Review score: 95%
Review Date: June 2014
Reviewer: Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
What's that you say? You want to know about classic Black Sabbath's best album? Well, pull up a chair my son and wet my whistle with a pint of old metalhead's sheepdip.
Now, dear boy, for classic Ozzy era Black Sabbath, look no further than Paranoid. Simply put, it's a masterpiece. The roots of doom rock and stoner rock sprout forth from early Sabbath.
After recording their eponymous first album, Black Sabbath quickly started writing the followup. The occult themes are largely absent from Paranoid, although this may not have been the original intention. The original title was intended to be War Pigs (hence the blurry picture of a 'War Pig' on the cover), but this was subsequently changed to Paranoid. Some say due to the Viet Nam war, others (including Ozzy) say due to the success of the single Paranoid. Either way it doesn't matter, cos we still have a great album on our hands.
According to Tony Iommi's biographical book Iron Man, Geezer Butler changed the original title for this song from Walpurgis, which at first, er, glance sounds like an occult reference to Walpurgisnacht - the Night of the Witches. But as I mentioned earlier, occult influences are not so clearly in-yer-face with the Sabs second album. As openers go, the air raid sirens and the blast of doom metal lead us into a l-o-n-g number very critical of war and the way the 1% hide behind the rest of us and get the poor to do their fighting for them.
If you youtube around a bit you can find some interesting old jams of War Pigs with wildly different lyrics, but the studio version of War Pigs is one of those enduring songs of yesteryear which lives on in so many people's memories that at any given point in time, someone, somewhere in the world probably has it playing in their heads. It went on to be a great crowd pleaser at live gigs.
Black Sabbath's best known song, and a terrific single, which was released half a year after the Sabs first and eponymous album. Churned out quickly with a simplistic, quick-fire duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-derr-duh riff, and (it has to be said) lyrically baffling if you know what paranoia really means, the single went on to do amazingly well, Top of the Pops-tastic, boys, girls and pop-pickers. Covered more times than you can bang a head at, Paranoid is an all time metal classic.
Awesome laidback tripped-out-chill-out music, a complete change of pace from the heavy metalistic War Pigs and Paranoid. If you are streaming Black Sabbath tracks then you will miss out on the experience if you only listen to the singles and their better known tracks. With this album you really do need to listen to the full album in order to get the best experience. Try it!
Coming with a massive, immortal guitar riff, Iron Man is another masterpiece from the hallowed halls of ancient heavy metal. A sci-fi story about a guy who was turned to metal, and nowt to do with the comic book character of the same name. And yet, entertainingly, referenced in the Iron Man movie series. Gotta be listened to.
Originally the start of side two of the Paranoid album, Electric Funeral is Stoner rock with a capital psychedelic S. Turn up, tune in, zone out and float along for a bit, then Bill's drums and Tony + Geezer's guitars speed up and rip you along at great pace into the electric funereal entertaining dirge.
Hand of Doom
Anti war sentiments bigtime here in what is one of the greatest Sabbath songs. A cautionary tale of the impossibility of escaping the horrors of war unscathed. Even if physically unharmed, the psychological horrors haunt participants forever. See, with the second album, Black Sabbath's occult stuff is hidden away because War is portrayed as the Big Evil, to paraphrase something Geezer once said.
Following the lengthy Hand of Doom, Rat Salad is a refreshing two and a half minutes of solo jamming and an opportunity for Bill Ward to showcase his stickwork.
Fairies Wear Boots
Lyrics are having a pop at skinheads. Musically, Fairies Wear Boots is a final masterpiece of doom metal, with a momentous wall of sound riff to carry it through psycho metal into a jack the stripper guitar solo.
Paranoid is a triff album, and will have a place in the history books for ever. The album is a showcase for Black Sabbaths skills and early originality. A band whose mastery of dark rock has been much emulated and honoured over several decades, and whose legacy was founded upon this era of the Sabbath history.
The fact that it is one of the highest scoring albums on Rock Hard Reviews should tell you all you need to know. Now, how about buying me another tankard of old metalhead's sheepdip?
Track List (Varies -- choose between the deluxe version or the original recording remastered version according to your taste!)
- War Pigs
- Planet Caravan
- Iron Man
- Electric Funeral
- Hand of Doom
- Rat Salad
- Fairies Wear Boots