September 22, 2008
 

 

Happy first day of Autumn. Yep, that's right!! It is becoming Fall out there, folks. No doubt, you have noticed the sun setting quite a bit earlier and that also means that the labels will soon be slowing their info stream down for the holidays. And we're kinda noticing a bit of the slowdown, although it isn't the damming that usually happens around December 1 through January. We'll still be running news for a while though.

We're now bringing you the promised Black Sabbath Poll results. I have to say several things before continuing on here. The first was that this was a low input of votes for a major band. I really thought that we would get more but voting just didn't rev up at all. But it wasn't without any results at all, although I would have to say that, with a larger vote tally, we might see different results. We only received 84 votes and I must say - again - that I'm surprised by the results. I really thought that Paranoid would have a spectacular placement and it just simply did not get it. Wow!! BUT, to be fair...I love Black Sabbath but obviously not as much as some of the fans that responded. Here are the results:

  • Heaven & Hell (26) - This album not only surprised me in its strength in this poll because I thought that Paranoid would be the odds-on favourite but I was almost certain that it wouldn't get the attention it deserved. Wrong on both counts. The Dio-fronted album surpassed the Ozzy-fronted catalogue easily. Most respondents stated that the album was Black Sabbath's high point. Who am I to argue? A decisive choice of the fans of Black Sabbath.
  • Paranoid (17) - Being squashed out of number one by Heaven & Hell, it still came close to the one spot by being number two. Classic songs.
  • Sabotage (10-) - Some said that this album was "the pinnacle" of a great career. Great album and good choice but I'm still wondering why some are left to flounder like the excellent debut self-titled album.
  • Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (8) - Their fifth album had voters saying this +is a masterpiece and has some great riffs within its grooves. It being from the Ozzy age, I have to agree. That doesn't mean that I didn't like the Dio years...just liked Ozzy-era better.
  • Volume 4 (7) - One heck of a fantastic album. It speaks for itself and easily deserves this spot.
  • Master of Reality (6) - This unsung classic is easily a staple in their catalog. With "Sweet Leaf" and "Children of the Grave," this album and the album's remaining six songs achieve.
  • Black Sabbath (5) - Surprisingly, this masterful debut ends up way down here but at least it is included. Great debut album for this excellent band.
  • Mob Rules (2) - Dio had this band going and Mob Rules proves it. Dio was a great successor who won his place in the Black Sabbath canon.
  • Dehumanizer (1) - This album brought Dio back into the fold after a lengthy departure to create something that was special to many fans. This album is under-rated.
  • Headless Cross (1) - Different era of Black Sabbath had their fans too.
  • Never Say Die (1) - This vote was followed by a critical evaluation of Black Sabbath that was well thought out. I'm including it at the end of the Sabbath discussion for your reading.
  • An interesting vote was actually a write-in for a non-existing title. It was sent in as "...the last one they ever make. That will be a great event."

There was not any love for many other Black Sabbath albums like Technical Ecstasy, Seventh Star, Eternal Idol, and several others. Again, I do believe that with more votes, we would have seen a shift or change in the order that we now see. Thanks to all that participated. We'll throw the next one out there in a few weeks. Follows is the promised voter Ozzy-led Black Sabbath catalogue evaluation, written by TAP reader, Joe Bongiorno:

"...it's a really difficult choice because each of the eight albums (while I enjoy the post-Ozzy material quite a bit, it's not Black Sabbath to me) is like eight different beloved children. You can tell they were birthed by the same parents, but each is completely unique and special, and you adore them all for different reasons.

The first album is a study in strangeness and mood. It gets accolades for being dark and heavy, which it is, but that's just scratching the surface. There are lots of alternating emotive states here, underscored by the fantasy-fueled Behind the Wall of Sleep and Sleeping Village, the tritone-induced title track and the explosive NIB. But it's the brilliant 10 minute Warning which I think is the stand-out track (though the jazzy velocitized Wicked World is right up there) and its most hallucinogenic. Great cover too that highlights the eerie atmosphere of the piece. Wonderful, wonderful album that is in many ways the opposite of the Satanic overtones it was perceived as employing (especially as the Wizard is about Gandalf banishing evil and the titular track is a warning against Satanism.)

Paranoid continues to elicit the most radio support in the US, but that's not saying much, since American radio has nothing to do with quality music, and hasn't for decades. That said, Paranoid moves in a different direction than the first, less gothic, and more science-fiction, both lyrically and in the music, which features less weird blues and jazz extrapolations and more of the high-powered riffs that have come to define the Metal genre. The plodding Hand of Doom warns of heroine addiction (whilst starting an entire sub-genre), while the uptempo instrumental Rat Salad is a fun number that leads into the minor-classic Fairies Wear Boots. In truth, though, it's not the ever-listenable, fuzzy-guitar Paranoid or its dinosaur counterpart Iron Man that sets the album's tone, but the hauntingly ethereal Planet Caravan and the prescient environmentalist epic Electric Funeral.

Master of Reality moves forward from the direction of Paranoid, albeit sludgier (and, alternately, faster), continuing their science-fiction and ecological themes, while throwing a curve ball at the critics and listeners by including the band's actual take on God and religion in After Forever, a song that unambiguously promotes Christian belief! And the band had the audacity to print the lyrics right on the back of the album just in case there was any doubt. Idiotically, the American media didn't catch on (nor apparently a legion of moronic death-and-black metallers) as Sabbath continued to be plagued by inane rumors. The album boasts some lovely medieval instrumental interludes in between the gargantuan Children of the Grave, the cannibus-influenced Sweet Leaf and the momentous Into the Void. The real surprise of the album, however, is the Moody Blues-ish Solitude, a fluted dirge that is so deeply melancholy and haunting it helped earn the band the moniker of the 'three D's: Death, Doom and Destruction,' and perhaps it wasn't unwarranted.

Volume 4 finds the band in even deeper, murkier waters with what may be the darkest of their canon. It opens with the plaintive Wheels of Confusion (a song about the disillusionment one finds as he grows into adulthood) and ends with the epic and bitterly cynical Under the Sun, which attacks man's institutions that are supposed to work for good, from the peace movement to religion, as failures to curtail the inexorable race to self-destruction. In between, there's the ironic and chugging Snowblind, the almost country-like St. Vitus Dance, the wildly riffing Supernaut, and the bittersweet Changes, which finds them incorporating their first use of mellotron. The only hopeful song in the bunch is the rollicking Tomorrow's Dream (about coming to life again after a break-up).

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is listed by many as their greatest offering, and that may well be, balancing the blistering war rhythms of heavier tracks like title song with more progressive, even beautiful offerings. And in middle stand real gems, the esoteric and hypnotic Sabbra Cadabra (utilizing Yes' Rick Wakeman on keyboards), the brutally honest rocker Killing Yourself to Live, the prophetic Looking for Today (about the meteoric rise and fall of pop stars) and the gorgeous Spiral Architect, a song which points in the direction the final two albums will go. The standout track is the lush and trancelike A National Acrobat (about the personification of the spirit in man). The album cover underscores its progression of light to dark with the phenomenal Drew Struzan (of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame) painting, which poses the seemingly Satanic image of a man being tormented to death by evil creatures with a lambently spiritual back cover of a man being comforted by family and God. As with the joke behind the title of the classical instrumental Fluff, Black Sabbath constantly proves they're anything but.

Sabotage is easily Sabbath's heaviest album, a response to the legal pressures inflicted upon them by their former management which they were in lawsuits with. Oddly enough, it's also their most progressive offering, with several longer songs incorporating mellotron (used previously on Volume 4), including the incredible Chant-like Supertzar. As with many of their albums, experimentation is at the forefront here with a wild array of tempo changes, multipart frameworks and unusual structures infecting numbers like The Thrill of it All, Megalomania and the wonderfully surreal The Writ. Even the raging opener Hole in the Sky breaks off for a soft interlude in Don't Start (Too Late) and the bombastic Symptom of the Universe concludes with a elegiac paean to love and beauty. A magnificent album that was misunderstood at its time.

Technical Ecstasy gets attacked by some of the posturing idiots in the metal community for eschewing the darker elements of the band's past, but there is nothing short of genius here, seeing the band embrace its prog-and-classic rock roots, with even a nod to their love of the Beatles (in the fantastic It's Alright, sung by Bill Ward). Mellotron and strings reappear again (the latter prominently in the somber She's Gone), while the languorous You Won't Change Me counterbalances the mystical Gypsy and rollicking opener Back Street Kids. Admittedly Rock 'n' Roll Doctor is a bit of a misfire, but it's fun and harmless. The standout track is the funk-inspired All Moving Parts (Stand Still), a trippy, nostalgic multiparter that manages to propel the album into the phantasmagoric realm of planet Black Sabbath, where their alternate-reality inducing songs roam the eldritch plains like creatures out of forgotten legend.

Finally, Sabbath's most reviled album (or at least on par with Technical Ecstasy) is in truth their masterpiece, and the real fans know how great an album this is. Incorporating all of the progressive elements they'd been building to, Never Say Die fuses Jazz with Metal to create their most emotional offering. The title track is optimistic and rocking, leading into the darkly brilliant undercurrents of Johnny Blade, and the exceedingly sorrowful Junior's Eyes (written about the death of Ozzy's father); this was followed by one of my all-time favorite songs, A Hard Road, which is endlessly mesmerizing swinger (with some of the best lyrics Butler ever committed to paper); the B side opens with their most progressive track to date, a spiraling multipart song called Shock Wave; the gorgeous Air Dance follows as one of their most beautiful numbers (later echoed lyrically by Rush's Losing It), ending with a wild jazz fugue that has to be heard to be believed; Over to You is another nostalgic number about the childhood we give up to the institutions we grow up under; the acid-induced Breakout is essentially a Big-Band song, and all the stranger for it, with the Bill Ward sung blues number Swinging the Chain concluding this emotional train ride.

Never Say Die is their greatest album to me because it brings to fruition what Black Sabbath had always injected into each of their albums, the spirit of experimentation and creativity, coupled with a dark note of reality and an idealistic, hopeful (even fantastic) look to the future, with heavy doses of Blues, Jazz, Prog Rock and the particular brand of Heavy Rock they brought into existence. But it's also an expression of rebellion, refusing to follow musical trends, even to the point of copying themselves, and yet staying true to their basic core (recalling that Sabbath -- under the auspices of the erstwhile Earth -- played Jazz and Blues songs prior to the composition of songs for the first album).

After the departure of Ozzy, Ronny James Dio steered the band into a whole other direction, that while musically excellent, is heavily reminiscent of Rainbow. Black Sabbath lost its heart when it lost Ozzy, but it also lost other things. Geezer Butler was the lyricist of the band, and an Irish bard of terrible power! While his earliest efforts are bludgeoning, he became an extremely accomplished writer throughout Sabbath's tenure; but with the arrival of Dio, he was replaced as song-scribe (perhaps unintentionally as he too had departed on Ozzy's passing); with his return to the fold, it was too late. Dio had taken over his chores. It also saw Tony Iommi no longer primarily responsible for the riffs and direction of the song; while Geezer, Ward and Osbourne had often contributed elements to the song (even writing their own at times) it was Iommi who was the master composer. Now it was Dio who influenced the path. Thus Heaven and Hell, despite 3 of the 4 original members being present, was a work primarily of Dio and Iommi. And it's clear by its very modern early 80's sound. By the time of Mob Rules (which is IMO a much better album), Bill Ward was out of the band, replaced by Vinnie Appice. Now it was 2 out of 4, and the entire dynamic was irrevocably changed. Truly, Ozzy's passing marked the end of an era, and the passing of a distinct surreal sound that permeates all eight albums."

Today, we have a series of reviews for you. The first review covers 12 titles from the recently released Japanese-styled Mini-LP Replica CD reissues for Brian Eno. In addition, I review a collection of Cabaret tunes from Revue Noir called Anthology Archive.

In addition, we are introducing you to another NYC band (we haven't done this for awhile) named Blacklist. I find them very good and thought...what the heck. You SHOULD hear about them. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.

Back on Wednesday.

If you have missed the last As The Disc Spins (updated), check it out here.

To access the previous site and catch up, click here.

 

 
 

 
   

Notes...

 

Epic Records has the new album from Brandy arriving on November 11. The album will be called Human.

Epic and Legacy will revisit a late '70s classic Live album that catapulted Cheap Trick into the upper echelon of the charts with a reissue of Live at Budokan. This 30th Anniversary celebratory rework will not only re-master the album but also expand with 2 more CDs and a DVD. I'll explain more as I get the info. This is planned for November 11.

The latest Columbia album by Neil Diamond, Home Before Dark, will be re-released on vinyl LP, scheduled for November 11.

Warner Brothers will release a new album from The Flaming Lips called Christmas on Mars. That album is will be a CD/DVD issue and will release on November 11.

Rhino Records have a collection of 2CD New Order reissues that will include Collector's Editions of Power, Corruption & Lies; Low-Life; Brotherhood; Movement; and Technique. The first disc wil house the original album in re-mastered state while the second disc will contain B-sides, remixes, and rarities. These refresh albums will list for $24.98 and will release on November 11.

Rhino will also release a 'best of' for The Smiths in both a single-disc set and a 2CD Deluxe Edition. the collection will be called The Sound of The Smiths: The Very Best of The Smiths. The second disc of the Deluxe Edition will add in B-Sides, Live cuts, and Rarities, 23 total. The 2CD Deluxe Edition will list for $29.98. Both are expected on November 11.

Atlantic is releasing an LP of Intimacy by Bloc Party planning for October 28. We have a review of the album coming very shortly so watch for that.

Atlantic Records is going the way of the popular mini-LP replica CDs, this time for Led Zeppelin. They will be releasing a Box of the discs in celebration of the band's 40th Anniversary. All covers will be from their UK LP releases. some of the goodies include the original 1969 debut self-titled, which was released with turquoise ink for the band's name and the Atlantic label. subsequent releases used orange ink (as a bonus, the Box will include a sleeve with the orange ink). The Physical Grafitti album will include the Grammy-award nominated cover with the interchangable window illustrations. Another Grammy-nominated cover, In Through the Out Door (1979), will feature the different shots of the bar scene from different perspectives as a bonus set of slip-covers. Led Zeppelin III (1970) will feature a gatefold sleeve. This Box (Led Zeppelin Definitive Mini-LP Replica CD Boxset) will have all 10 - including Coda (1982) - albums. It is scheduled for November 4 and will retail for $199.98.

Atlantic will release the soundtrack for the upcoming vampire film, Twilight on November 4.

Reprise Records will release a Live album for Stevie Nicks called Live in Chicago, which is planned for release on October 28.

Finally, watch for a 2DVD video for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers called Runnin' Down a Dream. This is planned for release on October 28. The DVD is for the feature-length documentary as filmed by Peter Bogdonovich.

Here's a note on the upcoming re-release of Number Ones for The Bee Gees. This album is being re-released as the UK/Japanese version that inlcudes 2 extra songs not found on the US release ("Islands in the Stream," "Immortality (Original Demo Version)"). This one comes back on October 28 from Reprise Records.

 

 

 
   

 
Review - Brian Eno - Japanese Mini-LP Replica (US) Reissues - CD
 

These grand classic Brian Eno reissue titles have been imported and are being sold in the US. These releases are Limited so be sure to grab 'em when you can. They take advantage of the 2004 re-masters and are repackaged in these popular mini-LP jackets. Nice collector stuff. the titles ranged from Here Come the Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain to later titles from the Ambient series up to Thursday Afternoon.

 

 
Review - Revue Noir - Anthology Archive - CD
 

This collection of what is known as Dark Cabaret are songs assembled from various recordings and materials. This Anthology Archive also serves as an excellent primer into the genre of the Cabaret style employed by a few artists. Revue Noir should give you a lot of fun.

 

 
For Your Consideration - Blacklist - NYC
 

Blacklist is another band from NYC that I have discovered amongst MySpace pages that I like pretty well. With a sound like the stuff from the '80s and sounding so NYC, it's hard to avoid this stuff. PLUS, they have a free downloadable EP (Blacklist EP - 2005) of music, along with their newest one, Solidaire, available to purchase. And you could even download a song from it for free. Check these guys out. I think that you'll become fans. Click the MySpace button below for access to their music and EPs.

 

 

 
     
   
     
     


 

 

   
 
     

 

Copyright 2002-2008 Matthew Rowe.
All rights reserved.All trademarks are properties of their respective owners.
Disclaimer: various news pieces may state a specific media publication or program as a source. All other news is considered 'rumour' only. That goes double for release dates.

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"Even though most of the people I knew in my youth are gone, I still reach out to them..." Norman Maclean - Paraphrase

"...we should enjoy every sandwich." -- Warren Zevon
"Buy the ticket, take the ride." -- Hunter S Thompson
"...you best wake up 'fore tomorrow comes creepin' in...: -- Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad)
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"Because they wouldn't let me go for three..." -- Woody Hayes (OSU)
"Show me peaceful days before my youth has gone" -- Neil Diamond (Serenade)