51 years ago on 18th September 1970 Black Sabbath released their second album ‘Paranoid’. It made a huge mark and influence in the heavy metal world. Paranoid was Black Sabbath’s only album to top the UK Albums Chart up until they released their album 13 in 2013.
Sabbath wrote the songs and riffs while on tour with their first album in Europe. After the tour finished the band hit the studio and made Paranoid in just six days. They recorded the songs as if they were playing a live gig. In doing so, they created one of the most iconic metal albums ever.
The original members of Black Sabbath were well known frontman Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. They guys grew up in the city of Birmingham, England and they all met in the local music scene. Joel McIver, the author of two Black Sabbath books says Black Sabbath wouldn’t be the same without Birmingham. “You cannot separate the environment of Black Sabbath from the music that they made.”. The band were all born in the late 1940s, and back then the future seemed bleak. Their hometown was mostly destroyed by bombs in World War II and the people were struggling. McIver says “If you were a lad back then in this environment, your future was 45 years on a factory assembly line. That’s literally the truth. That’s what so many people faced.”
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What the critics said about Paranoid
With the fans the album was quite popular, with the critics it was a little different. Here’s what some of them said. I reckon they would have changed their point of view not long after what they wrote. Robert Christgau mused: “I suppose I could enjoy them as camp, like a horror movie” in his C- review. Lester Bangs called them “unskilled laborers”.
Nick Tosches of Rolling Stone wrote this piece of misogynistic trash, he didn’t even get Ozzy’s name right! “Although you may not enjoy a lead singer (Kip Treavor), who sounds like Keith Relf whining about the tampons stuck up his nostrils, you owe it to yourself as a person concerned with contemporary society or merely with the artistic underground of the youth movement in general to be aware of the ‘heavy’ sounds of bubble-gum satanism and if you see them live sometimes they undress a hippie girl.” What the hell kind of review as that, Nick?
Back then Black Sabbath had a scary appeal to the public, well mostly to squares. Well throughout their history they have performed for the Queen, won a Grammy award, voted in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and Ozzy Osbourne and his family being in a primetime reality show and Ozzy just being an adorable loving family man. Oh yeah and also he bit the head off a bat but we all know that story.
In 2017 Rolling Stone rated Paranoid the greatest metal album ever. Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford wrote in the liner notes of the 2016 reissue album “It led the world into a new sound and scene.”
Speaking about the album Bill Ward says “It’s a realistic album.We were blacking out the microphones a lot from slamming on the drums, so the sound could use a lot of improvement. But it’s a natural sound: it’s what we did back then.”