Vol. 4 (Black Sabbath album)

Last updated

Vol. 4
Black Sabbath Vol. 4.png
Studio album by
Released25 September 1972
RecordedMay 1972
Studio Record Plant, Los Angeles, California
Genre Heavy metal
Length42:18
Label Vertigo
Producer Black Sabbath, Patrick Meehan
Black Sabbath chronology
Master of Reality
(1971)
Vol. 4
(1972)
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
(1973)
Singles from Vol. 4
  1. "Tomorrow's Dream"
    Released: September 1972

Vol. 4 is the fourth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in September 1972. It was the first album by Black Sabbath not produced by Rodger Bain; guitarist Tony Iommi assumed production duties. Patrick Meehan, the band's then-manager, was listed as co-producer, though his actual involvement in the album's production was minimal.

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.

Rodger Bain is a former British record producer, known for producing heavy metal albums by bands such as Black Sabbath, Budgie and Judas Priest in the 70s.

Contents

Recording

In June 1972, Black Sabbath began work on their fourth album at the Record Plant studios in Los Angeles.

Record Plant series of three famous recording studios

The Record Plant is a recording studio first established in New York City and later operating in Los Angeles, California, which hosts top level artists and musicians. It is mainly known for its role in innovating the recording artist’s workspace, as well as being the site of many highly influential recordings over the decades, including notable albums such as The Eagles’ Hotel California, Eminem's The Marshal Mathers LP, Guns N' Roses’ Appetite for Destruction and Kanye West’s The College Dropout. More recent albums recorded at Record Plant include Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP, Justin Bieber's Purpose and Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next.

"It's the first album we've produced ourselves," observed Ozzy Osbourne. "Previously we had Rodger Bain as a producer – and, although he's very good, he didn't really feel what the band was doing. It was a matter of communication. This time, we did it with Patrick, our manager, and I think we're all very happy… It was great to work in an American studio." [1]

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".

The recording was plagued with problems, many due to substance abuse. In the studio, the band regularly had speaker boxes full of cocaine delivered. [2]

Substance abuse a patterned use of a drug in which the user consumes the psychoactive/chemical substance substances in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others

Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a drug in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others, and is a form of substance-related disorder. Widely differing definitions of drug abuse are used in public health, medical and criminal justice contexts. In some cases criminal or anti-social behaviour occurs when the person is under the influence of a drug, and long term personality changes in individuals may occur as well. In addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, use of some drugs may also lead to criminal penalties, although these vary widely depending on the local jurisdiction.

Loudspeaker enclosure

A loudspeaker enclosure or loudspeaker cabinet is an enclosure in which speaker drivers and associated electronic hardware, such as crossover circuits and, in some cases, power amplifiers, are mounted. Enclosures may range in design from simple, homemade DIY rectangular particleboard boxes to very complex, expensive computer-designed hi-fi cabinets that incorporate composite materials, internal baffles, horns, bass reflex ports and acoustic insulation. Loudspeaker enclosures range in size from small "bookshelf" speaker cabinets with 4" woofers and small tweeters designed for listening to music with a hi-fi system in a private home to huge, heavy subwoofer enclosures with multiple 18" or even 21" speakers in huge enclosures which are designed for use in stadium concert sound reinforcement systems for rock music concerts.

Cocaine chemical compound

Cocaine, also known as coke, is a strong stimulant mostly used as a recreational drug. It is commonly snorted, inhaled as smoke, or dissolved and injected into a vein. Mental effects may include loss of contact with reality, an intense feeling of happiness, or agitation. Physical symptoms may include a fast heart rate, sweating, and large pupils. High doses can result in very high blood pressure or body temperature. Effects begin within seconds to minutes of use and last between five and ninety minutes. Cocaine has a small number of accepted medical uses such as numbing and decreasing bleeding during nasal surgery.

Struggling to record "Cornucopia" after "sitting in the middle of the room, just doing drugs", [3] Bill Ward feared that he was to be fired: "I hated the song, there were some patterns that were just horrible. I nailed it in the end, but the reaction I got was the cold shoulder from everybody. It was like 'Well, just go home, you're not being of any use right now.' I felt like I'd blown it, I was about to get fired." [4] According to the book How Black Was Our Sabbath, Ward "was always a drinker, but rarely appeared drunk. Retrospectively, that might have been a danger sign. Now, his self-control was clearly slipping." Iommi claims in his autobiography that Ward almost died after a prank-gone-wrong during recording. The Bel Air mansion the band was renting belonged to John du Pont and the band found several spray cans of gold DuPont paint in a room of the house; finding Ward naked and unconscious after drinking heavily, they proceeded to cover the drummer in gold paint from head to toe. According to Sharon Osbourne's memoirs, a Doberman at the mansion got into part of the band's cocaine supply, laced with the baby laxative mannitol, and became ill from the effects of the drug.

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!.

Bel Air, Los Angeles Neighborhood of Los Angeles in California, United States of America

Bel Air is a neighborhood on the Westside of Los Angeles, California, in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. Founded in 1923, it is the home of The Hannah Carter Japanese Garden and the American Jewish University.

John du Pont American heir to the Du Pont family fortune, ornothologist, conchologist, murderer

John Eleuthère du Pont was an heir to the Du Pont family fortune, a convicted murderer, and an American philanthropist. He had been a published ornithologist, philatelist, conchologist, sports enthusiast, and self-styled wrestling coach. He died in prison while serving a sentence of 30 years for the murder of Dave Schultz.

The Vol. 4 sessions could be viewed as the point when the seeds were planted for the demise of Sabbath's classic line-up. Bassist Geezer Butler told Guitar World in 2001: "The cocaine had set in. We went out to L.A. and got into a totally different lifestyle. Half the budget went on the coke and the other half went to seeing how long we could stay in the studio ... We rented a house in Bel Air and the debauchery up there was just unbelievable." In the same interview, Ward said: "Vol. 4 is a great album, but listening to it now, I can see it as a turning point for me, where the alcohol and drugs stopped being fun." To Guitar World in 1992, Iommi admitted, "LA was a real distraction for us, and that album ended up sounding a bit strange. The people who were involved with the record really didn't have a clue. They were all learning with us, and we didn’t know what we were doing either. The experimental stage we began with Master of Reality continued with Vol. 4, and we were trying to widen our sound and break out of the bag everyone had put us into." In the liner notes to 1998's Reunion , Iommi reflected, "By the time we got to Bel Air we were totally gone. It really was a case of wine, women and song, and we were doing more drugs than ever before." In his memoir Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath, the guitarist says, "Like Tony Montana in the movie Scarface : we'd put a big pile (of cocaine) on the table, carve it all up and then we'd all have a bit, well, quite a lot."

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>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.

<i>Master of Reality</i> 1971 studio album by Black Sabbath

Master of Reality is the third studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on 21 July 1971. It is widely regarded as the foundation of doom metal, stoner rock, and sludge metal. It was certified double platinum after having sold over 2 million copies. Master of Reality was Black Sabbath's first and only top 10 album in the US until 13, forty-two years later.

In his autobiography I Am Ozzy, Osbourne speaks at length about the sessions: "In spite of all the arsing around, musically those few weeks in Bel Air were the strongest we'd ever been." But he admits, "Eventually we started to wonder where the fuck all the coke was coming from ... that coke was the whitest, purest, strongest stuff you could ever imagine. One sniff, and you were king of the universe." Osbourne also recounts the band's ongoing anxiety over the possibility of being busted, which worsened after they went to the cinema to see The French Connection (1971), about undercover New York City cops busting an international heroin-smuggling ring. "By the time the credits rolled," Osbourne recalled, "I was hyperventilating." In 2013, Butler admitted to Mojo magazine that heroin, too, had entered the picture: "We sniffed it, we never shot up ... I didn't realize how nuts things had gotten until I went home and the girl I was with didn't recognize me."

Composition

Vol. 4 saw Black Sabbath beginning to experiment with the heavy sound they had become known for. In June 2013 Mojo declared, "If booze and dope had helped fuel Sabbath's earlier albums, Vol. 4 is their cocaine ... Despite their spiraling addictions, musically Vol. 4 is another ambitious outing. The band's heavy side remains intact on the likes of 'Tomorrow's Dream', 'Cornucopia' and the seismic 'Supernaut' (a firm favorite of Frank Zappa, featuring Bill Ward's soul-inspired breakdown), but the guitar intro on 'St. Vitus Dance' possesses a jaunty, Led Zeppelin-flavoured quality, while 'Laguna Sunrise' is an evocative neo-classical Iommi instrumental." After being up all night and watching the sunrise at Laguna Beach, Iommi composed the song. [2] In the studio, an orchestra accompanied Iommi's guitar, although they refused to perform until their parts were properly written out. [2] The same orchestra performed on "Snowblind". [2]

"Snowblind" is the band's most obvious reference to cocaine, their drug of choice during this period. Snowblind was also the album's working title, but Vertigo Records executives were reluctant to release an album with such an obvious drug reference. [2] The liner notes thank "the great COKE-cola" [2] and, in his autobiography, Osbourne notes, "Snowblind was one of Black Sabbath's best-ever albums – although the record company wouldn't let us keep the title, 'cos in those days cocaine was a big deal, and they didn't want the hassle of a controversy. We didn't argue."

Although most of the album is in the band's trademark heavy style, some songs demonstrate a more sensitive approach. "Changes", for example, written by Iommi with lyrics by Butler, is a piano ballad with mellotron. Iommi taught himself to play the piano after finding one in the ballroom of the Bel-Air mansion they were renting. It was on this piano that "Changes" was composed. [2] "Tony just sat down at the piano and came up with this beautiful riff," Osbourne writes in his memoir. "I hummed a melody over the top, and Geezer wrote these heartbreaking lyrics about the break-up Bill was going through with his wife. I thought that was brilliant from the moment we recorded it."

"FX" came about unexpectedly in the studio. After smoking hashish, the crucifix hanging from Iommi's neck accidentally struck the strings of his guitar and the band took an interest in the odd sound produced. [2] An echo effect was added and the band proceeded to hit the guitar with various objects to generate odd sound effects. Iommi calls the song "a total joke". [2]

Of "Wheels of Confusion", Henry Rollins said: "It's about alienation and being lost in the wheels of confusion, which is the way I find myself a lot of the time. Sabbath could be my favourite band. It's the ultimate lonely man's rock. There's something about their music that's so painful and yet so powerful." [5]

The album, Tony Iommi told Circus's sister magazine Circus Raves, "was such a complete change – we felt we had jumped an album, really ... We had tried to go too far." [6]

Artwork

Sleeve Photo Black Sabbath Vol 4 rear cover.jpg.tiff
Sleeve Photo

The album cover features a monochrome photograph of Ozzy Osbourne with hands raised throwing the peace sign, [7] taken during a Black Sabbath concert. The album's original release (on Vertigo in the UK, on Warner Bros. in the United States and on Nippon Phonogram in Japan) features a gatefold sleeve with a page glued into the middle. Each band member is given his own photo page, with the band on-stage at the Birmingham Town Hall [8] (and photographed from behind) at the very centre.

The album's original cover art has proved iconic, and has been imitated and parodied on numerous occasions, such as on the 1992 Peaceville Volume 4 compilation album, the 1992 Volume Two EP by the band Sleep, and the 1994 Planet Caravan EP by Pantera.

The U.S. 8 track and cassette releases of the album feature alternate artwork: a yellow background with Ozzy silhouetted in black.

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [9]
Rolling Stone favourable [10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [11]

Vol. 4 was released in September 1972, and while most critics of the era were dismissive of the album, it achieved gold status in less than a month, and was the band's fourth consecutive release to sell one million copies in the United States. [12] It reached number 13 on Billboard's pop album chart [13] and number 8 on the UK Albums Chart. [14] The song "Tomorrow's Dream" was released as a single but failed to chart. [15] Following an extensive tour of the United States, the band toured Australia for the first time in 1973, and later Europe.

Rock critic Lester Bangs, who had derided the band's earlier albums, applauded Vol. 4, writing in Creem, "We have seen the Stooges take on the night ferociously and go tumbling into the maw, and Alice Cooper is currently exploiting it for all it's worth, turning it into a circus. But there's only one band that's dealt with it honestly on terms meaningful to vast portions of the audience, not only grappling with it in a mythic structure that's both personal and powerful but actually managing to prosper as well. And that band is Black Sabbath." Bangs also compared the band's lyrics to those of Bob Dylan and William S. Burroughs. In June 2000, Q [16] placed Vol. 4 at number 60 in its list of The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever [17] and described the album as "the sound of drug-taking, beer-guzzling hooligans from Britain's oft-pilloried cultural armpit let loose in LA." In his 2013 biography on the band Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe, Mick Wall insists "Under The Sun" would become the "sonic signpost" for bands that would follow Sabbath in years to come, such as Iron Maiden and Metallica. Frank Zappa has identified "Supernaut" as one of his all-time favorites. [18] (In a 1994 interview with Guitar for the Practicing Musician, Butler revealed, "I loved Zappa's lyric approach. That influenced me lyrically, definitely".) "Supernaut" was also one of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's favorite songs. [19]

Kerrang! magazine listed the album at No. 48 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time". [20] Rolling Stone ranked it 14th on their 2017 list of "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". [21] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die . [22]

Thomas Gabriel Fischer of Triptykon and previously frontman of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost cited Vol.4 as highly influential on his musical formation and stated he "learned to play guitar from that album". [23]

Track listing

All music written by Black Sabbath (Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward); all lyrics by Geezer Butler. Some North American pressings have parts of the songs titled as The Straightener and Every Day Comes and Goes; the former is Wheels of Confusion's coda, while the latter is a two-minute segment that serves as Under the Sun's bridge. [24] These parts are not titled on original releases or any European release.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Wheels of Confusion" (including The Straightener)8:02
2."Tomorrow's Dream"3:12
3."Changes"4:45
4."FX" (Instrumental)1:44
5."Supernaut"4:50
Side two
No.TitleLength
6."Snowblind"5:33
7."Cornucopia"3:55 [25]
8."Laguna Sunrise" (instrumental)2:56
9."St. Vitus Dance"2:30
10."Under the Sun" (including Every Day Comes and Goes)5:53

Cover versions

"Wheels of Confusion"
"Tomorrow's Dream"
"Changes"
"Supernaut"
"Snowblind"
"Cornucopia"
"Under the Sun"

Personnel

Black Sabbath

Additional

Certifications

RIAA certification [33] (United States)

DateDesignationTotal sales
6 November 1972Gold500,000
13 October 1986Platinum1,000,000

BPI certification [34] (United Kingdom)

DateDesignationTotal sales
22 July 2013Silver60,000

CRIA certification [35] (Canada)

DateDesignationTotal sales
1 September 1977Gold50,000
1 September 1977Platinum100,000

See also

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References

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Iommi, Tony (2011). Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Da Capo Press. ISBN   978-0306819551.
  3. Rosen 1996 , p. 73
  4. Rosen 1996 , pp. 73–74
  5. unsourced clipping, probably from Melody Maker , reproduced in Sabbath fanzine Southern Cross #12, January 1994, p6
  6. Circus Raves No. 119, October 1975
  7. "The Book of Seth: Black Sabbath - Vol 4". Julian Cope presents Head Heritage. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  8. "Iron Man - My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath" by Tonny Iommi, pg. 43
  9. Huey, Steve. "Review Black Sabbath, Vol. 4". Allmusic . Retrieved 25 August 2009.
  10. Clark, Tom (7 December 1972). "Review Black Sabbath Vol. 4". Rolling Stone . Retrieved 24 February 2012.
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  16. Q Magazine, issue No. 165, June 2000, p. 69
  17. "Rock List Music". Rock List Music. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
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  20. Hotten, Jon (21 January 1989). "Black Sabbath 'Vol. 4'". Kerrang! . 222. London, UK: Spotlight Publications Ltd.
  21. Grow, Kory (21 June 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone . Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  22. Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN   0-7893-1371-5.
  23. "Interview: Tom Gabriel Fischer". hit-channel.com. 14 April 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  24. Joel McIver Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath 2007 "St Vitus Dance. .. In fact, it serves as a perfect intro to 'Under The Sun', which drags into life with a weighty, down-tuned intro that is the heaviest metal that Sabbath have attempted to date. Not one but two tempo accelerations follow in the next two minutes, .... instrumental outro – often given its own independent title, this time 'Every Day Comes And Goes' – finishes the album off."
  25. Original North American Warner Bros. Records pressings of Vol. 4 (catalog no. BS 2602) incorrectly list "Cornucopia"'s running time as 4:52.
  26. "Black Sabbath songs covered by medieval music band Rondellus" . Retrieved 12 March 2010.
  27. "sHeavy Cover Songs" . Retrieved 17 February 2011.
  28. Mariano Prunes. "Dos Bandas y un Destino: El Concierto - Arizona Baby, Los Coronas | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  29. "Overview Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live!!". Allmusic . Retrieved 2 November 2009.
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  31. "Overview: Stash". Allmusic . Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  32. "Entombed Lyrics". DarkLyrics.com. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  33. "RIAA Gold & Platinum database" . Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  34. "BPI certified awards" . Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  35. "CRIA certified awards". Archived from the original on 18 February 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2009.

Bibliography