Technical Ecstasy

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Technical Ecstasy
Studio album by
Released25 September 1976 (1976-09-25)
RecordedJune 1976
Studio Criteria Studios, Miami, Florida [1]
Genre Heavy metal
Label Vertigo
Producer Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath chronology
Technical Ecstasy
Never Say Die!

Technical Ecstasy is the seventh studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, produced by guitarist Tony Iommi and released in September 1976. The album was certified Gold on 19 June 1997 [2] and peaked at number 51 on the Billboard 200 Album chart. [3]

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 States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from 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.

Tony Iommi British guitarist

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



After frustrating legal battles that accompanied the recording of 1975's Sabotage , Sabbath chose Miami's Criteria Studios for the making of Technical Ecstasy, which continued the band's separation from the doom and darkness that had been a trademark of their earlier albums. "Some people may have heard the band in 1970," noted Iommi, "and be thinking, 'Oh no, not them again!' But if they heard us now, they probably might like us." [4]

<i>Sabotage</i> (Black Sabbath album) 1975 studio album by Black Sabbath

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.

Criteria Studios

Criteria Studios is a recording studio in Miami, Florida, founded in 1958 by musician Mack Emerman (1923–2013), and which went on to become the source of many hit records, especially in the 1970s. The studio was originally designed by Hollywood, Florida, architect Charles C. Reed, Jr. Subsequent additions, acoustic design and renovations completed by others.

In the July 2001 issue of Guitar World , Dan Epstein wrote, "The sessions proved extremely relaxing for everyone except Iommi, who was left to oversee the production while the others sunned themselves on the beach." Iommi explained to the same magazine in 1992, "We recorded the album in Miami, and nobody would take responsibility for the production. No one wanted to bring in an outside person for help, and no one wanted the whole band to produce it. So they left it all to me!"

<i>Guitar World</i> magazine

Guitar World is an American monthly music magazine for guitarists, published since July 1980. It contains original interviews, album and gear reviews, and guitar and bass tablature of approximately five songs each month. The magazine is published 13 times per year. Formerly owned by Harris Publications, Future US bought the magazine in 2003. In 2012, NewBay Media bought the Music division of Future US. The latter company also published a spin-off title, Guitar Legends, each issue of which typically combined past articles from Guitar World under a specific theme. The first Guitar Legends was on Eddie Van Halen. In 2018, Future acquired NewBay Media, returning Guitar World to Future US.

In the liner notes to the band's 1998 live album Reunion, Phil Alexander writes that, while the band struggled to finish the album, "rock had spawned a new set of iconoclasts as the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned… Suddenly Sabbath found themselves both unsure of their musical direction and labeled as has-beens." "It's not like now: If you're a heavy metal band, you put out a heavy metal album," Butler explained to Uncut in 2014. "Back then, you had to at least try to be modern and keep up. Punk was massive then and we felt that our time had come and gone."

Liner notes writing including with a musical release

Liner notes are the writings found on the sleeves of LP record albums and in booklets which come inserted into the compact disc jewel case or the equivalent packaging for vinyl records and cassettes.

Sex Pistols British punk rock band

The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.

The Clash English punk band

The Clash were an English rock band formed in London in 1976 as a key player in the original wave of British punk rock. They have also contributed to the post-punk and new wave movements that emerged in the wake of punk and employed elements of a variety of genres including reggae, dub, funk, ska, and rockabilly. For most of their recording career, the Clash consisted of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Joe Strummer, lead guitarist and lead vocalist Mick Jones, bassist Paul Simonon, and drummer Nicky "Topper" Headon. Headon left the group in 1982 and internal friction led to Jones's departure the following year. The group continued with new members, but finally disbanded in early 1986.

To make matters worse for the band, manager Don Arden began spending more of his time focusing on another of his acts, ELO, whose 1975 album Face The Music was their first to make the US top ten. Iommi's determination to move Sabbath in a new direction was misguided according to some, with Mick Wall noting in the 2013 book Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe that while future soft rock million-sellers Hotel California and Rumours were just around the corner, "to try and force that sound on Black Sabbath was like trying to put lamb's wool on a suit of armour. It just didn't work, pleasing nobody."

Don Arden English producer

Don Arden was an English music manager, agent, and businessman. He managed the careers of rock acts such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Air Supply, Small Faces, The Move, Black Sabbath and Electric Light Orchestra.

<i>Face the Music</i> (Electric Light Orchestra album) 1975 studio album by Electric Light Orchestra

Face the Music is the fifth studio album by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). It was released in September 1975 by United Artists Records and on 14 November 1975 in the United Kingdom by Jet Records. The album moves away from the large-scale classical orchestrated sound from the previous album, Eldorado, in favor of more "radio-friendly" rock/pop songs, though the string sections are still very prominent. The new sound proved successful for the group as Face the Music was the first ELO album to go platinum.

Soft rock is a derivative form of pop rock that originated in the late 1960s in the U.S. region of Southern California and the United Kingdom. The style smoothed over the edges of singer-songwriter and pop rock, relying on simple, melodic songs with big, lush productions. Soft rock was prevalent on the radio throughout the 1970s and eventually metamorphosed into the synthesized music of adult contemporary in the 1980s.

In his autobiography I Am Ozzy, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne admitted he had begun to consider leaving the band during this time: "I'd even had a T-shirt made with 'Blizzard of Ozz' written on the front. Meanwhile, in the studio, Tony (Iommi) was always saying, 'We've gotta sound like Foreigner', or 'We've gotta sound like Queen.' But I thought it was strange that the bands we'd once influenced were now influencing us." Osbourne also wrote that the cost of recording in Florida "was astronomical" and that he'd "lost the plot with the booze and the drugs" during the recording of Technical Ecstasy, eventually checking himself into the Stafford County Asylum on his return to England.

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 helped record 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".

Foreigner is an English–American rock band, originally formed in New York City in 1976 by veteran English musician and ex-Spooky Tooth member Mick Jones, and fellow Briton and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald along with American vocalist Lou Gramm.

Queen (band) British rock band

Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970. Their classic line-up was Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. Their earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works by incorporating further styles, such as arena rock and pop rock.

"That was the beginning of the end, that one", bassist Geezer Butler confessed to Guitar World in 2001. "We were managing ourselves because we couldn't trust anybody. Everybody was trying to rip us off, including the lawyers we'd hired to get us out of our legal mess. It was really just getting to us around then, and we didn't know what we were doing. And obviously, the music was suffering; you could just feel the whole thing falling apart." Osbourne briefly left following the Technical Ecstasy Tour – and, although he would eventually return for the follow-up Never Say Die! , the band temporarily replaced him with former Savoy Brown vocalist Dave Walker. The band wrote a handful of songs with Walker, and performed an early version of what would become "Junior's Eyes" on the BBC programme Look Hear with him.

While the band were recording the album, The Eagles were recording Hotel California in an adjacent studio at Criteria Studios in Miami. "Before we could start recording we had to scrape all the cocaine out of the mixing board," Geezer divulged to Uncut in 2014. "I think they'd left about a pound of cocaine in the board." The Eagles were forced to stop recording on numerous occasions because Sabbath were too loud and the sound was coming through the wall. [5]


The cover art was designed by Hipgnosis. Osbourne once described it as "two robots screwing on an escalator". [6] Hipgnosis' Storm Thorgerson, who had been assisted by graphic designer George Hardie, discussed the cover with Zoom magazine in 1979: [7] "We're very fond of that cover. From the title of the piece, Technical Ecstasy, I thought of something ecstatic rather than something technical, and I immediately thought of ecstasy in sexual terms: some sort of mechanical copulation, which would be tricky to do. I then thought of ecstasy as falling in love, perhaps during a brief encounter on an escalator – and, since it was 'technical', I thought of two robots ... It's really quite simple – he's just done curves for the female and hard, angular, macho lines for the male. It's really quite sexist, actually – stereotyped. Anyway, it's love at first sight, but I felt robots wouldn't do it like humans would do it, so instead they're squirting lubricating fluid at one another." The UK release had a two-sided insert of lyrics and credits.

Composition and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [9]
The Daily VaultB+ [10]

Technical Ecstasy's lyrics dealt with a variety of topics. Tony Iommi's autobiography Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath reveals that "Dirty Women" was about "all these hookers" Butler had seen around Florida. "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)" is about "a transvestite who becomes President of the United States," Butler told biographer Mick Wall in 2013, "because America was such a misogynistic society at the time." The music itself was seldom dark, as the band continued experimenting with keyboards and synthesizers, especially on the orchestrated ballad "She's Gone".

The album received mixed reviews, with Phil Alexander writing in 1998, "While today hardcore Sabs fans defend some of the bold steps taken on Technical Ecstasy, it was a confused offering which still hit Number 13 in the UK but limped into the US charts at 52." In 2001, Guitar World was less kind, calling it perhaps the "least-loved effort of the original lineup" with the band "trying to stretch its sound in several different directions, none of them exceptionally successful." It deemed "Rock 'N' Roll Doctor" "a bad Kiss imitation" while eschewing "It's Alright" as "a sub-par Paul McCartney-style pop ballad." In 2013 Mojo magazine opined, "Technical Ecstasy is the sound of Sabbath trying to make a grown-up, radio-friendly rock record and, in some parts, it works ... Mostly, however, it doesn't with tracks like 'Back Street Kids', 'Rock 'N' Roll Doctor' and 'Dirty Women' resorting to clichéd and ill-fitting rock moves." Greg Prato of AllMusic agrees "it was not on par with Sabbath's exceptional first five releases," but praises "Dirty Women", the "funky" "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)" and the "raging opener" "Back Street Kids".

The ballad "It's Alright" was written and sung by drummer Bill Ward. Initially reluctant to sing the song for fear of offending Osbourne, he was encouraged by the band to do it. [5] In his autobiography, Osbourne praises the performance, enthusing, "He's got a great voice, Bill, and I was more than happy for him to do the honours." It was released as a single because, said Iommi, "We want to break out as far as we can… so we've decided to hit the singles market." [4] It has since been covered live by Guns N' Roses, and was included on their Live Era '87–'93 album. It was also featured in the 2010 film It's Kind of a Funny Story .

In 1992, Iommi admitted to Guitar World: "Black Sabbath fans generally don't like much of Technical Ecstasy. It was really a no-win situation for us. If we had stayed the same, people would have said we were still doing the same old stuff. So we tried to get a little more technical, and it just didn’t work out very well."

During the subsequent 1977 European tour in support of Technical Ecstasy, the band was supported by AC/DC. [5] The relationship between bassist Geezer Butler and AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young was quite tense. [5] Guitarist Tony Iommi recalls the atmosphere between the two being "heavy" and that the pair did not get along at all. [5] Ward's drum tech Graham Wright and Osbourne's personal assistant David Tangye stated in their 2004 book How Black Was Our Sabbath that the problems between the two originated after a show the two bands performed earlier in Switzerland. [11] An altercation occurred in an hotel bar in which Butler removed a switch-blade comb from his pocket and opened it. Young thought it was a switchblade knife and believed Butler was pointing it at him. [11] In the Bon Scott biography Highway To Hell: The Life and Times of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott, Clinton Walker writes of the tour: "Sabbath, by 1976, were well past their prime, and AC/DC were all but blowing them right off the stage. Substance abuse in the band was rampant." Graham and Tangye also disclose that during the tour drummer Ward had begun driving from gig to gig in a rented Winnebago due to a fear of flying.

Track listing

All tracks written by Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osbourne, except "It's Alright", written by Bill Ward.

Side one
1."Back Street Kids"3:47
2."You Won't Change Me"6:42
3."It's Alright"4:04
Side two
5."All Moving Parts (Stand Still)"5:07
6."Rock 'n' Roll Doctor"3:30
7."She's Gone"4:58
8."Dirty Women"7:13


Black Sabbath


Release history

United States25 September 1976 Warner Bros. Records
United Kingdom8 October 1976 Vertigo Records
Canada25 September 1976Warner Bros. Records
United Kingdom1996 Castle Communications
United Kingdom2004 Sanctuary Records


RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA) [12] Gold500,000^

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

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  1. "Billboard's Top Album Picks". Billboard: 66. 16 October 1976. Those precursors of science-fiction teen-oriented hard rock produced themselves at Miami's Criteria Studios...
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  3. "Technical Ecstasy: Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums" at AllMusic . Retrieved 30 January 2009.
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