Friday, 21 June 2013

Black Sabbath Back on Top After 43 Years!

The last time I listened to something, I couldn’t help but notice that my hearing is still in reasonable nick, which, I suppose, means that I can’t really claim to be a massive heavy metal fan.  Which is true…up to a point.  Apart from a couple of concerts that left my ears buzzing for days after, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to massive hearing loss.  Yet back in the early 70s I confess to a cautious dabbling in the dark arts as a number of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath LPs in my collection will bear witness.  Obviously, none of these albums could really be construed as the real hard stuff, more a sort of metal-lite and listening back to them now, they sound much tamer than I remember and altogether more tuneful than you might expect.

Nevertheless, it seems I have retained a bit of a soft spot for Black Sabbath and as they have just taken the number one album spot with ‘13’ – their first number one for 43 years, I’ve been inspired to purchase one or two newly re-mastered downloads of worn vinyl LPs so that I can relive their majestic grunge all over again.  Back in the day, my first purchase was ‘Volume 4’, an album that used to get played a lot on ‘Fluff’ Freeman’s Saturday afternoon rock show.  This was followed by the magnificent ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ and ‘Sabotage’ – the one with possibly the worst cover of all time - at which point I rather lost interest and moved on to other pastures, namely punk.

In retrospect, there is something gloriously uncomplicated about the Black Country foursome that even today warms the cockles of my rock heart.  Their Midlands based heavy industrial heritage seems to have a voice in their pounding rhythms and grinding riffs as if the factories themselves have manufactured them to order.  There’s nothing I like better than the sound of a Gibson SG and with Tony Iommi’s industrial-accident fingers on the fretboard, that fat buzzing sound has never sounded better, especially when he is constructing those spiralling duets over a crunching riff.

The only issue I have with listening to old Sabbath albums now is Ozzy Osbourne.  I really struggle to reconcile the wild young singer of then with the comedy figure and star of ‘The Osbournes’ of now.  Is it really the same person?  Weird.  I can’t help feeling that Sharon would make a scarier front-person now.  However, that disturbing image aside, it has been a welcome return to the fold for my selected Sabbath albums, ones that will sit on my iPod for a little longer whilst I revel in some industrial heritage.  Unfortunately both the industry and the music have gone, to be replaced by electronics in both instances.  That’s progress for you.

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