Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Greatest Rock albums of all times Part. 12

                                     BLACK SABBATH: BLACK SABBATH

  Before I start writting this, I made a lot of thinking on how to approach this band and their albums.
I wrote a couple of posts, and then I erased them, because when it comes to Black Sabbath it is really very difficult for me to be objective. I really tried hard to decide which records I should put in this post, and after many changes, I thought that my best option was to present only their first album. Because if I had to put a second one (as I had in mind at first), it seemed impossible for me to decide which one would be. In my oppinion their first 5 albums are equally important and good. (The only exception maybe, would be the album Vol.4, because it is the 'weakest' in comparison to the other four).
   Black Sabbath's dark image (that would follow them forever), started here: On Friday the 13th (!) of February 1970 with the release of their first self titled record. In the cover we see a picture of an old house which seems to be abandoned, and a pale figure dressed in black in the front. The whole cover is like a picture that was taken from a horror movie. (The house in this cover was a windmill situated somewhere on Thames river). In the original version, the cover had a gatefold with an inverted black cross and a poem written on it.
   Moving on from the cover, let's take a look at the songs here. The album opens with the famous 'Black Sabbath'. Rain falls, thunders strike, and the sound of the church bell ringing setting up a dark and gloomy atmosphere, before the heavy sound of guitar and bass hit you in the stomach like iron. Ozzy with his odd voice sings about 'a fıgure in black which points at me'. (him). (The lyrics of this song are based on a nightmare Geezer Butler had). We continue with the song N.I.B, in which the lyrics are written from the point of view of Lucifer. The song 'Behind the wall of sleep' was inspired by H.P Lovecraft's story with the same title, and 'The Wizard' was inspired from the wizard Gandalf from the 'Lord of the Rings' books, written by J.R.R Tolkien. The songs 'Evil Woman' and 'Warning' are actually cover versions of some old Blues songs.
   According to Tonny Iommi, this album was recorded in one day. They went to the studio, played all the songs live, recorded them and left. The only 'luxury' they had, it was that Ozzy was singing from another booth.
   The critics this album received varied from bad to terrible! My opinion is that the critics and the media of that time were unable to handle such a record, because it was something they were listening to for the first time, and they had no idea how to react to it. For example, Black Sabbath record received criticisms such as: 'It sounds like a very bad version of Cream', or ' Is like Vanilla Fudge playing a tribute to Aleister Crowley'. HA! You understand now eh? That is exactly what I meant before, when I wrote  they didn't know how to handle this record.  How is it even possible to try and compare Black Sabbath with Cream? (Btw, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was a very famous mage, occultist etc.)
   Despite the bad critics, the album sales were not bad at all! It reached at No.8 on the U.K charts, and at No.23 at the USA charts.
   With the passing years, the critics started giving better and better reviews, until it gained it's position as one of the most important albums in the history of Rock music. After all, let's not forget that this sound later on was categorized as 'Heavy Metal' which has its roots exactly from this record! (And the rest of Black Sabbath's records which followed)...
P.S: I might just add that my most beloved albums are Black Sabbath, and Master of Reality...

Other Black Sabbath records I recommend: Paranoid, Master of Reality, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage.