Black Sabbath (album)

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Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath debut album.jpg
Studio album by
Released13 February 1970 (1970-02-13)
Recorded16 October 1969
StudioRegent Sound Studios, London, England
Genre Heavy metal
Length38:12
Label Vertigo
Producer Rodger Bain
Black Sabbath chronology
Black Sabbath
(1970)
Paranoid
(1970)
Singles from Black Sabbath
  1. "Evil Woman / Wicked World"
    Released: 9 January 1970

Black Sabbath is the debut studio album by the English rock band Black Sabbath. Released on 13 February 1970 in the United Kingdom and on 1 June 1970 in the United States, the album reached number eight on the UK Albums Charts and number 23 on the Billboard charts. Black Sabbath is widely considered the first heavy metal album. [1] Additionally, the opening track of the album—Black Sabbath—is widely considered to be the first doom metal song. [2]

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

The Official Albums Chart is a list of albums ranked by physical and digital sales and audio streaming in the United Kingdom. It was published for the first time on 22 July 1956 and is compiled every week by the Official Charts Company (OCC) on Fridays. It is broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and published in Music Week magazine, and on the OCC website.

Contents

Recording

According to Black Sabbath's guitarist and founding member Tony Iommi, the group's debut album was recorded in a single day on 16 October 1969. [3] [nb 1] The session lasted twelve hours. [5] Iommi said: "We just went in the studio and did it in a day, we played our live set and that was it. We actually thought a whole day was quite a long time, then off we went the next day to play for £20 in Switzerland." [6] Aside from the bells, thunder and rain sound effects added to the beginning of the opening track, and the double-tracked guitar solos on "N.I.B." and "Sleeping Village", there were virtually no overdubs added to the album. [3] Iommi recalls recording live: "We thought, 'We have two days to do it and one of the days is mixing.' So we played live. Ozzy (Osbourne) was singing at the same time, we just put him in a separate booth and off we went. We never had a second run of most of the stuff." [7]

Tony Iommi British guitarist and composer

Anthony Frank Iommi is an English guitarist, songwriter and producer. He was lead guitarist and one of the four founder members of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He was the band's primary composer and sole continual member for nearly five decades.

"N.I.B." is a song released by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. It first appeared as the fourth track on the band's 1970 debut album, Black Sabbath. The lyrics are in the first person from the point of view of Lucifer. Lyricist Geezer Butler has said that "the song was about the devil falling in love and totally changing, becoming a good person."

The key to the band's new sound on the album was Iommi's distinctive playing style that he developed after an accident at a sheet metal factory where he was working at the age of 17 in which the tips of the middle fingers of his fretting hand were severed. Iommi created a pair of false fingertips using plastic from a dish detergent bottle and detuned the strings on his guitar to make it easier for him to bend the strings, creating a massive, heavy sound. "I'd play a load of chords and I'd have to play fifths because I couldn't play fourths because of my fingers," Iommi explained to Phil Alexander in Mojo in 2013. "That helped me develop my style of playing, bending the strings and hitting the open string at the same time just to make the sound wilder." In the same article bassist Geezer Butler added, "Back then the bass player was supposed to do all these melodic runs, but I didn't know how to do that because I'd been a guitarist, so all I did was follow Tony's riff. That made the sound heavier."

<i>Mojo</i> (magazine) magazine

Mojo is a popular music magazine published initially by Emap, and since January 2008 by Bauer, monthly in the United Kingdom. Following the success of the magazine Q, publishers Emap were looking for a title that would cater for the burgeoning interest in classic rock music. Mojo was first published on 15 October 1993; in keeping with its classic rock aesthetic, the first issue had Bob Dylan and John Lennon as its first cover stars. Noted for its in-depth coverage of both popular and cult acts, it acted as the inspiration for Blender and Uncut. Many noted music critics have written for it, including Charles Shaar Murray, Greil Marcus, Nick Kent and Jon Savage. The launch editor of Mojo was Paul Du Noyer and his successors have included Mat Snow, Paul Trynka and Pat Gilbert.

Geezer Butler English musician, bassist and lyricist of Black Sabbath

Terence Michael Joseph "Geezer" Butler is an English musician and songwriter. Butler is best known as the bassist and primary lyricist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He has also recorded with Heaven & Hell, GZR, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Iommi began recording the album with a white Fender Stratocaster, his guitar of choice at the time, but a malfunctioning pickup forced him to finish recording with a Gibson SG, a guitar he had recently purchased as a backup but had "never really played". The SG was a right-handed model which the left-handed Iommi played upside down. Soon after recording the album, he met a right-handed guitarist who was playing a left-handed SG upside down, and the two agreed to swap guitars; this is the SG that Iommi modified and later "put out to pasture" at the Hard Rock Cafe. [3]

Fender Stratocaster electric guitar

The Fender Stratocaster is a model of electric guitar designed in 1954 by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares. The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has continuously manufactured the Stratocaster from 1954 to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top "horn" shape for balance. Along with the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Telecaster, it is one of the most-often emulated electric guitar shapes. "Stratocaster" and "Strat" are trademark terms belonging to Fender. Guitars that duplicate the Stratocaster by other manufacturers are usually called S-Type or ST-type guitars.

Pickup (music technology) transducer that captures or senses mechanical vibrations produced by musical instruments

A pickup is a transducer that captures or senses mechanical vibrations produced by musical instruments, particularly stringed instruments such as the electric guitar, and converts these to an electrical signal that is amplified using an instrument amplifier to produce musical sounds through a loudspeaker in a speaker enclosure. The signal from a pickup can also be recorded directly.

Gibson SG electric guitar

The Gibson SG is a solid-body electric guitar model that was introduced in 1961 by Gibson, and remains in production today with many variations on the initial design available. The SG Standard is Gibson's best-selling model of all time.

Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne has always spoken fondly of the recording of the band's debut album, stating in his autobiography I Am Ozzy , "Once we'd finished, we spent a couple of hours double-tracking some of the guitar and vocals, and that was that. Done. We were in the pub in time for last orders. It can't have taken any longer than twelve hours in total. That's how albums should be made, in my opinion." Drummer Bill Ward agrees, telling Guitar World in 2001, "I think the first album is just absolutely incredible. It's naïve, and there's an absolute sense of unity – it's not contrived in any way, shape or form. We weren't old enough to be clever. I love it all, including the mistakes!" In an interview for the Classic Albums series in 2010 Butler added, "It was literally live in the studio. I mean, (producer) Rodger Bain, I think he's a genius the way he captured the band in such a short time." In his autobiography Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath, Iommi plays down the producer's role, insisting, "We didn't choose to work with Rodger Bain, he was chosen for us ... He was good to have around, but we didn't really get a lot of advice from him. He maybe suggested a couple of things, but the songs were already fairly structured and sorted."

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne, also known as The Prince of Darkness, is an English vocalist, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He was fired from the band in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the United States. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined the band in 1997 and recorded the group’s final studio album 13 (2013) before they embarked on a farewell tour which culminated in a final performance in their home city Birmingham, England in February 2017. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".

<i>I Am Ozzy</i> book

I Am Ozzy is the autobiography of Ozzy Osbourne, vocalist of Black Sabbath and solo singer. It chronicles his life, beginning as a child, followed by his career as a vocalist. The book was widely praised by its readers for its level of detail, and humor. It currently holds a 4.6/5 rating on Amazon.com.

Bill Ward (musician) English musician

William Thomas Ward is an English musician and visual artist, best known as the original drummer of the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He also performed lead vocals on two Black Sabbath songs: "It's Alright" from the album Technical Ecstasy and "Swinging the Chain" from the album Never Say Die!. Ward is known for his very unorthodox style of playing the drums, often using snare-drills and tempo-drop to match both vocals and riff.

Genre

AllMusic's Steve Huey feels that Black Sabbath marks "the birth of heavy metal as we now know it". [8] In his opinion, the album "transcends its clear roots in blues-rock and psychedelia to become something more". [8] He ascribes its "sonic ugliness" as a reflection of "the bleak industrial nightmare" of the group's hometown, Birmingham, England. [8] Huey notes the first side's allusions to themes characteristic of heavy metal, including evil, paganism, and the occult, "as filtered through horror films and the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, and Dennis Wheatley." [8] He characterises side two as "given over to loose blues-rock jamming learned through" the English rock band Cream. [8]

AllMusic online music guide service website

AllMusic is an online database music website. It catalogs more than 3 million album entries and 30 million tracks, as well as information on artists and bands. It was launched in 1991, predating the World Wide Web.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Psychedelia Subculture of people who use psychedelic drugs

Psychedelia is the subculture, originating in the 1960s, of people who often use psychedelic drugs such as LSD, mescaline and psilocybin. The term is also used to describe a style of psychedelic artwork and psychedelic music. Psychedelic art and music typically try to recreate or reflect the experience of altered consciousness. Psychedelic art uses highly distorted and surreal visuals, bright colors and full spectrums and animation to evoke and convey to a viewer or listener the artist's experience while using such drugs, or to enhance the experience of a user of these drugs. Psychedelic music uses distorted electric guitar, Indian music elements such as the sitar, electronic effects, sound effects and reverberation, and elaborate studio effects, such as playing tapes backwards or panning the music from one side to another.

In the opinion of the author and former Metal Maniacs magazine editor Jeff Wagner, Black Sabbath is the "generally accepted starting point" when heavy metal "became distinct from rock and roll". [1] In his opinion, the album transfigured blues rock into "something uglier, found deeper gravity via mournful singing and a sinister rhythmic pulse". [1] According to Rolling Stone magazine, "the album that arguably invented heavy metal was built on thunderous blues-rock". [9] Sputnikmusic's Mike Stagno notes that Black Sabbath's combined elements of rock, jazz and blues, with heavy distortion created one of the most influential albums in the history of heavy metal. [10] In retrospect, Black Sabbath has been lauded as perhaps the first true heavy metal album. [11] It has also been credited as the first record in the stoner rock [12] and goth genres. [13]

Taking a broader perspective, Pete Prown of Vintage Guitar says, "The debut Black Sabbath album of 1970 was a watershed moment in heavy rock, but it was part of a larger trend of artists, producers, and engineers already moving towards the sound we now call hard rock and heavy metal. The previous year had already seen authentic, metal-edged music from Led Zeppelin ("Whole Lotta Love," "Heartbreaker") and the Jeff Beck Group ("Plynth"), as well as the new trio Mountain, which played a breakthrough performance at the Woodstock festival in August 1969. Sabbath's debut LP in the UK (February 1970) was matched a few weeks later by Mountain's Climbing! album and its proto-metal hit, "Mississippi Queen". So while Black Sabbath was a crucial band in heavy metal's arrival, it's important to remember they were not alone. The year 1970 further saw pivotal early metal releases from Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, as well as Sabbath's own Paranoid album that fall. Even the track "Immigrant Song" from Led Zeppelin III can be reasonably categorized as metal." [14]

Music and lyrics

Black Sabbath's music and lyrics were quite dark for the time. The opening track is based almost entirely on a tritone interval played at slow tempo on the electric guitar. [15] In the 2010 Classic Albums documentary on the making of the band's second album Paranoid, Geezer Butler claims the riff was inspired by "Mars, the Bringer of War", a movement in Gustav Holst's The Planets . Iommi reinterpreted the riff slightly and redefined the band's direction. Ward told Classic Albums, "When Oz sang 'What is this that stands before me?' it became completely different...this was a different lyric now, this was a different feel. I was playing drums to the words." The song's lyrics concern a "figure in black" which bassist Geezer Butler claims to have seen after waking up from a nightmare. [11] In the liner notes to the band's 1998 live album Reunion the bassist remembers:

I'd been raised a Catholic so I totally believed in the Devil. There was a weekly magazine called Man, Myth and Magic that I started reading which was all about Satan and stuff. That and books by Aleister Crowley and Dennis Wheatley, especially The Devil Rides Out ... I'd moved into this flat I'd painted black with inverted crosses everywhere. Ozzy gave me this 16th Century book about magic that he'd stolen from somewhere. I put it in the airing cupboard because I wasn't sure about it. Later that night I woke up and saw this black shadow at the end of the bed. It was a horrible presence that frightened the life out of me! I ran to the airing cupboard to throw the book out, but the book had disappeared. After that I gave up all that stuff. It scared me shitless.

Similarly, the lyrics of the song "N.I.B." are written from the point of view of Lucifer, who falls in love with a human woman and "becomes a better person" according to lyricist Butler. [16] Contrary to popular belief, the name of that song is not an abbreviation for Nativity in Black ; [3] according to Osbourne's autobiography it is merely a reference to drummer Bill Ward's pointed goatee at the time, which was shaped as a pen-nib. [17] The lyrics of two other songs on the album were written about stories with mythological themes. "Behind the Wall of Sleep" is a reference to the H. P. Lovecraft short story Beyond the Wall of Sleep , [4] while "The Wizard" was inspired by the character of Gandalf from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings . [18] The latter includes harmonica performed by Osbourne. [4] The band also recorded a cover of "Evil Woman", a song that had been an American hit for the band Crow. In his autobiography, Iommi admits the band reluctantly agreed to do the song at the behest of their manager Jim Simpson, who insisted they record something commercial.

Artwork

Mapledurham Watermill Mapledurham Watermill 3.JPG
Mapledurham Watermill

The Black Sabbath album cover features a depiction of Mapledurham Watermill, situated on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England. Standing in front of the watermill is a figure dressed in black. [19] The name of the woman pictured on the front cover is forgotten, though guitarist Iommi says that she once showed up backstage at a Black Sabbath show and introduced herself. [3] According to feelnumb.com, which featured an article on the album cover, "Not much is known about the eerie woman used in the photo other than she was a model/actress hired for the day and her name was Louise." [20]

The inner gatefold sleeve of the original release was designed by Keith McMillan (credited as Marcus Keef) and featured an inverted cross with a poem written inside of it. [21] Allegedly, the band were upset when they discovered this, [4] as it fuelled allegations that they were satanists or occultists; [3] however, in Osbourne's memoirs, he says that to the best of his knowledge nobody was upset with the inclusion. [22] "Suddenly we had all these crazy people turning up at shows," Iommi remembered in Mojo in 2013. "I think Alex Sanders (high priest of the Wiccan religion) turned up at a gig once. It was all quite strange, really." The album was not packaged with a gatefold cover in the U.S. In the liner notes to Reunion, Phil Alexander states, "Unbeknownst to the band, Black Sabbath was launched in the U.S. with a party with the head of the Church of Satan, Anton Lavey, presiding over the proceedings...All of a sudden Sabbath were Satan's Right Hand Men."

Release

Black Sabbath was recorded for Fontana Records, but prior to release the record company elected to switch the band to another of their labels, Vertigo Records, which housed the company's more progressive acts. [23] Released on Friday the 13th February 1970 by Vertigo Records, Black Sabbath reached number eight on the UK Albums Charts. [24] Following its United States release in June 1970 by Warner Bros. Records, the album reached number 23 on the Billboard 200, [25] [26] where it remained for more than a year and sold one million copies. [27] [28]

Reception

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [8]
Christgau's Record Guide C– [29]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [30]
MusicHound Rock 4/5 [31]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [32]
Sputnikmusic 4/5 [10]

Black Sabbath received generally negative reviews from contemporary critics. [33] Rolling Stone's Lester Bangs described the band as, "just like Cream! But worse", and he dismissed the album as "a shuck – despite the murky songtitles and some inane lyrics that sound like Vanilla Fudge paying doggerel tribute to Aleister Crowley, the album has nothing to do with spiritualism, the occult, or anything much except stiff recitations of Cream clichés". [34] Robert Christgau, writing for The Village Voice , panned the album as "bullshit necromancy." [35] He later described it as a reflection of "the worst of the counterculture," including "drug-impaired reaction time" and "long solos." [29]

Legacy

Retrospective reviews of Black Sabbath have been positive. In AllMusic, Huey said it was a highly innovative debut album with several classic metal songs, including the title track, which he felt had the "most definitive heavy metal riffs of all time". Huey was also impressed by how the band's "slowed-down, murky guitar rock bludgeons the listener in an almost hallucinatory fashion, reveling in its own dazed, druggy state of consciousness". [8] In The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), the journalist Scott Seward highlighted Bain's grandiose production on "an album that eats hippies for breakfast." [32] In the opinion of Mike Stagno of Sputnikmusic, "both fans of blues influenced hard rock and heavy metal of all sorts should find something they like on the album." [10] BBC Music's Pete Marsh referred to Black Sabbath as an "album that changed the face of rock music." [36] In Mick Wall's book Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe, Butler reflects, "The London press absolutely hated us when we made it 'cos they'd never written an article about us, they didn't know of us. When our first album, the first week, went straight into the charts, the London press went, like, what the hell's going on here? And they've hated us ever since."[ citation needed ]

In 1989, Kerrang! ranked Black Sabbath number 31 on their "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time". [37] In 1994, it was ranked number 12 in Colin Larkin's Top 50 Heavy Metal Albums . Larkin praised the album's "crushing atmosphere of doom", which he described as "intense and relentless". [38] In 2000, Q magazine included Black Sabbath in their list of the "Best Metal Albums of All Time", stating: "[This album] was to prove so influential it remains a template for metal bands three decades on." [39] In 2005, it was ranked number 238 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; [5] it was ranked number 243 in a revised edition of the list in 2012. [40] Rolling Stone ranked Black Sabbath number 44 in their list of the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time, describing the title track as the song that "would define the sound of a thousand bands". [9] Additionally, in 2017, the magazine ranked it 5th on their list of "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". [41] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die . [42]

Track listing

All songs credited to Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osbourne, except where noted.

European edition

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Black Sabbath"6:20
2."The Wizard"4:24
3."Behind the Wall of Sleep"3:37
4."N.I.B."6:08
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
5."Evil Woman" (Crow cover)
  • Larry Weigand
  • Dick Weigand
  • David Wagner
3:25
6."Sleeping Village" 3:46
7."Warning" (The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation cover)
10:28

North American edition

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Black Sabbath"6:20
2."The Wizard"4:22
3."Wasp / Behind the Wall of Sleep / Bassically / N.I.B."9:44
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
4."Wicked World" 4:47
5."A Bit of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning"
  • Iommi
  • Butler
  • Ward
  • Osbourne / Dunbar
  • Dmochowski
  • Hickling
  • Moorshead
14:15

Original North American Warner Bros. Records pressings of Black Sabbath quote incorrect running times for "Wicked World" and the "Warning" medley (4:30 and 14:32, respectively). These pressings also credit the album's original songs using the band members' given names: Anthony Iommi, John Osbourne, Terence Butler, and William Ward. [43] The Castle Communications edition of 1986 also featured a live version of "Tomorrow's Dream" as bonus track.

Disc two of the Deluxe Editions contains "N.I.B. (studio out-take)" with vocals which is incorrectly listed "N.I.B. (instrumental)".

Personnel

Black Sabbath

Production

Certifications

RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada) [44] Gold50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [45] Gold100,000^
United States (RIAA) [46] Platinum1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Notes

  1. Other sources give 17 November 1969 as the date of recording. [4]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Wagner 2010, p. 10.
  2. William Irwin, Black Sabbath and Philosophy: Mastering Reality (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), ISBN   978-1118397596
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Iommi & Lammers 2012 , chapter 16 - Black Sabbath records Black Sabbath
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Wells, David (2009). "Black Sabbath (1970)". Black Sabbath (CD Booklet). Black Sabbath. Sanctuary Records Group.
  5. 1 2 Levy 2005, p. 169.
  6. Black, Johnny (14 March 2009). "Black celebration: the holy grail of Black Sabbath". Music Week . Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  7. Rosen 1996 , p. 38
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Huey.
  9. 1 2 "The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time: 'Black Sabbath'". Rolling Stone . Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  10. 1 2 3 Stagno, Mike (15 August 2006). "Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath". Sputnikmusic . Retrieved 7 September 2013.
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  14. "Legends of Rock Guitar" by Pete Prown & HP Newquist (Hal Leonard, 1997)
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  16. Black Sabbath Story Vol. 1. Warner Music. 3 November 1992.
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  23. Iommi & Lammers 2012 , chapter 17 - Now under new management
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  44. "Canadian album certifications – Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath". Music Canada.
  45. "British album certifications – Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Black Sabbath in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  46. "American album certifications – Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath". Recording Industry Association of America.If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

Bibliography

Further reading