weren’t bad musicians But listen to the playing even on their debut. It’s on par with any band short of King Crimson. Geezer is the missing link between Paul McCartney and Steve Harris. Tony’s leads come direct from the source. Ozzy sounds like he was gargling hot honey, and Bill Ward’s chops will make you want to cry. They were a devastating unit then, and they still are today. Bands no longer apprentice themselves like they did in the Sixties. Black Sabbath used to play seven 45-minute sets a night during its residency at the Star Club in Hamburg. Sabbath played more gigs at the Star Club than the Beatles,

After Ozzy was given the boot in 1979 for a lot of really bad behavior, general ennui, and epic levels of alcoholism, Ronnie James Dio came into the fold. The Rainbow singer was everything Ozzy wasn’t: professional, pitch-perfect, a lyricist, and American. Dio made four studio albums with Sabbath, the fourth and heaviest being 2009’s The Devil You Know under the band name Heaven & Hell. When Dio first split from Sabbath after Mob Rules, Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan was brought in to sing on the 1983 Spinal Tap-esque rave up Born Again. And when Dio refused to sing for Sabbath as an opening act at the aforementioned 1992 Costa Mesa gig, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford stepped in to offer some metal god-level pipes to the party. “I’m not doing that.” Dio said, quoted in Iommi’s Iron Man autobiography.

we all know that Sharon will flog Ozzy back onto the road as soon as she’s able, but this was the last proper tour for Sabbath. Maybe they’ll record again. Maybe there will be a farewell show or three. Maybe we’ll even see them kiss and make up with Bill Ward once and for all. But with the contracts signed, Iommi’s ongoing battle with cancer, and all of the guys pushing 70, this tour is the last chance to see three of the founding members of Black Sabbath on tour together.  If you’ve ever made it to the end of “Dear Father”–the last song on 13—you know that it ends right where the band started.

Альбом 13 получил премию Classic Rock Awards — Roll of Honour в номинации «Альбом года» (Album Of The Year). Помимо этого, группа получила премии в номинациях «Событие года» (Event Of The Year) и «Живая легенда» (Living Legends)[104]. Альбом и песня из него «God Is Dead» были номинированы на получение премии «Грэмми»[105] в номинациях: Лучшее исполнение (Best Metal Performance) Лучшая рок-песня (Best Rock Song) Лучший рок-альбом (Best Rock Album)

Black Sabbath will release a 4-disc deluxe edition of their classic 2nd album Paranoid, featuring alternative mix and live tracks. Black Sabbath have announced a four-disc super deluxe edition of their 1970 second album Paranoid.

It’ll launch on November 11th and is being released to coincide with the band’s final run of live dates on their The End tour, which is scheduled to wrap up in February with two dates in their hometown of Birmingham.

The Paranoid package will include the 2012 remaster of the original album, along with a rare 1974 stereo quad mix. In addition, the set will include two live performances from 1970 in Montreux and Brussels.

It’ll also feature a hardbound book with extensive liner notes, photos, memorabilia, a poster and a replica of the tour book sold during the Paranoid run of shows that year.

It’ll also include new interviews with Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward.

Initially released in 1970, Paranoid featured classic Black Sabbath tracks War Pigs, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, Fairies Wear Boots and the title track, which reached no.4 in the UK singles charts and no.61 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

The Paranoid Super Deluxe Edition is available for pre-order via Amazon.

It may have been released 46 years ago, but Black Sabbath’s second album has lost none of its unearthly power

Rat Salad

By Sabbath standards, Rat Salad is little more than a throwaway instrumental, but by most other bands’ standards it’s pretty fucking great. 150 seconds of spiralling riffs and muscular oomph, it makes up the numbers on Paranoid to some degree, but still more than justifies its presence on this classic album by demonstrating just how fiery and exhilarating the young Brummies were by this point. Perhaps more interestingly, it has yet to be confirmed whether any of the band have ever actually eaten a rat salad. It doesn’t sound very appetising, but then they were out of their minds on drugs at the time and anything’s possible when the munchies kick in.

Paranoid

Dashed off as a last-minute filler for Sabbath’s second album, Paranoid may not have ever been intended as an immortal anthem for the ages, but that’s what it has indubitably become. As humble as its birth was, it’s a textbook example of a classic heavy rock song: short, to the point, laden with hooks and performed with the kind of urgency and vitality that only young bands with big dreams and tons of confidence can muster. The fact that it’s only the seventh best song on Paranoid is testament to the mind-bending quality of the rest of the album, rather than a criticism of the song itself. Everyone loves Paranoid.

Electric Funeral

It’s an obvious truth that he entire doom metal scene owes its collective arse to Black Sabbath, and to songs like Electric Funeral in particular. Crushing, sinister and wonderfully weird, this is a song that still sounds like the end of the world slithering towards us (and given the state of the planet at this point, we deserve nothing less). Lyrics like ‘Robot minds of robot slaves lead them to atomic rage’ and ‘Earth lies in death bed/Clouds cry water dead’ ensure that the apocalyptic vibe is virtually chewable throughout, and the way that Sabbath switch from debilitating dirge to bursts of nimble, mutant blues fury still has the power to take the breath away. May all our funerals be this electric.

Planet Caravan

They may have struck fear into the hearts of polite, Christian folk everywhere with their evil riffs and uncontrollable facial hair, but Black Sabbath were hippies at heart and Planet Caravan remains their finest ever attempt to tap into the woozy bliss of psychedelia. Satan only knows how much weed was smoked during the recording, but seldom has the notion of drifting blearily through the cosmos with one’s true love ever been so vividly evoked. And while Sabbath’s biggest and most seminal contribution to metal remains Tony Iommi’s riffs, the fact that Pantera covered this song on 1994’s Far Beyond Driven proves that Sabbath’s subtle side has had an undeniably enduring effect on the evolution of heavy music too.

Hand Of Doom

Another song that has been utterly essential in inspiring the doom metal legions, Hand Of Doom is obscenely heavy in every respect: the riffs, of course, are pulverising but it’s the lyrics that make this such a bruising seven-minute crawl through unimaginable horror. Inspired by the drug-ravaged disintegration of US soldiers returning from the Vietnam war, it’s a sustained litany of nightmarish observations set to one of the band’s most ingenious arrangements: ‘Push the needle in/Face death’s sickly grin/Holes are in your skin/Caused by deadly pin’… come on, it doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Extra points for the phrase ‘deadly pin’, which may well have saved a few people from dying in freak sewing accidents.

Fairies Wear Boots

Fairies don’t exist, so their footwear is hardly a matter for sensible discussion, but when you’re in the midst of Paranoid’s mesmerising closing track, it wouldn’t take much to make you believe and head straight for the nearest branch of Foot Locker to do some research on miniature clogs. That aside, Fairies Wear Boots is still a staple in Sabbath’s live sets, and with good reason: this song swings like a megalodon’s ballbag and deftly combines pounding blues rock vibes with a strong sense of pot-addled euphoria that reaches an almost comical peak when Ozzy sings ‘Smokin’ and trippin’ is all that you do!’, thus summing up Black Sabbath’s recreational itinerary with laudable precision. As an added bonus, this is one of the few heavy metal songs that features a dancing dwarf.

Iron Man

One of Tony Iommi’s greatest skills is to write riffs that are as easy to sing along with as the songs’ vocal parts. Whenever the band play Iron Man live, everyone goes apeshit, despite the fact that this is one of Sabbath’s heaviest, slowest and most unashamedly lumbering anthems. Geezer Butler’s lyrics were apparently inspired by Ozzy Osbourne’s observation that the song’s main riff sounded like “a big iron bloke walking about”, which is both brilliant and daft. However, there’s nothing daft about the timeless might of the band’s ensemble performance: this is the sound of heavy metal being forged in real time; immense, unstoppable, ageless and devastating.

War Pigs

46 years on, War Pigs is still one of the most ridiculously thrilling songs ever performed by human beings. You don’t have to be aware of all the noted artists and bands that have covered it – ranging from Faith No More’s straight but scintillating version from The Real Thing through to quirky art punks Alice Donut’s trombone-led demolition on 1990’s Revenge Fantasies Of The Impotent – to see how fundamental this epic and grandiose eruption of heavy, heavy thunder is to just about everything we hold dear in the metal world.

War Pigs is simply part of metal’s sonic DNA, from its bewildering succession of colossal riffs to Geezer Butler’s powerful anti-war lyrics, delivered with youthful aplomb by Ozzy Osbourne: it’s a towering template for intelligent, rampaging heaviness that still sends shivers down the spine of most sensible listeners. And yes, Geezer did rhyme ‘masses’ with ‘masses’, but so what? It’s War Pigs. It rules (and those words do rhyme, let’s face it).

Image result for paranoid single cover

Paranoid is the second studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath. Released in September 1970, it was the band’s only album release to top the UK Albums Chart until the release of 13 in 2013. Paranoid contains several of the band’s signature songs, , Paranoid the single was the band’s only Top 20 hit, reaching number 4 in the UK charts. It is often regarded as one of the most quintessential and influential albums in heavy metal history. Vertigo’s eagerness to capitalise on the success of Sabbath’s debut album, putting the band back in the studio for a follow-up. That record, initially titled War Pigs but changed at the last minute to Paranoid,

46 years ago today Black Sabbath released their single ‘Paranoid’ taken from their second studio album.  The album features some of the band’s best-known signature songs, including the title track, ‘Iron Man’ and ‘War Pigs’. The album was originally titled War Pigs, but allegedly the record company changed it to Paranoid, fearing backlash from supporters of the ongoing Vietnam War. Watch Black Sabbath perform the iconic riff fueled/drum filled “Fairies Wear Boots” off Paranoid live in 1970.

Tony Iommi: The producer said, “We haven’t got enough songs. We need another three minutes.” So Paranoid was made up there and then. It was just a throwaway thing. While everybody popped out for a bite to eat, I came up with this riff.

Geezer Butler laughs as he tells the story of how he and Ozzy both refused to play the song Paranoid when Tony Iommi originally came up with the riff.

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“It was right at the end of recording the second album, which was going to be called War Pigs,” he recalls. “We were short on material, and Tony just kind of came up with the riff on the spot. But Ozzy and I thought it was too close to Communication Breakdown by Led Zeppelin. We always loved Zeppelin in them days, sitting round on the floor smoking dope and listening to that first album.

“So when Tony came up with the riff to Paranoid me and Ozzy spotted it immediately and went: ‘Naw, we can’t do that!’ In fact we ended up having quite a big argument about it. Guess who was wrong? The fact that it became such a big hit for us – and is now probably our best known song

Ozzy Osbourne: I remember going home and I said to my then-wife, “I think we’ve written a single.” She said, “But you don’t write singles.” I said, “I know, but this has been driving me nuts on the train all the way back.”

Bill Ward: It was about 1:30 in the afternoon and Tony had the riffs. By 2:00 we had Paranoid exactly as you hear it on the record.

Recorded at Regent Sound Studios and Island Studios in, London

Black Sabbath line-up

Black Sabbath have announced a four-disc super deluxe edition of their 1970 second album Paranoid.

It’ll launch on November 11th and is being released to coincide with the band’s final run of live dates on their The End tour, which is scheduled to wrap up in February with two dates in their hometown of Birmingham.

The Paranoid package will include the 2012 remaster of the original album, along with a rare 1974 stereo quad mix. In addition, the set will include two live performances from 1970 in Montreux and Brussels.

It’ll also feature a hardbound book with extensive liner notes, photos, memorabilia, a poster and a replica of the tour book sold during the Paranoid run of shows that year.

It’ll also include new interviews with Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward.

Initially released in 1970, Paranoid featured classic Black Sabbath tracks War Pigs, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, Fairies Wear Boots and the title track, which reached no.4 in the UK singles charts and no.61 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

The Paranoid Super Deluxe Edition is available for pre-order via Amazon.

Black Sabbath in 1970

So how loud was it inside the Record Plant — then located near the corner of 3rd Street and La Cienega Boulevard as Black Sabbath recorded basic tracks, all in the same room, for “Vol. 4″, the only album the band’s original lineup ever recorded in Los Angeles?

“I think that question might be a little difficult for me because I’m on cans, on headphones, while we’re tracking. But I’m sure we played pretty fucking loud,” says drummer Bill Ward with a laugh. “I would walk into the studio when Tony was doing his [guitar] overdubs and man, it’s just like holy fucking shit, really loud. And that’s just doing overdubs. Or Geezer. The [speaker] cabs are flying, man, there’s no doubt about it.”

After recording their first three brilliant, heavy-metal-pioneering albums in England, in spring 1972 Black Sabbath  Ward, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne  were living in a rented Bel-Air mansion while working on the follow-up to their 1971 disc, “Master of Reality”.

This was the band’s most experimental music yet. The piano balladry of “Changes.” An orchestra on the haunting coke paean “Snowblind.” Cuban rhythmic influences on “Supernaut,” a track with such an infectious, powerful groove it “was one of John Bonham’s favorite songs, actually,” Ward says. And of course Sabbath’s hallmark mix of savage guitars, jazz-gone-wild rhythmic counterpoint and Osbourne’s eerie, melodic vocals.

“We had been working literally non-stop,” says Ward, a total English gentleman who now lives in Seal Beach. “At that point we’d been on the road I think for probably about four years and we hadn’t stopped. We’d visited L.A. when we played concerts here and all of us liked Los Angeles. We felt it was pretty laid-back here, so we probably were attracted to the fact it was a much slower pace here and we could actually relax.”

“Relax” might not be the best word for Sabbath’s activities at the mansion, which Ward recalls as being in a colonial style with a white exterior. The address of the mansion was 773 Stradella Road. The Du Pont family once lived there, and Charlie’s Angels sexpot Jaclyn Smith would call it home several years later.

It’s no secret the band consumed Scarface-like piles of powder and other substances at the time, resulting in the kind of mirth ’70s rock bands specialized in. “There was one point where Ozzy had spray-painted my private parts,” Ward remembers. “And then I read on the spray paint it was poisonous and do not apply to the skin, so in fear of my private parts, I panicked and went kind of crazy.” (Osbourne, in his 2010 memoir I Am Ozzy, wrote that it was Iommi who spray-painted Ward’s junk.)

“We’d play all kinds of stupid pranks and things like that. That’s when the band was great,” Ward continues. “I’m not saying the band’s not great now, but there was truly a lot of camaraderie and a lot of really, really good stuff at that time period.”

The contrast of SUV-squashing riffs and intricate rhythms makes some of Vol. 4’s most enduring cuts, like “Wheels of Confusion” and “Tomorrow’s Dream,” particularly powerful. Ward’s groove on “Snowblind” is strikingly panther-like and patient, particularly on a song about cocaine. For the Vol. 4 sessions, the drummer used a mix-and-match kit made up of specifically selected Slingerland, Ludwig and Hayman drums, including double 26-inch bass drums.

“Tony Iommi once told me that in order to be truly heavy, you also need to lighten it up because when you get heavy again, it makes it all the more impactful,” says That Metal Show and Sirius/XM radio host, author and renowned heavy metal expert Eddie Trunk. “I think with Vol. 4 you start to see some signs of the variety and dynamics. No place further than with a song like ‘Changes,’ which was a tremendous turn for the band and still holds up incredibly well. It’s really a dynamic record that shows a lot more was going on with Black Sabbath than just these brutally heavy riffs.”

Released in September 1972, Vol. 4 also features one of Black Sabbath’s most iconic album covers: a yellow-monochrome image of Ozzy, wearing one of the fringed shirts he favored for years, his arms extended in a peace sign. Says Trunk, “I got to say, it’s always a flag to me when a band that I love more prominently features one member on the cover than anyone else. You’re saying to yourself, ‘Wow is this just one guy’s band?’”

Trunk places Vol. 4 within the top three of the classic lineup Sabbath LPs, up with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and of course Paranoid. Interestingly, he discovered the band through 1981’s Heaven and Hell, the group’s first disc with Ronnie James Dio as singer, and eventually worked his way backward into the Ozzy-era catalog, beginning with the compilation We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Calling from his New Jersey home office, Trunk notes that while Vol. 4 contains songs like “Supernaut” considered classics by connoisseurs, “You don’t really have … that across-the-board smash hit. ‘Snowblind’ may be my favorite track on the record because it’s just got that great groove and slams in with that killer riff, and they’re singing about something that, at the time, was very near and dear to their heart.”

During their Vol. 4 period, when not tracking at the Record Plant or getting debauched at the Stradella Road manse, Ward says Sabbath would “just hang out with some of the heads in the Valley and get high, and we went to Laguna [Beach] to get high as well. Back then, for me there was nothing like dropping some windowpane [LSD] and just letting the surf roll in, you know? Just listening to everybody on the beach.” The influence of those blurry, bucolic beach trips can be heard on Iommi’s string-swathed instrumental “Laguna Sunrise.” “It’s a credit to Tony he was able to write this incredible melody and these incredible guitar parts which actually completely summarized Laguna,” Ward says.”It just couldn’t have fit it any better, man.”

Black Sabbath onstage in 1976.

Ward, who has been sober for years now, says Black Sabbath’s Los Angeles days were super-indulgent for everyone in the band. When it was time to cut tracks, he did so with a clear head, “but when the sessions were winding down, I used to wind up. We used to have a lot of people in the back getting high. A lot of naked people. It was just sex, drugs and rock & roll; that’s what it was like back then, so when I look back at it now it’s like, ‘Wow, fucking hell. Did we really do that?’” He laughs. “All the debauchery that actually brought me to my knees. It took a few more years, but it actually brought me to a place where I had to seriously, seriously look at changing my life.”

Black Sabbath originally wanted to title their fourth album Snowblind. But after the band’s U.S. label, Warner Bros., balked at naming not just a song but an entire LP after cocaine, Sabbath shifted on a whim to Vol. 4, possibly at the suggestion of road manager Spock Wall.

Ward says Wall also played a key role in getting drum and guitar sounds on the record, Sabbath’s first without producer Rodger Bain. Although the band’s then-manager Patrick Meehan was credited as co-producer on Vol. 4, Ward recalls the band self-producing and that “I felt a lot of detachment from Patrick.”

Black Sabbath’s 1970 self-titled debut remains Ward’s favorite of the band’s LPs. But he listened to spiraling Vol. 4 track “Cornucopia” less than 24 hours before this interview, and frequently plays the track on his monthly Internet radio show, Rock 50.

Alas, Ward is not behind the drum kit for the group’s (allegedly) final “The End Tour.” The band previously embarked on a farewell tour in 1999. Ward has said the split goes back to an unfavorable contract he was presented with before sessions for Sabbath’s 13 album, recorded in late 2012 and 2013. Osbourne has said Ward was out of shape. Tommy Clufetos, from Osbourne’s solo band, will be on drums when Sabbath performs at the Forum on Feb. 11th.

Some accounts say Sabbath made a stab at also recording their next album, 1973’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, in Los Angeles, but Ward says no such recording sessions ever happened. “I’m sure we had plenty of riffs and ideas; that certainly wasn’t uncommon. But it was time for a change and that’s when we went and did Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in a castle in England. I think it might have been time to shake out the party that we’d been in and come back and really get into some focused, damp weather music.”

Ozzy Osborne turns 67 today!
What would metal be without its own Prince of Darkness, or without Black Sabbath? Despite (or perhaps because of) his wild antics, his time fronting Black Sabbath and his solo work helped develop the world of heavy metal, and for that we thank him. Happy birthday, Ozzy! Hope it’s a happy and healthy one.

Blacksabbaththeend
After starting nearly five decades ago with a crack of thunder, a distant bell ringing and a monstrous riff that shook the earth.  The heaviest rock sound ever heard, and at that moment Heavy Metal music was born, created by a young band from Birmingham, England barely out of their teens.
The greatest Metal Band of all time, Black Sabbath Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. Bill Ward close the final chapter in the final volume of the incredible BLACK SABBATH story.
BLACK SABBATH’s farewell tour, THE END, begins on January 20, 2016 and it promises to surpass all previous tours with their most mesmerizing production ever.
When this tour concludes, it will truly be THE END, THE END of one of the most legendary bands in Rock ‘n Roll history…  BLACK SABBATH