Black Sabbath Unearthed / The Expanded Reissues

Black_Sabbath

Like so many facets of modern life, music fandom prior to the birth of the Internet was a different time. While a large swath of the history of recorded music is now but a search engine query away, in those pre-Internet days it wasn’t so easy. [our shot slowly fades into sepia…] Much of my free time was spent hovering over fading music magazines in the library (both in print and microfiche), soaking up reviews/interviews, as well as digesting tomes such as The Rolling Stone Album Guide (think of it as the allmusic.com of its time). One thing I could never understand were the near unanimous critical beatdowns that were regularly bestowed upon the mighty Black Sabbath during the 70s. Like many, my own record collection began as hand-me-downs from family members, and several Sab slabs were among the records I voraciously spun on the regular. How DARE these writers rip a band like this?!

While music history can sometimes (often?) be full of bogus revisionism, the rise of praise for Sabbath is one area of reappraisal that was long overdue. Today, it’s en vogue, almost cliche, to site these Birmingham lads as an influence. This writer is no jaded cynic, and it pleases me to no end that seemingly everyone from twee indie rockers to the sludgiest bongwater scented riff-meisters now cite the influence of the band.

The past two decades have been swell times for the fans; not only have we seen and heard the unthinkable (reunion gigs with all four members), but the band has continued on and released new music that has served as a fitting epitaph to their legacy. In conjunction with the band’s final tour, Rhino records has begun a massive campaign of reissues – full of rarities that were previously unissued in the states – that sends them out in style. Thus far, the first three albums have been released, and they sound fantastic. In addition to music, the packaging features in depth notes, rare photos, and graphic reproductions of extremely rare international vinyl releases.

The self-titled first album (released Friday, February the 13h, 1970 in the UK) is a milestone, and one that many fans and critics cite as the birth of heavy metal. This raw, timeless to the bone record was said to have been recorded in a mere twelve hours, in a single day. The original release is a stone classic, and showcases the band with very few overdubs. The alternate take of “Black Sabbath” shows just how fully formed the band’s ideas were when they entered the studio to cut their debut. There may be a few slight flubs (and it’s also missing the glorious end tag), but ALL the elements are there. In fact, it was a struggle to hear ANY differences in the alternate version of “The Wizard”; it’s remarkably close to the released version. This band was tight. “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” is one of the most memorable tracks from the debut album; its shifting grooves and menacing vocal sounded like nothing else before it. With this reissue, we now have an alternate version with a single tracked Ozzy vocal as presented here. The released version is freakier, but it’s interesting to hear it in a more raw form, here.

While the debut album became an underground success, the group followed its release up quickly with Paranoid in September 1970. With this record, the band became a massive success, hitting the #1 spot in the UK album charts, and #12 in the US (where the group received little to no airplay). The title track also hit #4 in the UK charts. As Paranoid was written quickly in the studio, an alternate take is presented in this set which features an entirely different set of lyrics. While the released version is undoubtedly superior, it’s a fascinating listen. The alternate version of “Planet Caravan” is a revelation; not only does it feature alternate lyrics, but the vocal is straightforward here, without the trip underwater effect as heard on the released version. The Paranoid bonus disc features several instrumental outtakes which clearly demonstrate the remarkable musicianship of the band. “Electric Funeral” is especially interesting, as the guitar part is presented sans wah-wah.

Black Sabbath :: Planet Caravan (alternate version)

While every fan has their favorite, 1971’s massive Master Of Reality is the band’s crowning glory. The riffs are unforgettable (thanks in part to Tony Iommi beginning to tune his guitar a full step lower than concert pitch which cranked up the evil gauge to 11), and the songwriting has progressed, yet was still in touch with the band’s raw roots. Thankfully, the bonus disc for this epic release is also the most satisfying. The companion disc kicks off with the pulverizing “Weevil Woman”; a song that was unfortunately abandoned at the demo stages. The odd title was (more than likely) a nod to the song they were strong armed to record as their debut single (the unrepresentative and downright silly “Evil Woman”, itself heard on LP #1’s bonus disc). I would vote this track as the greatest of all the bonus material, and one that truly should have made it to the finished album. We are also treated to an alternate take of “Sweet Leaf” (perhaps the most crushing riff ever put to wax by anyone) that features borderline-silly lyrics that don’t carry a hint of the released paean to pot. Also of note is an early take of the menacing “Children Of The Grave”, once again with alternate lyrics, and an alternate “Lord Of This World” that features an unused slide guitar part, and a downright deranged vocal from Ozzy. words / d see

Black Sabbath :: Weevil Woman ’71

We are giving away several deluxe editions of Sabbath’s first three studio albums – Black Sabbath, Paranoid and Master of Reality, along with a reissue of the live classic Past Lives. To enter to win, leave a comment with your name, along with which album first turned you on. Winners notified, via email, Friday.

127 thoughts on “Black Sabbath Unearthed / The Expanded Reissues

  1. Paranoid! War Pigs — ominous social commentary that was also … jazzy? What? It’s just proto or ur or something, that whole album. I have listened to it too much, but it still sneaks back into rotation every now and again.

  2. 1st album, bought aged 13 circa 1980 & it scared me to death whilst simultaneously thrilling me to bits.

  3. First album was Black Sabbath – made one hell of an impression on me!!! Swiftly bought the next four albums after that!

  4. The first one that got me hooked is the much underrated ‘Sabotage’ and the awesome ‘Megalomania’. Took it from there and love all the classics.

  5. The album that introduced me to Sabbath was We Sold Our Soul for Rock N Roll. Went back to the original LPs from there.

  6. Paranoid was the first album that hooked me in the same way it appealed to millions of others–killer guitar riffs and Ozzy’s incredible vocals. But over time, I’ve come to appreciate Paranoid and the rest of those first five classic albums (current favorite is Master of Reality) much more for the rhythm section than anything else–the time changes, the cohesion between the band, and the sheer level of mastery as players. It’s stunning how strong of a band they were at such a young age. Hail Sabbath!

  7. Master of Reality – bone-crunching riffs and poetic sensibilities matched almost perfectly. It was an ear-opener when i first encountered it – and blew away my stereotypes of “heavy metal”. It’s rock of the highest order.

  8. The first LP was my gateway drug in Sab. It came later in life but just in the nick of time to save me. The uncredited musician on the album is Satan himself.

  9. Paranoid, of course. It blew me and my stoner friends away when we first heard it….Even though it was already 25 years old at the time.

  10. Paranoid. At the time I discovered it, it felt like the one with the hits on it but it was cool to discover something deeper and weirder than just the songs I heard on classic rock radio.

  11. Older sister’s boyfriend gave me copies of Vol. 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (which I still own).

  12. War Pigs — my older cousins turned me on to this LP back when I was 9, back in 1975 in the Motor City. I was transfix by the heaviness and the dark lyrics. The ultimate riffage!!! Right on.

  13. I was lucky to be turned onto Sabbath via Vol.4, still my favourite by them, Snowblind forever!

  14. Master of Reality for sure. Loved them all, but this is the one I was first introduced to by a neighbor kid.

  15. Black Sabbath s/t. Played for me by a friend when I was 12. Dingy, spooky basement, complete with cobwebs. Terrified and hooked from the jump.

  16. The first Sabbath album, sheer evil from the outset. I was hooked from the very first riff. Praise Iommi.

  17. I was stoned in the backseat of a car driving around town in high school when I first heard the Paranoid album. My mind was blown! 😲✨💥

  18. One of the older skaters in my hometown returned from a winter abroad, picked me up in his VW van to go skating and put Sabotage in the tape player to get us hyped up for the session. He still has no idea how much that day changed my life.

  19. The debut was my first Sabbath record (a hand down from my uncle) and it scared the living crap out of me in the 7th grade. I’ve gone through several copies since then, and its still on my ‘sacred’ list.

  20. 1st Album is incredible, but Paranoid is where they found their way ai the studio.
    I go with Paranoid!

  21. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Used to lay in the grass for hours with it on repeat in my cd Walkman.

  22. Paranoid got to me first — The title “War Pigs” was so fuck you I just had to hear it. Still my favorite album by these guys, though that’s not an easy call to make.

  23. paranoid grabbed me 1st and then i went in to absorb the rest of the sludge. thankfully.

  24. Oh man, that first album accompanied by some mind enhancement was nearly religious to my teenaged self.

  25. Driving around the back woods listening to masters of reality was a ritual of our teendom that look back on fondly.

  26. Self-titled, but only because it was the only one in Trade-a-Tape in Boulder’s Black Sabbath section

  27. my older sister brought Paranoid home in when I was maybe 10 or 11. It was scary and silly and so much heavier than its closest competitor in the house (KISS). I played it several times a day for about a week when a couple of stoners knocked at our front door. When I told them my sister wasn’t at home, they told me they’d come for the record she’d borrowed. I told them I didn’t know what record they were talking about and they said “the same one you’re listening to.”

  28. I was introduced to the band by a friend, he gave me Master of Reality on CD, told me to spend a week with it. Planet Caravan jumped out at me at first, as did the instrumentals. It didn’t take me the full week to fall in love with the album.

  29. For me, no other Sabbath moment can compare with the first time I heard Master of Reality. Listening on headphones, my volume was inadvertently turned up way too loud and the one-two punch of Ozzy’s cough followed by Sweet Leaf’s bone-crushing riff just about melted my brain.

  30. As the author says, 1st record, stone classic. Mind blowing from the get-go, and still to this day. So few relics can stand up against the test of time as this one has. There’s no doubt heavier shit out there nowadays, but even now not by much, and its likely none of it would be here at all without that 1st record.

  31. I believe the Planet Caravan you have above is not an alternate Black Sabbath version as you mention, but rather the Brown Sabbath cover. Great song regardless.

  32. As an 10 year old in the 70’s hearing my older brother playing “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, I was hooked as soon as I heard Ozzy shouting “You bastard!”. That little naughty vocal led me to an amazing world of music.
    Vol 4 is probably my favourite, the most debauched, sleazy, coke rock record of the 70’s … and that is saying something.

  33. Self-titled – The Wizard’s harmonica reminds me of hiking with my friend Matt. This album has bonded us ever since that day when we played it right before our hike.

  34. I found a copy of “Volume 4” in the cutout bin at my local Record World in 1985 for $2.50. After that, everything changed, and those Motley Crue and Ratt records started collecting dust.

  35. First heard the Paranoid album. Heaviest music I had heard in my junior high days. I used to spend the night at my friend’s house who introduced me to Sabbath, Sepultura, Metallica, Stephen King, etc. Watched Sabbath videos on VHS in his basement and was amazed.

  36. First album, 9th grade, suburban Connecticut, on endless loop in the tape deck of my friend’s Datsun while we drove around or sat in the parking lot of the McDonalds. Still have the vinyl copy I bought at Caldors that same year. Essential still.

  37. The First Album! First time I saw it in a shop, even the cover scared the crap out of me! The originators of heavy!!

  38. Sabbath bloody sabbath was my intro to Black Sabbath. i was 12 years old when i first listening to it in the library and a month later i bought it for my savings.

  39. It was Paranoid for me at around age 12, because of the “hits.” But the first one shook me off my foundation a few weeks later.

  40. I heard War Pigs in middle school and knew it for years before I knew it who the artist was. The albums Paranoid, Black Sabbath and Vol 4 are consistently played as baguette rolling music at the bakery I work at. I can’t get over how menacing and amazing the first album is and wish I’d been around when it first came out. Nothing else sounded like it and it must have blown some minds!

  41. I had a stoner friend (that’s what we called them in those days!) in high school who played Sweet Leaf for me. That was my introduction to Sabbath. My first full length, though, was Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which I found on cassette – at a garage sale – not long after.

  42. Hearing my brother, older by nearly 7 yrs, playing ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’ on almost constant rotation, when I was 12/13.

    Cemented by a tape he gave me of ‘We Sold Our Soul…’. First purchase was the NEMS reissue of ‘Vol 4’, complete with centre-pages.

  43. First Album was self titled. Use to turn off the lights in my room and turn it UP……….until
    the parents came up the stairs………………”what the hell you doing listening to that shit in the dark”

  44. Of these three: Paranoid (come on…War Pigs, Paranoid, Iron Man + Fairies Wear Boots). However, their best -> Vol. 4

  45. Wish I could say my first was one of the studio albums but it was actually a cassette of We Sold Our Soul for Rock N Roll. It still sits on my shelf even though I always go back to the full lengths. Master of Reality cannot be beat, even though the first LP opens with my abortive guitar riff of all time.

  46. My first concert. I saw the Deep Purple / ELO version of Sabbath, but still became a lifelong fan.
    Sabotage is the underrated gem and the first one I played back to back to back to back. Hole in the Sky > Don’t Start > Symptom of the Universe makes the Devil simper like Ted Cruz. Sabbath might have made better albums (Am I Going Insane kinda sucks), but this is the first one that got me past the hits, and still the one I reach for when my brain chemistry is optimized.

  47. when i was about 4ys old, my older bro would regularly turn the lights off and scare the crap out of me with the opening of the 1st record …that’s my first Sabbath memory but Paranoid was their LP that really melted my head as a kid… AMAZING.

  48. The first album did it for me. Behind the Wall of Sleep, lying on the floor in the dark. Swiftly followed by my love for Vol 4 and Wheels of Confusion/The Straightner.

  49. Sabotage! I knew War Pigs from classic rock radio (I’m a 90s kid). But hearing Hole in the Sky really turned me on. And then I saw the album art!!!!! It’s cool and makes me laugh at the same time.

  50. when I was 12 the Omer couple that lived next door moved away. They downsized quite a bit, and they gave me my first turntable and a stack of records, which contained original pressings of the first four sabbath records. My life was changed forever. The first album haunted me, but it was master of reality that grabbed ahold and never let go. God bless those folks, wherever they may be now

  51. My first Sabbath album was the We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll compilation. After that was Dehumanizer (that was the current album out at the time), then I went back to the beginning. Favorite album is Paranoid because War Pigs has the best riffs EVER. Not the verse riff, but all the other ones. Very easier to play, but just have so much power.

  52. My first introduction to Sabbath was the “Greatest Hits: 1970-1978” compilation that I bought, on CD, from a used record shop in high school. I was starting to explore early metal, alternative rock, and punk, and I ended up really taking to Black Sabbath.

    Now, I think my favorite album is “Paranoid” (the title track was the first Sabbath song I distinctly remember), but I also love “Sabotage” and “Master of Reality.” They are absolutely one of the greatest and most important rock bands ever.

  53. The first album blew my mind when I was 13 years old. Neighbor that lived upstairs turned me on to it and I used to play it over and over while staring at the cover. Over the years, I’ve found that Sabbath holds so many treasures and I’ve grown to love Paranoid, Master Of Reality, Vol 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy but I always find my way back to the first album. Even through my punk years, Sabbath was a constant for me. PS: Born Again is actually a pretty great album too!

  54. Paranoid, and I spent years with it before exploring the rest. Was that too much prep time or not enough? Dunno, but I like the quintessential Sabbath-ness of the question.

  55. Master Of Reality. It was my step dad’s vinyl. I was probably 12. Changed a lot things in my little world. I’m going to go listen to it now, thanks Aquarium Drunkard!

  56. Black Sabbath Greatest Hits on cassette. Snuck out my bedroom window and listened to it on my walkman on the roof staring at the stars when I was 15.

  57. Given my age, it was Mob Rules that turned me on to the band. Digging and generous older neighbors corrected my bearings…

  58. When I got my first Walkman, my uncle put together a nice double-sided cassette for me with Master of Reality on one side and Master of Puppets on the other.. It was a mere matter of days before the credo of my record collection to come had been etched into my eardrums.’) Given the mention in the article about pre-Internet music discovery, I think a fitting side note which makes me smile now is how years later that same uncle put my Napster hype to the test in my parents basement by having me point and click our way to Heaven and Hell.. downloaded in matter of seconds and went on reshape the future of his music collection

  59. Paranoid.A friend of mine lent me it one day before a snowstorm was to cancel school the next day.I listened to it on a cold winter’s night and was mesmerized by the sound,the lyrics,the cover.I listened to it twice ,and again the following day.Great experience.

  60. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was my first experience. What really got me was when I started watching live performances of Sabbath in the 70s and was just completely blown away. \m/

  61. The layers of my deep Sabbath love are endless. Still jamming Master of Reality on cassette from my bed room with the windows open and every once in a while someone younger is shocked to hear the sick sounds of Sabbath for the first time.

  62. First time I heard Into The Void was via a CT hardcore band 76% Uncertain. Then, like a lot of punks of a certain age, I got turned onto Sweet Leaf and my tastes change. I found the original on Master Of Reality and never looked back, though still love punk rock.

  63. Paranoid. “Fairies Wear Boots” still gives me chills. BTW, while we’re at it, how about a vinyl reissue of the famous ’71 Paris concert? I’d pay for that shit.

  64. I grabbed We Sold Our Souls for Rock n Roll in a used bin one day, gave it a spin, and knew i had to track down the originals.

  65. Bought Paranoid – But my Sabbath Moment came the weekend before. Parents out, older teen bro huddled w buddies over warm beer & bad weed, listening to some Poco homo shit. Banished AWAY from the party room, I flipped on an upstairs TV. Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert, w Sabbath @ Madison Square Garden (#LGR!!). HOLY FREAKING MOLY.

    Nothing was ever the same.

    My bones felt like volcanoes, and my blood was lightning.

    Bro & buddies came to get more beer, and they jeered when they discovered me, basically banging my head into the TV. Fags.

  66. Bought we sold our souls off eBay. When it came in the mail it reaked of smoke and bongwater. Of course I was to young to fully identify the aroma yet.

  67. Master of Reality – An eight-track boombox jammed into and middle school locker blasting the doom. Those were the best of times.

  68. Master of Reality was the one that changed me from “Oh, I recognize that band from the radio” to “This is the heaviest band I’ve ever heard, I need to listen to every song now”

  69. my babysitter was a total metalhead who got me into metallica when i was 8 or 9 and i remember he had a copy of ‘paranoid’ that i was more than a little obsessed with. i loved the cover photo and the music was obviously amazing to me.

  70. I got my first copy of Paranoid on cassette at a gas station. The only thing I knew about the record going in was the riff to “Iron Man.” Best four bucks I ever spent!

  71. “Paranoid”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing (yes I am that old). It was taking rock n roll in a whole different direction. Everything before it was just pop music with the volume turned up.

  72. Ahh, got given a tape of Paranoid by a high-school friend and it was good. Then i taped Master Of Reality and my mind started coughing along.

  73. I remember taking trips to the lake with my family growing up. My mother always had the radio on an Oldies station, playing the likes of The Supremes and The Monkees. When it was dad’s turn to DJ he would always find a classic rock station. During one memorable trip, the song ‘Iron Man’ came on, and he cranked it! I was probably 7 or 8 yrs old…what in the bloody hell is this?! It absolutely shook me to my core. ‘Paranoid’ was my intro album.

  74. I will never forget the night my dad introduced me to Paranoid. I was 14. We sat on my bed and listened to it, front to back. He was a trucker in the 70s and remembered at exactly which point his Paranoid 8-track would click over. My bad ass old man turned me on to this and for that, I am forever greatful.

  75. Paranoid was the album I first explored with my friends, while my brother had Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which by the album cover alone, was quite the draw for my imagination. But honestly, the album that I believe sums up the power of Sabbath’s music for me is Vol. 4. Heaviest of the heavy, a template for succeeding bands like Soundgarden and Sleep, and an album that I regularly play to this day.

  76. I found “We Sold Our Souls For Rock and Roll” in my friend’s dad’s record collection at age 12. At first all I needed was the woman on the inside cover. Then we played the record and lost our minds…

  77. My dad used to listen to Sabbath when I was a toddler in the early ’70s, so I was exposed to songs like Sweet Leaf and War Pigs at the same time I was learning the alphabet and numbers on Sesame Street. I remember being fixated by the album covers – from the warped typography on Master of Reality to the psychedelic photography on their debut. The seeds of my love of Sabbath were definitely planted way back when I was 3 years old, bopping along to Supernaut in my Captain Kirk pajamas, breathing in second hand smoke from dad’s Marlboro 100s.

  78. Master of Reality. Previously, I’d only casually been a Sabbath fan, born in 80, raised on solo Ozzy. Hearing Masters gave all the metal I’ve ever enjoyed a history.

  79. While Paranoid first got my attention, it was Sabbath Bloody Sabbath that convinced me these guys were a cut above.

  80. Bought a used vinyl Paranoid in the 80’s. Played it late at parties at a old house in the woods near the University of Maine at Orono. Good freaky times.

  81. Master of Reality. As soon as those echoed coughs fade in on ‘sweet leaf’ and the riff kicks in – the full power of Sabbath hit me. There is something eerily powerful about listening to Ozzy sing an ode to marijuana so passionately – almost cementing his love affair with drugs for the years to come. Greatest metal band ever.

  82. AD, you are tapped into the great cosmic vibration. The riff from “Sweet Leaf” has been running through my head unbidden for the last 48 hours. . . .

    Like most folks on this thread, Paranoid was my gateway to Sabbath, on CD from Columbia House circa the year of Our Lord 1995. I think I was 15. Our health class teacher let us bring in CDs to play at the beginning of class. I brought Paranoid.

    {Intro}
    “Generals gathered in their masses
    {DUNH NUNH}
    Just like witches at black masses”

    Coach Kinard: “Okay, that’s enough of that.” [turns off Paranoid]

    Thank you, Black Sabbath! Thank you AD, as always.

  83. Found a copy of Paranoid in one of my friend’s dad’s cd collection in middle school. He was kind enough to burn me a copy along with a mix of other 70’s classics.

  84. Favorite album has got to be the original. Found it in the library after hearing Sabbath on the radio and have been a fan ever since.

    Ben Z

  85. Charles Bradley’s recent amazing cover of Changes got me into Sabbath listening frenzy. Their albums are so diverse and wonderful and to think this was happening at the end of the Summer of Love. Thanks AD for the great Planet Caravan alt. take!

  86. “Paranoid” was my entry drug and the record that “turned me on.” I still have vivid memories of being 15 years old in the mid 80s, smoking weed out of a bong made from a gallon milk jug with my friends, and then standing on a chair in my bedroom singing “war pigs” at the top of my voice. Paranoid and the others have been with me ever since, even as my musical taste has grown, expanded and changed vastly. All 3 records are classics with which no home should be without. Thanks for the great website.

  87. Honestly my introduction to Sabbath was Mob Rules which kills. From there I went haphazardly backwards through the Ozzy albums starting with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. I absolutely love how the ending of 13 revisits the beginning of their first album. Top 5 band of all time in any genre.

  88. The first Black Sabbath album still get play time 40 years late a threatening album of great guitar and Ozzie at his best

    regards

    Rhod

  89. I believe it were Sabbath 4 & We Sold Our Soul For Rock & Roll but looks like I’m too late to enter this super awesome giveaway!

    neal

  90. “Iron Man” in 7th grade on cassette tape in gym class. Many years later, I got to work with Tony Iommi on his book. He was just as cool as you’d imagine him to be. Favorite Sabbath tunes are “Supernaut” for Ozz and “Mob Rules” for Dio. Fuggedaboutit.

  91. Paranoid was the first album I heard. This creepy old guy worked the night shift at the Burger King I worked at as a teenager. He’d come in as we were closing and play his CD’s while he worked. He had tones of great albums but Paranoid was the standout. I was hooked after that!!!

  92. My favorite thing about that first album – except for the overall all-encompassing mood and the groove – is the single cowbell hit in The Wizard. Once, not again for the rest of the album. Genius.

    Can’t find it online, but I’m sure I read a glowing review of the first album in a 1970 issue of Downbeat, the ‘serious’ jazz magazine. I was in the college library basement. Used to scour the old issues of that (and many other journals and magazines, when I should have been studying, still getting an education, though) looking for just that sort of thing – Coltrane, Sonny Sharrock, Elvin Jones, Bill Ward…yeah!

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