Friday, April 11, 2008

Death will freeze my very soul...

It’s been a very busy week and that’s alright since I’ve been in a sort of blogging lull anyway and it appears most of those blogs I read have covered the news of the day pretty well, teen beat downs and all (FL white kids are charged with felonies for a group beating: I wonder if all the Jena Six ralliers will show up in support of dropping/reducing charges for these kids).

Last night I finally I came upon something worthy of comment. I’ve been reading “Rat Salad: Black Sabbath: The Classic Years 1969-1975” by Paul Wilkinson that Mrs. Alva gave me for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. The overleaf accurately describes the book as such:

Where Rat Salad diverges from routes taken by most rock biographies, however, is in its detailed analysis of the band’s first six albums. These chapters occupy about half the book and persuasively explain the appeal of the music, its compositional artistry and its audacious inventiveness.

I’m half way through it and it’s definitely a different read than I expected. In addition to being a UK homie to the fellows Black, Wilkinson’s a HUGE fan and accomplished musician who musically dissects the tracks of the first six heyday Black Sabbath records in excruciating detail (the self titled debut through ‘Sabotage’, Wilkinson dismisses the next two Ozzy fronted records ‘Technical Ecstasy’ and ‘Never Say Die!’ as not worth listening to. I’m inclined to agree with him for the most part). Each chapter begins with historical context of world events, a brief synopsis of what the band was doing at the time, and a little bit of in studio coverage for each LP. The “compositional artistry” is a bit too much for me at times, but it has inspired me to fact check him and get re-acquainted with some of the tunes that I haven’t queued up in a while. The guy LOVES Tony Iomni’s guitar playing and sometimes his affection for Mr. Iomni’s multi-track solo indulgences is way over the top, but I find myself nodding my head in agreement to much of his analysis about these records and their songs. I forget that most of the tunes that made all these records were born out of his riffs. I think I’ve been hard on Iomni in th that past for being such a dick to Ozzy, but the truth is with that lot, SOMEBODY had to be the leader and he was simply more together than the others. Bill Ward, and Geezer were almost as out of control as Ozzy was it turns out. I’m also reminded that Geezer was the band’s lyricist, a job I seem to always assume Ozzy did.

I put it down last night as I ended the chapters related to ‘Master of Reality’ (awesome album!), as the ‘Vol. 4’ era begins. In his foreshadowing teaser paragraphs teeing up the Vol. 4 album, he states, “Vol. 4 would be a departure from the previous three records in every aspect” and attributes this partially to the horrendous amounts of cocaine the band was now consuming regularly. I thought that was a bit much until I reflected and juxtaposed Vol. 4 with the previous records and realized quickly that the fucking guy is right.

I happen to love Vol. 4. and it is my far and away favorite Black Sabbath album. I can listen to it front to back over and over again and it still gets my blood pumping after all these years. Although the others are great records, the sludginess of the prior efforts can sometimes send me to the stacks to find something else to play after awhile, or cause me to progress the needle forward. Compared to the previous three, Vol. 4 is decided up tempo (“Changes” being the lone standout and the most significant departure from their style up to that point). I’m looking forward to reading his rundown of each of it’s songs.

So, in the spirit of all this I’ll toss out a couple of tracks that kick major ass. If you don’t think so, you’re wrong and simply hate rock.

Give me love and I may let you see me,
Let me hold back the feelings I had
If you really want me to answer,
I can only let you know I'm not dead...

Good stuff.

As always, simply click the player in the margin…


At 9:20 PM, April 11, 2008, Blogger Beth said...

Great review. Too bad the subject doesn't interest me.

At 1:19 PM, April 12, 2008, Anonymous Rod said...

Great Review. The subject does interest me. As I recall, in the summer of 78, I might have turned you on to Black Sabbath at Delafield. I do know it was the only tape I had that you would listen to.

It’s hard to pick a favorite, I love the first one in all its gloom, maybe I just love the song Black Sabbath so much that I love the album.

Fairies where boots, war pigs, iron man, I think this says it all.

I have always lumped master of reality with vol 4, both great albums.

I always though Sabbath bloody Sabbath was a better song than album, but I was listening to it the other day, and it is a lot better than I remember.

I think I always will rate Sabotage as the best album song for song, or maybe it was side one. Remember the black plastic on the windows in the basement, I think I listened to sabotage every day that summer.

At 12:49 PM, April 13, 2008, Blogger coolmomma said...

I wouldn't be able to identify one of these songs from another, though, no doubt, I've heard each and every one of them over and over. In our monsterous house on Park Rd. at WP, I had the room directly below both Tony and Mathdude. I remember many a night where I fell asleep listening to whatever they were playing on their record player. My favorite was Pink Floyd, School's Out For Summer.

At 10:21 AM, April 14, 2008, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Beth, Beth ,Beth...

Rod, Your Sabbath tapes at Delefield did indeed get the ball rolling for me and I too love the records prior to Vol 4. 'Wicked World' is my all time fav Sabbath tune, closely behind it 'Hand of Doom'. Sabotage huh? That's a unique position. I'll have to give it a end to end playback.

Sab Bloody Sab has some great tracks (Nat'l Acrobat is exceptional), but there is weak stuff there and that's the pattern that followed IMHO. Vol. 4 was the peak where the coke fueled up tempo flavor mixed with their collective creative force to deliver a record that has no weak spots.

CM: I didn't know you were listening...

At 11:34 AM, April 14, 2008, Blogger coolmomma said...

Well, how could I not listen? I had no choice! It's funny now though to think back to that. I don't think I ever complained to M or D about it, and I doubt they would have gotten involved if I had!

At 2:15 AM, April 15, 2008, Blogger Jackson said...

Well,..... Rod turned me on to Sabbath as well, and I had the blessing of access to his records (permission not necessarily granted)I certainly got the full scope early on.

As I see it the debut LP is outstanding. The material was strong, and as is often the case with initial offerings, was road tested. Whoever recorded that record did a great job of simply representing an established sound the band had. Simple, balanced, and remarkably clear.

'Paranoid' is the big one though, right. People who have one Sabbath record have 'Paranoid'. Strong material, but the production is a bit muddier, which is most likely a product of having more time to record than they had for the first record, allowing for more overdubs, but not enough time to do it well.

'Masters of Reality' suffers even more from the innovation vs. lack of money and experience syndrome, and in my opinion has weaker tunes. Very heavy record though.

'Vol. 4' is the first album where they seemed to have really taken care with the production. The ambition was finally being matched with the means to accomplish it.

'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' follows suit with even better production. Iommi's obsession with layers of guitars was finally treated with sophistication. The title track is the best song they ever wrote.

'Sabbotage' is the culmination, the apex, the grand master stroke. It is by far and away so mindblowingly better than any other Metal record that to compare is solely agianst other Sabbath records is an injustice to it and them.

After that it'a all crap except 'Junior's Eyes' from 'Never Say Die'.

Jackson is law.

At 10:15 AM, April 15, 2008, Blogger Tony Alva said...

I'm half way though the Vol. 4 chapters, but your speculation matches the authors history of the previous albums thus far.

I'm going to sit dwon this weekend and listne to Sabbotage with open ears, but I sense a "Greatest Aerosmith Record" debate bubbling up here, cause Vol. 4 will be tough to top.

At 6:48 PM, April 15, 2008, Blogger Jackson said...

I was drunk. Vol. 4 is hella good as well.

At 9:52 PM, April 15, 2008, Blogger fred said...

they were snowblind


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