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
The subject of today’s review is the film that gave its name to the pioneer’s of heavy metal. Maybe that’s not true. They probably just took it. Anyway, my review of 1963’s Black Sabbath is going to be slightly different. There isn’t a lot of real information about the version I watched. Black Sabbath is originally an Italian film. American International Pictures created an English version from the original, making changes and cuts to certain stories, scenes, and references. After watching the 93 minutes that make up this three tale trilogy of an anthology film, I’ll put it on the third shelf.
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.
In looking for Black Sabbath film material for this Black Sabbath review project, I came across this rare piece on YouTube. A few months after the release of Paranoid, Black Sabbath recorded a concert for British television performed in Paris, France. I think British television as there are two parts, one half one week and the second half the following week, complete with beginning and end credits on both. The credits are in French, but a British accent previews the next week. The overall runtime of 58:49 doesn’t disappoint. A concert from the early days of Black Sabbath, December 20, 1970. Paris, France’s Olympic Theatre serves as venue. It’s cool to see a young Ozzy, and he acts goofy and mumbles talking to the crowd, but not near as bad as he does now. He flubs a line in “Black Sabbath,” and the lyrics to “War Pigs” are completely different. Not sure if he forgot them and improvised. Live versions of “Hand of Doom,” “N.I.B.,” and “Fairies Wear Boots,” yes, thank you. I’ll give this a spot on the revered 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.