Album released this week in… 1970: Black Sabbath – Paranoid
A MERE four months after the release of their self-titled debut, British heavy metal gods Black Sabbath returned to the studio to record what would become one of the most influential albums in the history of hard rock. Originally titled War Pigs, the now famous title came from a song the band wrote during their recording sessions, with each member contributing to it. Paranoid is without a doubt one of the most influential and wide reaching albums of its time, being cited by such bands as Nirvana, Slipknot and Motorhead.
One of the greatest points about Paranoid is its wide appeal. Radio friendly tracks ‘Iron Man’ and the title track have for years proved popular with the masses. ‘Planet Caravan’ is a soft, beautiful piece that even your mum could enjoy. Tracks ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ and ‘Electric Funeral’ satisfy the heavier side of the music. Then of course there is the classic ‘War Pigs’, an apparent criticism of governments that Geezer Butler dismissed, claiming the song was simply about evil itself. There’s something for everyone on Paranoid; even the most alt-pop of people can admit they’ve sung along to the opening lines of ‘Iron Man’ at least once in their lives.
The band’s performance on the album feels incredibly youthful. It’s a band full to the brim with passion and music, before the age, the money and the drugs ravaged them. Osbourne’s vocals range from climactic and raucous (‘Iron Man’) to touching and moving (‘Planet Caravan’). Tony Iommi produces some of his slickest riffs over the pumping drum and bass produced by Bill Ward and Geezer Butler respectively (notably for Ward on ‘Rat Salad’). From a technical point of view, it’s hard to fault the skill of the band members. Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward were and are four exceedingly skilled musicians, and that comes across in the sheer quality of their tracks. Notably ‘Paranoid’, a song written in the spur of the moment, became a classic.
Without this album, the world of rock and metal would not have flourished, or at least not to the extent that it has. Grunge might as well have been a dream. Paranoid set the stage for heavy metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth to make their mark. Hell, if there was no Paranoid, there’d be no AM. Paranoid successfully infiltrated the world of rock, creating an entire genre (and the subgenres to go with it) that would grow and grow.
After releasing Paranoid, Black Sabbath would go on to achieve further fame, most notably with the albums Master of Reality and Vol. Four. Of course, both of these have their appeal, along with the rest of Sabbath’s long, trawling discography. But Paranoid will perhaps be forever known as the group’s magnum opus; a classic and a masterpiece in heavy rock without a doubt.
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