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TitleBlack Sabbath - Digital Booklet
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A
CRASH OF THUNDER AMIDST POURING RAIN AND THE

OMINOUS TOLLING OF A DISTANT CHURCH BELL. IT
MAY SOUND AS SCHLOCKY AND HAMMY AS THE PULP

HORROR FICTION AND HAMMER HORROR MOVIES THAT SO
INSPIRED BASSIST AND MAIN LYRICIST TERRY ‘GEEZER’
BUTLER, BUT WHEN THE PRIMAL,THUMPING ROCK MUSIC THAT
FOLLOWED THE INTRO ON BLACK SABBATH’S EPONYMOUS
1970 DEBUT ALBUM, ON INDEED THE SONG CALLED ‘BLACK
SABBATH’, IT LEFT LISTENERS IN NO DOUBT THAT HERE WAS A
BAND DESTINED TO CHANGE THE FACE OF ROCK MUSIC

FOREVER. AND INDEED IT WAS SO...

When Sabbath appeared in 1968, the rock world had moved on apace from the beat
and blues boom of the early ’60s, with new psychedelic sounds colouring the
landscape and leading to heavier sounds.As leaders of this new musical vision Black
Sabbath would take the baton set by this new direction and run with it in a far
darker, heavier direction.

BLACK SABBATH’S GREATEST HITS

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Indeed, a fledgling Black Sabbath, going under the name Earth, would liberally
pepper their live shows with lengthy blues jams as they gradually began to forge
their own unique sound. Earth had evolved out of the Polka Tulk Blues Band who
themselves came into being when guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward,
previously in a band called Mythology, hooked up with a young singer named John
'Ozzy' Osbourne and bassist Butler, from local band Rare Breed.The original band
was a six piece, augmented by saxophonist Alan 'Aker' Clarke and slide guitarist
Jimmy Phillips, but by the time they'd started calling themselves Earth, the band had
become the four piece who would, over the next decade, help shape the form of
music that would come to be known and loved worldwide as heavy metal.

Earth almost ground to a halt when Iommi suddenly upped and joined up and
coming prog rockers Jethro Tull in December 1968, but within the year he was back
in Earth's ranks, with a new sense of vision and determination. In 1969 the band
changed name for a final time, inspired by the 1963 Boris Karloff horror movie
Black Sabbath and signed a deal with Phillips imprint Fontana (although they would
soon move onto the Vertigo label within the Phillips stable).The stage was set for a
new musical revolution.

Whilst other heavier rock acts orchestrated a slightly more progressive approach to
thunderously loud heavy rock music, Black Sabbath's sound was primeval, dark and
ominous, reflecting the industrial background of their native Midlands.

Released on (predictably) Friday 13th of February, 1970, 'Black Sabbath' set out the
band's musical vision perfectly, mixing ear-bleedingly loud guitars, mournful vocals,
and a titanic rhythm section. Despite a panning in the media the album reached No.
23 in the US album charts, and No. 8 at home. Sabbath were on their way.

BLACK SABBATH’S GREATEST HITS

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Within four months of the album's release, Sabbath were back in the studio working
on a follow-up. Originally it was the band's intent to call their second album 'War
Pigs', after the now-legendary anti-war song, but a troubled US label (Warner Bros.)
baulked at the last minute (how ironic that the critics who blindly labelled the band
Satanists never reflected on 'War Pigs' sentiments). Instead the album took the name
of a song the band recorded at the end of the sessions when they realised they didn't
have enough material, 'Paranoid'. This short, sharp shock of rock was also the
preceding single (and without a doubt the band's most famous tune) which would
be the only Sabbath tune to crack the UK Top 10 singles charts and help power
‘Paranoid’ the album into the US Top 10 in October 1970 (as well as topping the
UK charts) with barely any airplay or critical support.

With intricate tunes like 'Iron Man' and 'Fairies Wear Boots' as well as the reflective
'Planet Caravan' (covered so successfully by Pantera in 1994) 'Paranoid' showed
there was far more depth to the band than many US critics were prepared to hear.
This much was made even more evident when the band released their third album,
'Master Of Reality', in July 1971. An epic moment in metal which showed greater
variety than the band's two previous efforts, as well as the ominous 'Children Of
The Grave' and the drug referencing 'Sweet Leaf'. The band compounded their
enormous US success with massive tours, after which they took a well earned break.

Sabbath returned invigorated in September 1972 with 'Volume 4' (originally
intended to be titled 'Snowblind' but once more the record company flinched at the
overt drug reference). Again a million seller in America, the band also made an all
too rare Top Of The Pops in the UK. And again the band continued to evolve,
matching the blitzkrieg riffage of 'Supernaut' with the introspective ballad
'Changes' (later covered by Ozzy and daughter Kelly). The theme of musical
adventure continued over onto 1973's excellent 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath', at which
point the critics finally seemed to have woken up to the fact that Sabbath were more
than a bunch of wild-haired Neanderthals, and further compounded their already
impressive success with the quite brilliant 'Sabotage' in 1975.

Despite not quite matching the hugely impressive sales status of earlier releases,
'Sabotage' nevertheless achieved Gold sales status and was a Top 20 hit on both sides
of the Atlantic and included the legendary 'Symptom Of The Universe', one of the
band's most majestic pieces of music. The band toured in support of the album
before Ozzy was sidelined due to a motorcycle accident. In the interim period, the
band's career was celebrated with the release of the double greatest hits set ‘We Sold
Our Souls For Rock'N'Roll'.

BLACK SABBATH’S GREATEST HITS

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Technical Ecstasy' was released in 1976. To further embellish their sound, keyboard
player Gerald Woodruffe, who had also worked on 'Sabotage,' was brought back in,
lending the music a more contemporary, up-tempo air. As before, 'Technical Ecstasy'
was a huge success with built-in live show stoppers such as 'Dirty Women, ' 'Gypsy'
and 'Back Street Kids.'

Arriving back into the Monnow Valley after some unfortunate events - Ozzy's loss
and also a brief stint with Savoy Brown's Dave Walker - the band resumed writing.
'Junior's Eyes' had already been mapped and rehearsed at Field Farm, Evesham, and
was a brilliant mixture of emotions and a remembrance to Black Sabbath's earlier
beginnings, with jazz-flavoured riffs peppered onto its hardcore structure. 'Never Say
Die' was born in Monnow Valley, however, it took some below-30 degree weather
in Toronto Canada to capture 'Johnny Blade.' All the songs on 'Never Say Die' are
heartfelt and contain the collective experience of a band who from humble
beginnings were able to create a powerful docking foundation where many
musicians and fans alike would rescue their day by pounding Sabbath into their
heads. A tired band, perhaps. A great band, yes. 'Never Say Die' was an ending, the
last album.The band thanks you.

The Black Sabbath success story would continue throughout the '90s with a series
of further hit albums, whilst Osbourne would have a hugely successful solo career
and is these days a well known television celebrity along with wife Sharon.This set,
however, focuses on the first Osbourne era from 1970 to 1978.

JERRY EWING
Classic Rock Magazine

London, May 2009

BLACK SABBATH’S GREATEST HITS

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