Sabotage (Black Sabbath album)

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Sabotage
Black Sabbath Sabotage.jpg
Studio album by
Released28 July 1975
RecordedFebruary–March 1975
Studio Morgan Studios, London, England
Genre Heavy metal
Length43:44
Label Vertigo
Producer Black Sabbath, Mike Butcher
Black Sabbath chronology
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
(1973)
Sabotage
(1975)
Technical Ecstasy
(1976)

Sabotage is the sixth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in July 1975. It was recorded in the midst of litigation with their former manager Patrick Meehan and the stress that resulted from the band's ongoing legal woes infiltrated the recording process, inspiring the album's title. It was co-produced by guitarist Tony Iommi and Mike Butcher.

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, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler 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.

Patrick Anthony Meehan is a record producer who worked with Black Sabbath. He was also their manager until 1975.

Contents

Recording

Black Sabbath began work on their sixth album in February 1975, again in England at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London. The title Sabotage was chosen because the band were at the time being sued by their former management and felt they were being "sabotaged all the way along the line and getting punched from all sides", according to Iommi. [1] "It was probably the only album ever made with lawyers in the studio," said drummer Bill Ward. [2] Iommi credits those legal troubles for the album's angry, heavier sound. [1]

Willesden area in North West London, England

Willesden is an area in north west London which forms part of the London Borough of Brent. It is situated 5 miles (8 km) northwest of Charing Cross. It was historically a parish in the county of Middlesex that was incorporated as the Municipal Borough of Willesden in 1933, and has formed part of the London Borough of Brent in Greater London since 1965. Dollis Hill is also sometimes referred to as being part of Willesden.

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!.

In 2001, bassist Geezer Butler explained to Dan Epstein, "Around the time of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath , we found out that we were being ripped off by our management and our record company. So, much of the time, when we weren't onstage or in the studio, we were in lawyer's offices trying to get out of all our contracts. We were literally in the studio, trying to record, and we'd be signing all these affidavits and everything. That's why it's called Sabotage – because we felt that the whole process was just being totally sabotaged by all these people ripping us off." In his autobiography I Am Ozzy, singer Ozzy Osbourne confirms that "writs were being delivered to us at the mixing desk" and that Ward "was manning the phones". In the liner notes to the 1998 live album Reunion, Butler claimed the band suffered through 10 months of legal cases and admitted, "Music became irrelevant to me. It was a relief just to write a song."

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 and performed with Heaven & Hell, GZR, and Ozzy Osbourne. He currently serves as bassist of Deadland Ritual.

<i>Sabbath Bloody Sabbath</i> 1973 studio album by Black Sabbath

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the fifth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in December 1973. It was produced by the band and recorded at Morgan Studios in London in September 1973.

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English singer, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which he adopted the nickname "The Prince of Darkness". Osbourne 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".

Iommi later reflected, "We could've continued and gone on and on, getting more technical, using orchestras and everything else which we didn't particularly want to. We took a look at ourselves, and we wanted to do a rock album – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath wasn't a rock album, really." [3] According to the book How Black Was Our Sabbath, "The recording sessions would usually carry on into the middle of the night. Tony Iommi was working really hard on the production side of things with the band's co-producer Mike Butcher, and he was spending a lot of time working out his guitar sounds. Bill, too, was experimenting with the drums, especially favouring the 'backwards cymbal' effect." Osbourne, however, grew frustrated with how long Black Sabbath albums were taking to record, writing in his autobiography, "Sabotage took about four thousand years."

According to Iommi, the Sabotage sessions were the scene of a legendary jam session between Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. [4] Iommi's recollection may be inaccurate, however, as records show that Zeppelin were on tour in the US at the time Sabotage was being recorded. Ward's recollection of the exact timing of the Zeppelin jam session is also fuzzy. "I don't even know what album we were working on", the drummer explained. "But one of John (Bonham)'s favourite songs was 'Supernaut' – so, when they came down to the studio, he wanted to jam 'Supernaut'." [5]

Led Zeppelin English rock band

Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. Along with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the band's heavy, guitar-driven sound has led them to be cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal. Their style drew from a wide variety of influences, including blues, psychedelia and folk music.

Led Zeppelin North American Tour 1975

Led Zeppelin's 1975 North American Tour was the tenth concert tour of North America by the English rock band. The tour was divided into two legs, with performances commencing on 18 January and concluding on 27 March 1975. It was preceded with two European warm-up shows, performed at Rotterdam and Brussels respectively.

John Bonham English rock musician

John Henry Bonham was an English musician and songwriter, best known as the drummer for the British rock band Led Zeppelin. Esteemed for his speed, power, fast bass drumming, distinctive sound, and "feel" for the groove, he is regarded by many as the greatest and most influential rock drummer in history. In 2016, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number one in their list of the "100 Greatest Drummers of All Time".

Composition

Sabotage is a mix of heavy, powerful songs and softer experimental tunes, such as "Supertzar" and "Am I Going Insane (Radio)". In 2013 Mojo observed, "Opener 'Hole in the Sky' and the crunching 'Symptom of the Universe' illustrate that, for all their problems, Sabbath's power remained undimmed on what was what many consider one of their finest offerings." In the article "Thrash Metal - An Introduction" in University Times Magazine, Vladimir Rakhmanin cites "Symptom of the Universe" as one of the earliest examples of thrash metal, a heavy metal subgenre which emerged in the early 1980s. Tony Iommi describes the song's dynamics in his autobiography Iron Man: "It starts with an acoustic bit. Then it goes into the up-tempo stuff to give it that dynamic, and it does have a lot of changes to it, including the jam at the end." The final part of "Symptom of the Universe" evolved from an in-studio improvisation, created very spontaneously in a single day and the decision was made to use it in that song. [1] The English Chamber Choir was brought in to perform on the song "Supertzar". When vocalist Ozzy Osbourne arrived at the studio and saw them, he thought he was in the wrong studio and left. [1] The title of the pop-leaning "Am I Going Insane (Radio)" caused some confusion due to the "(Radio)" part, which led people to believe the song was a radio cut or radio version. However, this is the only version of the song: the term "radio-rental" is rhyming slang for "mental". [6]

<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.

"Symptom of the Universe" is a song by the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, from their 1975 album Sabotage. The song was an early influence on the development of thrash metal.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

"The Writ" is one of only a handful of Black Sabbath songs to feature lyrics composed by vocalist Osbourne, [7] who typically relied on bassist Butler for lyrics. The song was inspired by the frustrations Osbourne felt at the time, as Black Sabbath's former manager Patrick Meehan was suing the band after having been fired. [7] The song viciously attacks the music business in general and is a savage diatribe directed towards Meehan specifically ("Are you Satan? Are you a man?"), with Osbourne revealing in his memoir, "I wrote most of the lyrics myself, which felt a bit like seeing a shrink. All the anger I felt towards Meehan came pouring out." During this period, the band began to question if there was any point to recording albums and touring endlessly "just to pay the lawyers". [7]

The brief instrumental "Don't Start (Too Late)" is an acoustic guitar showpiece for Iommi, titled for tape operator David Harris who often despaired at Sabbath being prone to start playing before he was ready. [8]

Artwork

Sabotage's front cover art has garnered mixed reactions over the years and is regarded by some as one of the worst album covers in rock history. [9] The inverted mirror concept was conceived by Graham Wright, Bill Ward's drum tech, who was also a graphic artist. [10] The band attended what they believed was a test photo shoot for the album cover, thus explaining their choice of clothing. Said Ward, "The only thing we didn't discuss was what we'd all wear on the day of the shot. Since that shoot day, the band has survived through a tirade of clothing comments and jokes that continue to this day". Ward, in fact, was wearing his wife's red tights in the photo. [1] Wright recalls in the book How Black Was Our Sabbath that the plan was for each band member to appear on the cover dressed in black and had been instructed to bring some stage clothes for preliminary photos, but when they arrived no black costumes had been laid out by the designers and "the original concept had been overruled." The designers "carried on with the shoot, explaining they would superimpose the images at a later stage and that it would look great, honest. The session was unbelievably rushed, and the outcome was far from what had been originally envisaged ... Ironically, the sleeve design that was intended to illustrate the idea of sabotage had instead become a victim of sabotage itself. By the time they saw it, it was too late to change." In 2013 Mojo commented the cover "provides a rare moment of light relief." On the back of the original album release, Geezer's arm is extended as the reflection is different.

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [11]
Rolling Stone favourable [12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [13]

Sabotage was released on 28 June 1975 and peaked at number 7 in the United Kingdom [14] and at number 28 in the United States. [15] It was certified Silver (60,000 units sold) in the UK by the BPI on 1 December 1975 [16] and Gold in the US on 16 June 1997, but was the band's first release not to achieve platinum status in the US. [17] For the second time, a Black Sabbath album initially saw favourable reviews, with Rolling Stone stating "Sabotage is not only Black Sabbath's best record since Paranoid , it might be their best ever", [12] although later reviewers such as Allmusic noted that "the magical chemistry that made such albums as Paranoid and Vol. 4 so special was beginning to disintegrate". [11] Guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen told Nick Bowcott of Guitar Player in 2008 that the riff to "Symptom of the Universe" was the first Tony Iommi riff he ever heard and that "Tony's use of the flat fifth would have got him burned at the stake a couple hundred years ago." In 2017, Rolling Stone ranked it 32nd on their "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time" list. [18]

The band toured the US in support of Sabotage in 1975, which included a filmed appearance for the prestigious series Don Kirshner's Rock Concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Sabbath played "Killing Yourself To Live", "Hole In The Sky", "Snowblind", "War Pigs" and "Paranoid". During Iommi's guitar solo during "Snowblind", plastic snowflakes were dropped from above on the audience and the band, a gimmick used during the band's live shows during this period. According to the book How Black Was Our Sabbath, "The audience was limited to just a couple thousand fans, and it seemed like the whole of LA got wind of it." Due to the band's expanding use of orchestras and other new sounds in the studio, the tour in support of Sabotage was the first in which Black Sabbath used a full-time keyboardist onstage, Gerald "Jezz" Woodroffe. [1] Black Sabbath toured with openers Kiss, but were forced to cut the tour short in November 1975, after vocalist Osbourne was injured in a motorcycle accident.

Track listing

All tracks written by Black Sabbath (Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward).

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Hole in the Sky"4:00
2."Don't Start (Too Late)" (Instrumental)0:49
3."Symptom of the Universe"6:29
4."Megalomania"9:46
Side two
No.TitleLength
5."The Thrill of It All"5:56
6."Supertzar" (Instrumental with vocalising choir)3:44
7."Am I Going Insane (Radio)"4:17
8."The Writ"8:46

Some versions of Sabotage contain a short hidden track entitled "Blow on a Jug" at the end of "The Writ", recorded at very low volume.

Personnel

Black Sabbath

Additional personnel

Certifications

RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI) [19] Silver60,000^
United States (RIAA) [20] Gold500,000^

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

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Iommi, Tony (2011). Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Da Capo Press. ISBN   978-0-30681-9551.
  2. Barackman, Michael (26 October 1976). "Sabbath surfaces". Circus #142.
  3. Rosen 1996 , p. 80
  4. loudersound.com/features/black-sabbath-led-zeppelin-story-of-jam-session
  5. Schroer, Ron (May 1998). "Bill Ward & the hand of doom, part IV: Living naked". Southern Cross [Black Sabbath fanzine]. No. 21. p. 69.
  6. Black Sabbath Online: Sabotage Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. 1 2 3 Osbourne, Ozzy (2011). I Am Ozzy. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN   978-0446569903.
  8. http://thequietus.com/articles/18120-black-sabbath-sabotage-anniversary-review
  9. Black Sabbath’s ‘Sabotage’ Earns Spot on Top 50 Worst Album Covers List http://loudwire.com/black-sabbaths-sabotage-top-50-worst-album-covers/
  10. Sabotage – 2009 Remastered Edition liner notes.
  11. 1 2 Prato, Greg. "Sabotage AMG Album Review". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 20 March 2008.
  12. 1 2 Altman, Billy (25 September 1975). "Sabotage Album Review". Rolling Stone (196). Retrieved 25 February 2008.
  13. "Black Sabbath: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  14. "UK chart history – Black Sabbath Sabotage". www.chartstats.com. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  15. "AllMusic Billboard albums" . Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  16. "BPI certified awards". Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2009.
  17. "RIAA Gold & Platinum database". Archived from the original on 19 October 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  18. Hank, Shteamer (21 June 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone . Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  19. "British album certifications – Black Sabbath – Sabotage". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Sabotage in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  20. "American album certifications – Black Sabbath – Sabotage". Recording Industry Association of America.If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

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References