There are milestones and then there are milestones of milestones. This, is one of those occurrences my friends. Welcome to the birth of Heavy Metal music because today is the 50th Anniversary of the debut album by the legendary (and now mostly retired) Black Sabbath. That album is their eponymous “Black Sabbath”.
When I first raised a glass to this albums anniversary it was on their 45th of its release and part of me did this with the fact that it was happening on Friday The 13th and the other wondering just how long I was planning on keeping this little website in play. Well, I’m still at it and today is the 50th so I will just work along with some of those five years ago notions, and direct you to that article by saying to click HERE for the fuller overview that I did. I’ll do my best to make a lot of this reflection different from the last one.
In 1970 I was NOT listening to Black Sabbath because I was only five years old but I sit today wondering how it must have first hit the fans who took at chance on this grim looking release when they saw it and its witch on the shelves of their local record store. Remember, there wasn’t actually a Heavy Metal genre yet despite their being a few groups that are now considered Proto-Metal based on the levels of heaviness that they were bringing to their music. I mused how the phrase “It Begins Here” was never truer based on so very many listeners viewing this as the crushing beginning of the Heavy Metal sound. Remember that it was far different from the type of Rock that bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Cream had delivered before them and while holding some similar roots in the Blues area with a little more amplitude, the stuff that Sabbath delivered on this debut was much heavier, darker and had numerous ominous and occult references.
Imagine yourself sitting in a poster laden darkened room with some kind of incense or something else burning as the needle hit that black disc and led you to those crushing riffs and oh so sinister tone with the opening track “Black Sabbath”. Clearly this band was going to either set you on a path or steer you clear from it from the get go. You all know the intro lyrics but I am repeating them just the same.
“What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me
Turn around quick, and start to run
Find out I’m the chosen one
“Big black shape with eyes of fire
Telling people their desire
Satan’s sitting there, he’s smiling
Watches those flames get higher and higher
Oh no, no, please God help me”
Since this part of my views are exactly the same, I am repeating some of it from my original 2015 narrative, thanks for understanding. With this early 1970 album, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward would make the term Heavy Metal music their own despite bands like Mountain and Blue Cheer who played heavy stuff as well prior to them and were instead labeled as being Proto-Metal. I wouldn’t get into Black Sabbath music until my teens and as result was exposed to other albums in their growing catalog before looking back on their first release. It’s not really my favorite in the catalog but bands have to start somewhere. My own favorite is “Paranoid” which I think a lot of readers also find some preference to as well. There were seven tracks on the debut and that made sense since some tunes were longer than others and you only had so much space on an LP back then. It was rare to assume that a first album would get a two LP release and not so much so with a small label that was a sub-division of something larger (Vertigo Records was an offshoot of Phillips/Phonogram Records to be a place where Prog and other non-mainstream groups could be placed). Let’s look at the track listing and then continue along.
1. Black Sabbath
2. The Wizard
3. Behind The Wall Of Sleep
5. Evil Woman
6. Sleeping Village
Looking over the tracks on this album I can say that the tunes that were my first favorites have remained the same since first hearing them and that pretty much amounts to the full first side of the LP. Remember, you had to flip the big black disk on your turntable back in the old days to hear the rest of an album and those of us who really cared for our records, did not readily skip tracks as much as they let a full side play through. I don’t think you will argue their level of importance across the Heavy Metal chords of time. Of this first side, the top two for me are “The Wizard” since it employs some sweet harmonica along with its solid riff and “N.I.B.” and I think that this stems from my watching friends in bands and the famous ones all delivering their own cover of it. What were your favorites from this album? Were they the same as my own or did you find the whole body of work a stunning piece of Metal’s early history? Speak up in the comments on this post so we get some larger idea from the readers. You can learn more about the album itself in terms of the production and the course of history of the time via its Wiki entry linked below and of course check in with what Sabbath is up to in the here and now via their own website link as well.
Back in 2015 I pointed out that the album had been remastered some time before that and while I had anticipated a larger, more comprehensive issue for this particular anniversary, I’ve not yet seen one or learned about one coming via the usual media channels that I follow. Not to worry, when one surfaces we shall of course purchase and offer up some editorial notions about it. I’ve kept the same Amazon.com code down below for you to purchase a copy for your colleciton but honestly at this point in time I cannot think of a single Metalhead that doesn’t have the very first Black Sabbath album in their collection. As I close this Music Milestone up and let us all get back to the regular course of the day, I ask you all to chime in down below and cite what Black Sabbath meant to you as a fan of this brand-new genre and how this album affected you when you first heard it. All topical submissions will be approved while the off-topic notions moved to the circular file. Happy Anniversary Black Sabbath on this milestone of milestones. Thank you for setting up the framework of an amazing and now very diverse musical genre.
Official Album Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sabbath_%28album%29
Official Website: http://www.blacksabbath.com