Black Sabbath

Black SabbathFrom: Birmingham, England

Black Sabbath have often been revered as the kings of heavy metal. Sabbath took the blues-rock style of Cream, Blue Cheer, and Vanilla Fudge, and took it to another level. They slowed the tempo of the music, put an emphasis on the bass, and contained screeching guitar solos and soaring vocals. Black Sabbath managed to completely revolutionize the rock and roll scene with their edge and nastiness.

Black Sabbath started with four teenage friends from Aston, England, decided to put together a band. Anthony “Tony” Iommi (guitar), William “Bill” Ward (Drums), John “Ozzy” Osbourne (vocals), and Terence “Geezer” Butler (bass) made up the initial band, and would bring the band to international stardom. Initially, the band was a jazz-blues group that went under the name Polka Tulk. They would later change their name to Earth, and began touring Europe extensively. Eventually, they were being mistaken for another band called Earth, so they decided to change their name again. Black Sabbath came from a song written by Butler that got its title from a film directed by Mario Bava. Sabbath’s live performances began to attract enough attention that record labels started to show interest. The band signed to Philips Records in 1969.

In 1970, Black Sabbath released their debut single, “Evil Woman (Don’t Play Your Games With Me),” on Philips subsidiary Fontana. The single was a cover of a song that had just become a hit for the American band, Crow. Sabbath’s version of the song fail to chart. A month later, this time on another Philips subsidiary, Vertigo, the band’s debut album, Black Sabbath, was released, reaching the Top Ten in the U.K. In America, Warner Bros. Records was the label Sabbath was signed to. The album did not reach the charts until August 1970, but once it did, it reached the Top 40 and remained on the charts for over a year, selling a million copies.

It wasn’t long before Black Sabbath released their follow-up album. Paranoid was released in September 1970, and quickly became the band’s biggest seller. The title track made the Top Five in the U.K., and the album went to number one. In America, Paranoid was not released until January 1971, as a result of the first album just beginning to sell. Again, “Paranoid” cracked the Top Ten, and eventually sold over four million copies. In August 1971, the band released their third album, Master Of Reality. The album reached the Top 10 in both the U.K. and America, selling over a million copies. The same fate was met with the release of 1972’s Black Sabbath, Vol. 4.

For their 1973 album, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, the band brought in keyboardist Rick Wakeman of Yes, signifying a shift in the musical direction. Even with the change in style, Sabbath landed their fifth straight Top Ten, million-selling album. 1974 was a year of managerial dispute, and Black Sabbath were idle for an extended period of time. They would return in 1975 with the release of Sabotage, and were quickly welcomed back in Britain. In America, however, the album suffered due to a change in the music scene. The album reached the Top 20, but sales were not what they had been with the band’s first five albums. This was quickly answered with another million-seller in the double-LP, We Sold Our Soul For Rock ‘n’ Roll, also released in 1975. Tension started to develop within the band, as Iomi wanted to experiment more with the sound. Osbourne wanted nothing to do with change, and was disgruntled after the release of Sabbath’s next album, Technical Ecstasy, released in 1976. Osbourne quit the band in 1977, temporarily replaced by Dave Walker, formerly of Savoy Brown. In 1978, Osbourne would return to the line-up. The band recorded their eighth album, Never Say Die! The album produced to Top 40 hits in “Never Say Die” and “Hard Road.” The album saw modest sales, and Osbourne again quit the band, this time pursuing a solo career. In June 1979, Ronnie James Dio, formerly of Rainbow, came in as Black Sabbath’s new singer. At this time, Sabbath also added Geoff Nichols (keyboards). Nichols wasn’t technically listed as a band member until later in Sabbath’s career.

Black Sabbath has continued to write and record, with an album scheduled for release in 2013. There have been several different line-up changes over the years, but the early years are the highlight of Sabbath’s illustrious career. Although not a psychedelic band in the true sense, being in their early days more heavy rock / prog with psych overtones, Black Sabbath contributed their fair share of psychedelic music to be included in one’s collection. Dreamy pieces such as “Planet Caravan” and “Solitude” are very much influenced by the psychedelic movement.

Artist information sources include: an article by William Ruhlmann at Allmusic.com

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1970 album Paranoid
Paranoid

  • Planet Caravan
  • War Pigs

From the 1971 album Master Of Reality
Black Sabbath - Master Of Reality

  • Solitude

From the 1972 album Black Sabbath, Vol. 4
Black Sabbath Vol 4

  • Supernaut
  • Wheels Of Confusion