Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Led Zeppelin of Southern Rock. Some of you may remember earlier in 2021 when I did my Lynyrd Skynyrd review project. One thing I wanted to review for it, but didn’t was a lost concert film. Footage of the concert made up the bulk of the 1996 film, Freebird…The Movie. In April 2021, the entire concert got released as a CD/Blu-Ray pack. Lynyrd Skynyrd: Live at Knebworth ‘76. It’s the complete Skynyrd set from August 21, 1976 at the Knebworth day-long festival in Knebworth, England. The 11-song, hour and eight-minute set, revered as one of the greatest shows Skynyrd played and a true classic, final after all these years received a proper release. Yes, classic. A true classic. Like, top-rated, top-shelf, all-time favorite.
Album Review: Black Sabbath (1970) Paranoid (1970) Master of Reality (1971) Vol. 4 (1972) Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) Sabotage (1975) Technical Ecstasy (1976) Never Say Die (1978) Poetry: My Mind Eyes of Fire You Say Goodbye to the Nighttime Film Review: Live in Paris (1970) Black Sabbath (1963) Copyright © Drew Martin 2021
We’ve reached the end of the original Black Sabbath run. The final album of the “Ozzy years.” Never Say Die! hit record store shelves on September 28, 1978. Another Vertigo album and produced by Black Sabbath, namely Tony Iommi. The Sound Interchange in Toronto, Ontario served as recording studio from January to May 1978. At 45:11, Never Say Die! is a tick or few over my perfect album length. The critics and most listeners hate it. I don’t think it’s that horrible. Third shelf.
I thought I’d be taking a step back from the previous album, but this proves to be a few steps. Technical Ecstasy hit record store shelves on September 25, 1976. Tony Iommi produced this Vertigo album recorded at Criteria in Miami, Florida in June 1976. It doesn’t even sound like Black Sabbath, but generic mid-70s arena rock. The band was managing themselves. Ozzy had thoughts of quitting. The drink and drugs were an increasing issue. A third shelf selection. I think.
Deep in the throes of a bitter legal battle with former manager Patrick Meehan, Black Sabbath recorded their sixth album, and one worthy of top-rated, top-shelf status. Sabotage hit record store shelves on July 28, 1975. Another Vertigo release produced by Tony Iommi and Mike Butcher and recorded at London, England’s Morgan Studios in February and March 1975.
The fifth Black Sabbath album, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, hit record store shelves December 1, 1973. After a return to Los Angeles, California produced nothing other than cocaine abuse, the band returned to England. London’s Morgan Studios served as recording venue in September 1973. Another Vertigo album produced by Tony Iommi. At 42:35, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath squeezes into my perfect album listening length, but like many Sabbath albums, it feels long at times. A better album than the previous effort, but I’m not sure how good. I’ll give it fourth shelf status since I don’t do half shelves. Have you ever seen a half shelf?
Black Sabbath’s fourth album, aptly named Vol. 4, hit record store shelves on September 25, 1972. The famed Record Plant in Los Angeles, California, served as recording studio in May 1972. Due to the place and time, is it a wonder this album leaves the “alcohol and marijuana” of the previous albums to this “coke” album? Another Vertigo album, but one produced by guitarist Tony Iommi, with a credit to then-manger Patrick Meehan. Of the four Black Sabbath albums to date, Vol. 4’s the weakest. The 42:18 length felt much longer. A third shelf selection.
Black Sabbath’s third studio album in two years, and third overall, Master of Reality, hit record store shelves July 21, 1971. Another Vertigo release produced by Rodger Bain. London’s famed Island Studios served as recording venue from February to April 1971. A short album at 34:24, it fits easily into my perfect album listening length. It plays long at times, but still really good. Some cite Master of Reality as their favorite Black Sabbath album. I’m not one of them. I will place it on the respected fourth shelf.
If the debut was the “morning star” of heavy metal, the sophomore effort was the first true “trip to Hell.” No sophomore slump here as Black Sabbath’s 1970 album, Paranoid, stands as the first true heavy metal album, and one of the best of all-time. A true top-rated, top-shelf selection. I had this one in my collection in high school.
On October 16, 1969, a former blues band called Earth recorded an album at London, England’s Regent Sound. Rodger Bain produced the album released on Vertigo for a re-christened quartet from Birmingham, England. The 38:12 debut, which fits well in my perfect album listening length, is a debut for both the band and the genre they’d birth and pioneer. Black Sabbath and heavy metal. The low tuning and ominous, eerie sounds haunt the opening title track with Satanic lyrics. The “morning star” of things to come.