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Black Sabbath (1970) - Black Sabbath - All about the album ...

On how the first Black Sabbath album was created...

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (1970)

Black Sabbath is the first album by the British band of the same name. It was released in early 1970, on Friday the 13th in Britain itself and on the first day of summer in the States. Moreover, questions about adequate understanding begin already at the level of translation. It is ambiguous: on the one hand, Saturday is a sacred day of rest in Judaism and Islam, but the other side of this concept is the "sabbath" of witchcraft forces. Now this album has become a real classic - it is recognized as one of the first examples of heavy metal.

"Black Sabbath."
"Black Sabbath."

Good old Black Sabbath

Those who were previously part of the Mythology group, which ceased to exist in 1968 (including guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward), began to create a new group playing heavy blues in Aston (Birmingham). The new group included bassist Geezer Butler and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, who had previously performed as members of Rare Breed (“Rare Breed”). Osbourne, shortly before joining a new group, posted an ad in a regional record store that read:

"Ozzy Zig wants to perform - I have my own amplifier."

Slide guitarist Jimmy Philips and saxophonist Alan Clark were found, after which the band came up with the name The Polka Tulk Blues Band, later shortened to The Polka Tulk. For some reason, it did not satisfy the tastes of the group, and "Earth" became the new version. At this stage, the group lost Phillips and Clark: they made the decision to leave.

How did Black Sabbath start?

The team performed in English, Danish, German clubs. The repertoire included mainly songs by Jimi Hendrix, Americans from the group "Blue Cheer" (psychedelic blues) and "Cream". During concert performances, long blues jams sounded. At the end of 1968, Tony Iommi left the group and joined Jethro Tull. His stay there was short-lived, but he was noticed in the popular television show "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus" (a DVD film of this performance by the masters of rock and roll was published in 1996). Not feeling genuine satisfaction from the music played by Jethro Tull, Iommi returned to Earth again after a couple of months. Subsequently, the musician admitted:

“It wasn't like that at all. At first I thought they were cool, but I could not accept the idea of a leader, as Ian Anderson insisted on it. But it gave me a new understanding. I learned to work to get something."

"Black Sabbath."
"Black Sabbath."

Group name

During the English tour in 1969, it turned out that the group often could not be distinguished from the guys with the same name. This was the impetus for a name change. How was it found? Literally across the street from the rehearsal room was a cinema hall, which showed Boris Karloff's "horror" Black Sabbath. And the demand for tickets has always gone off scale, judging by the long queues at the box office. So the musicians learned that people are attracted to horror.

Geezer Butler even painted the walls of his apartment black and hung upside down crucifixes. Osborne fascinated him with a book about medieval black magic by the occultist Dennis Wheatley. Reading at night turned into a mystical episode: suddenly waking up, the musician saw a creature in a black hood by his bed. It gradually disappeared, and rising, Butler discovered the disappearance of the book. In the wake of this episode, the song "Black Sabbath" was created, in which, from the first lines, they talk about Butler's mystical experience:

"Silhouette in black, pointing in my direction...".

The hero of the song tends to leave this place as soon as possible, but for some reason he cannot. He became someone else - as if he had been chosen. He resists: “No, no, not that!” Such a strong fear could be caused by the Devil himself, who arose here and rather watched how the fiery Gehenna was blazing with heat. Osborne often told this eerie story of the creation of the composition at performances.

It was thanks to her that the group became famous as "satanic", despite the fact that according to the text the hero repeatedly calls for God's help and repeats that you need to run. And the rest of the musicians constantly denied their belonging to satanic sects and the "satanic" worldview. In 1992, Tony Iommi spoke to a Guitar World journalist and noted:

“To be honest, at first we were in contact with the most important of the English Satanists. He came to our talks, wanted to get us to speak at their meetings. We learned information - more out of curiosity, but we were never passionate about black magic or the occult. ”

If we keep in mind purely musical features, this song is built on a tritone, a certain dissonance, known popularly as the "devil's interval". Thanks to this effect, an ominous atmosphere is created, complemented by the corresponding text. Of course, this did not fit well into the general musical context of the 1960s, with the priority of hippie and folk culture. Inspired by the novelty of the sound, the musicians decided to change their name to "Black Sabbath" and continue to develop in this direction. It was an attempt to create a musical analogue of horror films.

First entries...

At the end of 1969, the group signed a contract with Philips Records, and at the beginning of the next year, the single "Evil Woman" was released by Fontana Records. Then the company created a new label "Vertigo Records", focused specifically on the release of current contemporary music, and this began a long-term cooperation between the group and Vertigo.

Although the initial single was not a success, the band was given an extra two days to record their first album in the studio with producer Roger Bain. According to Iommi, it was two days of recording and one day to mix everything. We played live. Osbourne sang in parallel, in a special room for the vocalist. They worked as tightly as they could, without any pauses.

There is another infamous song - "NIB". She is talked about a lot, because the text is written on behalf of the subtly seductive Lucifer:

“Some people think that I cannot truly love. Please believe me, my beloved, and I will open the world for you.

I'll give you what you thought was incredible.

The sun, the moon, the stars - everything bears my seal.

Oh yeah!

Follow me and you won't regret it.

Leave everything that was in your life before we met. You are the first to receive my love.

Forever together, until the end of time ... ".

And further: “Look at me and you will see who I am.

My name is Lucifer. Please take my hand…”

There is a point of view that the name of the composition "NIB" can be deciphered as follows: "Nativity In Black" - "Christmas in Black". But, as Tony Iommi said in various interviews, this name refers to the small "goat" beard that was part of the image of drummer Bill Ward. Its sharpness resembled the thinness of a pen (pen-nib).

The song "Behind the Wall of Sleep" ("Behind the Wall of Sleep") associatively returns to the short story of the same name by P. Lovecraft. "The Wizard", when Osborne plays the harmonica, originated from the image of Gandalf from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. "Warning" and "Evil Woman" are blues covers by Ainsley Dunbar and Crow. The interpretation proposed by the musicians sounds heavier, it has more instrumental jams.

Achievements

Upon release in England, the album peaked at number 8. After the release in America - on the 23rd position in the Billboard 200 list, and there he remained for a year. A million copies were sold out. The album was certified platinum in the States and gold in Canada. Although the group was mega-popular, critics spared no effort in swearing. For example, the authoritative Lester Bangs from Rolling Stone scolded the album for its similarity to Cream, calling it "a disharmonious jam of guitar and bass on various musical perimeters that do not fall in time with each other."

The budget of the album was more than modest - about 600 pounds. Recorded actually live, overdubs were minimized. Sound engineer Tom Allom said that it took 2 days to record and the same amount to mix, which took place without the participation of musicians. And probably, for the group itself, such success was the most surprising thing. As bassist Geezer Butler recalls:

“We couldn’t even think that something would work out! Recorded on the go, going to Denmark.”

In 2002, Rolling Stone ranked Black Sabbath at number 238 on its "Top 500 in all of music history" list.

Album's cover

Black Sabbath album cover
Black Sabbath album cover

It depicts a popular place in good old Britain - the Mapledarham water mill, created back in the Middle Ages (dating back to the 15th century). And she's still working. The mill is located on the Thames in Oxfordshire. The background for the image of this rare monument is a mystical figure in a black cloak, most likely referring to the one that was once seen by one of the members of the group. In the initial British edition, the envelope is turned around, on the inside of which an inverted crucifix is drawn. And it has a verse written on it. There is an opinion that the crucifixion was added by the company that published the album, without agreement with the band itself, and the musicians were upset, because this only fueled suspicions of "Satanism". So, they had to re-convince the public of their trustworthiness.

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