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Black Sabbath: Iron Men

When this came out I hated it. I thought it was to loud, to annoying, and to dark. Now I know that I was wrong. “It took a day to record. The producer on this project was making his debut in such a role. The studio was a four-track. And the whole thing cost less than one VIP ticket for a Bon Jovi show in London this June. Yet, in 1970, this unprepossessing and rather low-key debut album altered the world as we knew it. For we’re talking here of the self-titled debut album from Black Sabbath. This was where heavy metal breathed for the first time, staring down the burning sun of commercial realism and blinding succeeding generations with an uncompromising darkness of thought, deed and riff.“ We were different to anything around at the time,” says guitarist Tony Iommi 40 years after its release.“While everyone else was still wrapped up in the hippy and psychedelic ideas of the 1960s, this was something new.”“We were four local lads. I went to school with Tony. I was in a band with Geezer Butler,” adds Ozzy Osbourne. “When we started, we had everything to gain and nothing to lose. It was my way out of working in a factory for the rest of my life.”

 

There had been indications of a coming force on the music scene before. The riff to The Kinks’ 1964 hit single You Really Got Me, for instance. The 1968 debut album from Blue Cheer, Vincebus Eruptum, and the Iron Butterfly record In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida the same year. A fascination with magick and the supernatural had imbued Led Zeppelin’s work, and could even be traced back to the blues. But nobody had ever brought it all together in such a fashion. No one had dared to attempt something so distorted, original and just musically so morose. Black Sabbath gave birth here to the beast, and we all embraced a new, gloomy vision.“What set us apart from everyone else were our lyrics,” explains drummer Bill Ward. “There were a lot of great bands at the time – Zeppelin, Deep Purple, for instance – but none had those morbid lyrics like us. It’s what defined the band, made us unique.”Sabbath had started out under the name of the Polka Tulk Blues Company in 1968. It was the combination of refugees from a Carlisle band called Mythology (Tony, Bill) and Rare Breed (vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer). Located in the Aston area of Birmingham and augmented by slide guitarist Jimmy Phillips and saxophonist Alan Clarke, they were a heavy blues band, who quickly became Polka Tulk, and then Earth. By which point Jimmy Phillips and Alan Clarke had gone. “In those days, Birmingham was a real hothouse for blues bands,” explains Geezer. “There were loads of places to get gigs. But just about the only rock venue was Henry’s Blues House, above a pub in the middle of Birmingham. Everyone played there.”This was run by Jim Simpson, who was to become the band’s manager and who, in 1969, packed them off to play regularly in Germany, especially at the Star Club in Hamburg, made famous earlier in the decade by The Beatles.” http://classicrock.teamrock.com/features/2014-05-23/black-sabbath-iron-men

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