Tony Iommi recalls when
Paranoid was written at the last minute when Black Sabbath were told that their second album was too short and they needed an extra song or two. The song took around two hours to create. Believing the song had some hit potential, Black Sabbath’s label released it in August 1970 and renamed the album to fit the track. This move upset Tony Iommi.
Tony Iommi spoke to Kerrang interview and said that producer Roger Bain added a ring modulation to Ozzy Osbourne’s voice to their song “Iron Man”. Tony said “Rodger also used that on the guitar solo on the track ‘Paranoid’ itself. At first, I said, ‘What the hell’s that?! It sounds horrible!’ But they went ahead and picked it as the solo that ended up on the record all the same.” He added: “I’ve got used to it now.”
Iommi talks about the album title change from War Pigs to Paranoid “We didn’t have much pull in those days, so we didn’t really have a say in the matter… but we were pretty angry about it. I really like it. I always have. Nowadays people know what we’ve done and what we’ve achieved so I can accept what Paranoid represents, whereas back then I would’ve been more critical of it because it stood for something else.”
On reflecting on the album Iommi says “As everyone knows we actually recorded the first album in a day, so when we came to the second album we said, ‘Blimey! We’ve got a whole six days! What are we going to do with that?’ We genuinely didn’t know. Our way of recording was quite simple; we’d turn up, set up, and play. That was it.”
He continued “War Pigs was a song that went back to the earlier days in the band. I came up with those riffs when we were doing a residency in Switzerland [at Zürich’s Hirschen Club in April ’69] to about three people. Playing those kind of shows was pretty terrible, but it gave us time to get songs together properly without anyone really noticing.”
When Paranoid was released as a single in August 1970 it was an immediate hit and it landed the band an appearance on the popular weekly TV show Top of The Pops.
Tony recalls “We didn’t want to be on Top Of the Pops at all! It wasn’t our audience. We we were an album band, a more underground band. Paranoid obviously did a hell of a lot for us but [when it became a hit] we were getting screaming kids at gigs, and they just weren’t our sort of fans. We didn’t want to attract Beatles fans or anything like that. The music was heavy and powerful and we wanted to keep it that way, rather than record music that would attract pop fans, so the best thing was not to release singles.”
“When you hear the impact that the music has had on people, it’s really incredible “It means that we’ve been there for a purpose, and that people can relate to what we’ve done and learn from it. Our music is, by the standards of today, basic. But what we had comes from the heart. It’s the combination of the four of us that makes that sound. I’ve had really good players down the years, really good people I’ve played with, but nobody can sound like the four of us and I’m really proud of that.”
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