Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Warner Bros. Records
Heavy Metal
8 songs (41'58)
Release year: 1970
Black Sabbath, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Marty
Ask any Sabbath fan to name their favorite albums by the band and I'm sure this one will top many of the lists. The classic line-up of Ozzy Osbourne - vocals, Tony Iommi - guitars, Geezer Butler - bass and Bill Ward - drums produced many great albums but it's this album, Paranoid that helped launch the band's career in a big way. Released in 1971, this album quickly shot up the charts in Europe and in the U.S. The massive European and U.S. Tour that followed was a huge success and spawned the title track hit single that is still a concert favorite both with Black Sabbath and with Ozzy's solo performances even to this day. Warner Brothers records released the band's debut album, simply titled, Black Sabbath on Friday the 13th, 1970 and much to the dismay of the band, put an inverted cross on the sleeve for the record. Fearing any more public backlash with their new album, the title and title track were changed from Walpurgis (The Witch's Sabbath), to War Pigs. The lyrics for War Pigs were changed as well. The original version of this song with the original lyrics can be found on Ozzy's The Ozzman Cometh. It was decided to have a man dressed in a pig mask wielding a sword on the front cover. It ended up being called Paranoid and just a blurred photo of a man with a sword (no pig mask), graced the new cover. This was all done by the record company without permission from of the band. (Spinal Tap anyone!).

Master Of Reality was the first Black Sabbath album that I owned. I bought it when I was 11 years old off of a friend's older brother who didn't like it (that was the summer of 1972). I immediately became obsessed with the album and played it all the time. I had been introduced to hard rock by my older brother who had lots of Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin albums, but this Sabbath stuff was something totally different, something very unique and very powerful. I'd never heard a band sound so good and so heavy at the same time. I was immediately hooked! Within a couple of weeks after getting Master Of Reality, I used my hard earned paper route money to buy both Paranoid and Volume 4. I didn't get the first one until a few months later. I'll never forget the first listen to the Paranoid album, the ominous foreboding intro to War Pigs with the air raid sirens launching into a scathing look at the senseless death and destruction that took place during the Vietnam War (which was in full force by then). That song is still in my opinion, one of the greatest hard rock/metal songs ever written and one of my all-time favorite songs. The sudden stops, Ozzy's solo vocal lines and the many guitar riffs and changes that all culminated to a big and stunning finish was quite simply, musical perfection. A perfectly written, arranged and performed song with amazing energy. The title track, Paranoid was something the band wrote very quickly, needing another song, and ended up being the band's only hit single. Die hard fans were already accusing them of selling out and the band vowed to never write another song with "hit single" qualities again. Planet Caravan is a dreamy psychedelic quiet little number with quiet guitar and bass and some electronically altered vocals. Bongos, played by Bill provide the only percussion. Even though it's way out of context with the rest of the album, it's an interesting piece and is a different slant on the obligatory "ballad" that every band was pressured into doing back then.

Iron Man, another classic tune, starts out with Bill's big heavy bass drum and some ominous E string up-bends by Tony with Ozzy's synthesized voice. The main riff is pure metal and the song, like War Pigs, has lots of riff changes, solo bridges and again has a big climactic ending. Lyrically, it deals with the concept of a futuristic robot who is bent on wreaking havoc on those who have mistreated him. Electric Funeral begins with a slow eerie beat with some cool Wah guitar by Tony and deals with the threat of nuclear holocaust that existed throughout the 60's and 70's. The imagery in it's brutality that this song presents is a stark reminder of what will happen if we ever go down that pathway. This song has one of the Sabbath trademark sudden tempo changes that they love to do. Usually mid song with some of the longer songs, sudden tempo changes will take the song in a totally different direction only to return abruptly to the main riff and continue on. This sort of thing is also found on the next track, Hand Of Doom which starts out with some bass lines by Geezer followed by drums and then Ozzy's ominous warning about the perils of drug abuse. The alternating quiet and heavy passages really adds drama and the lyrical imagery paints a very scary picture in your mind of the life of a heroin addict.

Rat Salad is Black Sabbath's answer to Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick. It's an instrumental piece with some great heavy guitar, bass and drum riffing and is highlighted by a drum solo by Bill Ward. The last track, another Sabbath classic, Fairies Wear Boots, was written about an attack on Geezer Butler by a group of skinheads. Musically, this song is structured much like songs such as War Pigs and Iron Man. Lots of guitar riff changes and tempo changes are all built around a main riff which serves as the backing riff for the vocals. The song finishes with some great lead arpeggios by Tony.

All of the classic Black Sabbath trademarks as far as songwriting, arranging, sound and vocal delivery by Ozzy were pretty much born on this album. Their first album was a little rough around the edges especially due to the fact that the band only had 2 days to record it! Paranoid was released almost a year later and the difference in the quality of songs and the sound of the band was staggering. Every album they did from here on showed a maturity taking place and they seemed to change things about their sound for every album. Songs such as War Pigs and Iron Man are true heavy metal classics that are still heard with regularity on FM radio throughout the world even today. Thirty years later, this band is still popular and still very influential in what we hear not only in metal music but in modern popular music as well. This album is one of the main reasons for that.

Killing Songs :
Marty quoted CLASSIC
Jeff quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Black Sabbath that we have reviewed:
Black Sabbath - 13 reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Black Sabbath - Classic Albums - Paranoid (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Black Sabbath - Headless Cross reviewed by Adam and quoted 81 / 100
Black Sabbath - Forbidden reviewed by Khelek and quoted 65 / 100
Black Sabbath - Mob Rules reviewed by Khelek and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 22 reviews click here
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