Posts Tagged ‘Ozzy Osbourne’

Almost five decades ago, the toll of a bell and rolling thunder marked the conception of an ear splittingly monolithic riff. In that moment, Black Sabbath and the sound of Heavy Metal were forged. The band embarked on what Ozzy describes as “the most incredible adventure you could think of”, a journey that would go on to define a genre.

Black Sabbath performing “N.I.B.” live for the very last time.

“The End” is a celebration of Black Sabbath’s final hometown concert at Birmingham’s Genting Arena on 4th February, 2017. This unforgettable farewell show from one of the biggest bands in the world will be released by Eagle Vision on 17th November 2017.

“To bring it all back home after all these years was pretty special,” Black Sabbath said in a statement. “It was so hard to say goodbye to the fans, who’ve been incredibly loyal to us through the years. We never dreamed in the early days that we’d be here 49 years later doing our last show on our home turf.”

“We’re definitely finishing in Birmingham,” he said. “We’re not going to re-form after five years and say, “Because of public demand  …” Black Sabbath has been up and down and ’round the mulberry bush so many times.”

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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).

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.”

One of the most venerated guitarists ever to grace hard rock music, the late, great Randy Rhoads, will be celebrated in the truest of fashions with the release of IMMORTAL RANDY RHOADS – THE ULTIMATE TRIBUTE. A collection of 11 classic Rhoads co-written songs, IMMORTAL RANDY RHOADS – THE ULTIMATE TRIBUTE  is performed by twenty top contemporary artists, including old friends and performing partners Rudy Sarzo and Frankie Banali, and was produced & compiled by the Grammy-award winning guitarist and producer Bob Kulick at his own studio.

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A lover of classical music, Rhoads had taken initial steps into rock’n’roll as a 16 year old when he formed a band, that soon became Quiet Riot. Rhoads was vaulted to the limelight in 1979 when Ozzy Osbourne chose the relatively unknown guitarist to help shape a new future for him via his band, Blizzard of Oz. The result saw Rhoads co-script two of the most famous albums in hard rock history, Blizzard Of Oz and Diary of A Madman, and rapidly ascended the stairway of fame and recognition for his virtuoso playing and writing. Famed for the way he fused classical flavors with technically-excellent hard rock, Rhoads became one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock. When he tragically died on March 19th 1982 in a plane accident, Rhoads was only 25 years old, but thankfully, the legend of his work, ethos and their continuing influence on a whole new generation of guitarists, has never dimmed.

Along with the CD, IMMORTAL RANDY RHOADS – THE ULTIMATE TRIBUTE, will also contain a bonus DVD, including a feature on the Musonia School of Music, a teaching school on North Hollywood, California, set up by Randy’s mother and run by his brother Kelle Rhoads.

TRACK LISTING:

01    Crazy Train (feat. Serj Tankian, Tom Morello, Rudy Sarzo, Vinny Appice)
02    Over the Mountain (feat. Ripper Owens, Jon Donais, Rudy Sarzo, Frankie Banali)
03    Mr Crowley (feat. Kelle Rhoads, Chuck Billy, Alexi Laiho, Rudy Sarzo, Vinny Appice)
04    Suicide Solution (feat. Ripper Owens, Brad Gillis, Rudy Sarzo, Brett Chassen)
05    I Don’t Know (feat. Ripper Owens, George Lynch, Rudy Sarzo, Brett Chassen)
06    Flying High Again (feat. Ripper Owens, Bernie Torme, Rudy Sarzo, Brett Chassen)
07    Goodbye to Romance (feat. Ripper Owens, Gus G, Rudy Sarzo, Brett Chassen)
08    Back To The Coast (feat. Kelle Rhoads, Bruce Kulick, Rudy Sarzo, Frankie Banali)
09    Killer Girls (feat. Ripper Owens, Joel Hoekstra, Rudy Sarzo, Brett Chassen)
10    Believer (feat. Ripper Owens, Doug Aldrich, Rudy Sarzo, Vinny Appice)
11    S A T 0 (feat. Ripper Owens, Bob Kulick, Dweezil Zappa, Rudy Sarzo, Vinny Appice)