BLACK SABBATH - paranoia, heaven and hell

BLACK SABBATH - Paranoia, Himmel und Hölle

Almost exactly 50 years ago, on September 18, 1970 - the anniversary of Jimi Hendrix' death - Black Sabbath released their second album "Paranoid". After their debut at the beginning of 1970, which in a way was the beginning of heavy metal, they cemented their reputation with their successor and created songs for eternity. Less than a decade later, after Ozzy Osbourne's temporary departure, the band reinvented themselves with new vocalist Ronnie James Dio and producer Martin Birch. The 1980 album "Heaven And Hell" still stands for high-class heavy rock today and still causes religious wars among fans over the question of when the Sabbath star shone brightest.

Ozzy Osbourne's later wife Sharon, the daughter of Black Sabbath manager Don Arden, of all people, introduced Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi to each other in Los Angeles in 1979. "I had several options after Ritchie Blackmore didn't want me on Rainbow, but when I met Tony, it was clear to me that a band with him could be the immediate next step," the singer-god, who died in 2010, told the author of these lines in an interview in 1990. While Iommi and Dio began to make plans for their joint project, Sharon set about rescuing Ozzy Osbourne from total collapse and brought him back to England. In view of the great success of his solo debut "Blizzard Of Ozz", recorded there in 1980, it proved to be the right decision for him in retrospect that he, unnerved, had stopped recording the album "Heaven And Hell" in 1979, as he had had enough of experiments and wanted to return to the sound of "Paranoid".

A drastic anti-war song and a three-minute filler that became classics

Originally, the second Sabbath album was to be called "War Pigs", but the record company at the time insisted that the aggressive anti-Vietnam War statement not be featured on the album cover. The song stood for the political and cultural events of 1970 in a similar way as "Child In Time" by Deep Purple. If one were to choose only two songs that stand for this year, which is as important as it is diverse in terms of music history, it would have to be these two songs. The title track "Paranoid" was another over-song that made the band rise to the Rock-Olymp. In fact, this single hit, which afterwards could not be missed in any Sabbath or Ozzy live setlist, was written within a very short time. "We needed a three-minute filler and created a monster song," recalled drummer Bill Ward. "I don't remember if it took an hour from Tony's first riffs to the final recording It had to be done quickly in those days. The procedure was somewhat reminiscent of the genesis of the deep-purple hit "Black Night" from 1970: Tony Iommi hammered a riff out of nowhere in the studio, Bill Ward entered thunderously, Ozzy Osbourne hummed a melody to it, and Geezer Butler wrote the lyrics simultaneously

Man of iron

The third song monolith of the album is "Iron Man". Ozzy made Tony Iommis riff think of a "big iron bloke running around". A prime example for the typical Osbourne songwriting part: Iommi gets going, Ozzy screams "It sounds like a big iron bloke!", finally Butler writes a lyric called "Iron Man". But it was exactly this unplanned approach that made up the early Sabbath. Considering the fact that the four musicians were on average 21 years old at the time of the recordings, which lasted only a few days, this seems more logical than surprising. Apart from these three outstanding songs, the other titles did not at all have the function of filler material: "Electric Funeral", "Rat Salad" and "Planet Caravan" demonstrate the stylistic diversity of the band, "Hand Of Doom" and especially "Fairies Wear Boots" also have classic status today

Rock classics with different track records

Although "Heaven And Hell" also became a great commercial success, the band remained far behind the sales figures of "Paranoid": almost 2 million were compared to 6 million records sold worldwide. Ozzy's "Blizzard Of Ozz", released the same year, showed that the 6 million mark was still achievable. Nevertheless, all three albums are regarded as classics today - especially because the last two Sabbath works of the 70s, "Technical Ecstasy" (1976) and "Never Say Die! (1978), in the opinion of many, were neither distinguished by musical grandeur nor commercially successful by Sabbath standards. For Osbourne and his previous band, the 1979 split was therefore a win-win situation. The same applied to the two previous Rainbow musicians Bob Daisley and Ronnie James Dio, who had been shown the red Blackmore card in 1978 and were now able to join Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath respectively.

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