Black Sabbath looked into the abyss to satisfy their iron vengence and pacify the poison of porcine paranoia with the dark hand of doom. With the success of their eponymous debut the band went back into the studio only four months after it had been released. The sessions were produced by Rodger Bain with engineers Brian Humphries and Tom Allom at Regent Sound Studios and Island Studios in London with Tony Iommi on guitar and flute; Geezer Butler on bass guitar; Ozzy Osbourne on vocals; and Bill Ward on drums and congas; with Tom Allom adding piano on "Planet Caravan". The working title for the album was 'War Pigs'.
Iommi: “I think the reason this record turned out so well was that we had a long time to work out all the material. We were playing seven 45-minute sets each day in a dusty old club in Switzerland, in front of anywhere from three to two dozen people...Rehearsing like that for six weeks really tightened us up. It also enabled us to experiment more because we really only had enough songs for one set each day—certainly not seven. It gave us a chance to make stuff up and rearrange existing songs.”
Butler: "We literally went in and played as if it was a live gig. We didn't know anything about studios or production or engineering. We just went in, set up and played live in the studio and they recorded us. We did it all in less than a week. It sounds easy, but it's actually a really hard thing to do -- to record a band live in the studio and get the whole feeling across. A lot of producers tried that, but dismally failed. But Rodger and Tom just had the knack of doing it. And they'd just come up with a few suggestions here and there, and we'd do it...We really weren't doing anything back then besides sharing the occasional joint. We couldn't afford it. We couldn't even afford booze, so none of us were drinking yet. The music we were making was more a reflection of what we were thinking and experiencing at the time. We weren't into flower power and good vibes. That was crap to us, because from where we were, everything was bleak and dark...'Electric Funeral' was about the Cold War at the time. It was always touch and go whether Russia would drop the atomic bomb on us or we would drop the atomic bomb on them. So atomic war was always imminent, we thought. So we were as far removed from hippy flower power as you could get. We were four working class people in the most industrial part of England, and all we had to look forward to was dead-end jobs in factories. And we thought at any second we'd be called up to drop in to the Vietnam War, because it looked like Britain was going to get involved in it as well. So there wasn't much future in anything for us."
Osbourne: "I don't understand war. If you're on one side, and I'm on the other, and you get killed and I get killed, we've both lost. I'd have thought people would have learned, humanity would have learned. But I'm not turning into one of those fuckers, green people you know, going around Hyde Park, saying "Stop the War". That's not me...My job, if you can call it that, was to make kids have fun ... We were just four guys from Birmingham who couldn't even write our own names playing raw fucking music...I remember what a thrill it was to go from the back streets of Birmingham to Madison Square Garden in New York...it's like playing on Mars. You can't buy that."
'Paranoid' became the band's greatest success, going to number twelve in the US, five in Norway, two in Germany, and number one in the Netherlands and the UK. In the US, the album wasn't released until 1971, so as not to compete with the debut still on the charts.
"Paranoid" became a breakthrough smash for the band, going to number sixty-one in the US (with virtually no radio airplay), six in Norway, four in the UK, three in Austria, two in Switzerland, and number one in Germany. Butler: "The whole story of how we created that song is funny. It became the most popular song from the album, but it wasn't something we though much of when we wrote it. In fact, we finished the record and then the producer told us we needed one more song to finish up the album, so we just came up with 'Paranoid' on the spot. Tony [Iommi] just played this riff and we all went along with it. We didn't think anything of it. And then later the record company said, 'Hey guys, this is the best song on the album. Let's call the record Paranoid.' But we had originally wanted the record to be called War Pigs, and that's what the record company was planning as well when [they] came up with the record cover, which is really horrible to begin with. We didn't like it at all, but the label put it together, so we were stuck with it. The cover was bad enough when the album was going to be 'War Pigs' , but when it was 'Paranoid' it didn't even make sense [laughs]."
Finished with my woman 'cause she couldn't help me with my mind
People think I'm insane because I am frowning all the time
All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy
Think I'll lose my mind if I don't find something to pacify
Can you help me, occupy my brain?
I need someone to show me the things in life that I can't find
I can't see the things that make true happiness, I must be blind
Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry
Happiness I cannot feel and love to me is so unreal
And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state
I tell you to enjoy life I wish I could but it's too late
Butler: "The song was written as 'Walpurgis,' which sounds a little like 'War Pigs.' But 'Walpurgis' is sort of like Christmas for Satanists. And to me, war was the big Satan. It wasn't about politics or government or anything. It was evil. So I was saying "generals gathered in the masses/just like witches at black masses" to make an analogy. But when we brought it to the record company, they thought 'Walpurgis' sounded too Satanic. And that's when we turned it into 'War Pigs.' But we didn't change the lyrics, because they were already finished."
Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death's construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!
Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor
Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait 'till their judgment day comes
Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pig's crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!
I am iron man
Has he lost his mind?
Can he see or is he blind?
Can he walk at all,
Or if he moves will he fall?
Is he alive or dead?
Has he thoughts within his head?
We'll just pass him there
Why should we even care?
He was turned to steel
In the great magnetic field
Where he traveled time
For the future of mankind
Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
That he will soon unfold
Now the time is here
For Iron Man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved
Nobody wants him
They just turn their heads
Nobody helps him
Now he has his revenge
Heavy boots of lead
Fills his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Iron Man lives again!
All lyrics written by Geezer Butler, except where noted, all music composed by Black Sabbath (Iommi/Butler/Ward/Osbourne).
1. "War Pigs/Luke's Wall" 7:57
2. "Paranoid" 2:53
3. "Planet Caravan" 4:32
4. "Iron Man" 5:56
5. "Electric Funeral" 4:53
6. "Hand of Doom" 7:08
7. "Rat Salad" 2:30
8. "Jack the Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots" (lyrics by Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler) 6:15
live at L'Olympia Bruno Coquatrix in Paris 12/20/1970
0) Show intro / setting up for concert
2) Hand of Doom
3) Iron Man
4) Black Sabbath
6) Behind the Wall of Sleep
7) War Pigs
8) Fairies Wear Boots
Black Sabbath emerged from the industrial slums of Birmingham, England, in 1966. Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass), Bill Ward (drums) and John ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne (vocals and harmonica) originally comprised a blues band called Earth, which won a small but fanatical following in and around their home town.
Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut album, with its occult overtones and wall of sound, was released in early 1970 in the U.K., where it shot into the Top 20. American success was no less impressive for a group with an “underground” reputation. Black Sabbath reached Number 23 on the album charts and eventually sold more than one million copies.
The breakthrough came later that year with Paranoid, a pioneering heavy metal offering. Laden with Iommi’s driving guitar riffs, Ozzy’s eerie vocals and the thundering rhythm section of Butler and Ward, Paranoid reached Number One on British charts and Number Eight in the U.S. where it remained on the charts for more than a year and reached Platinum status. The title track, a harrowing descent into madness, was an FM radio staple. At the end of 1970, Black Sabbath embarked on a successful American tour, establishing themselves as a major concert attraction for years to come.
Paranoid introduced themes that would recur throughout Black Sabbath’s career – doom, destruction and realms beyond the grave. Its selections of original songs, including “War Pigs,” “Iron Man,” “Electric Funeral” and the album’s centerpiece, the six minute-plus “Fairies Wear Boots,” would set standards for countless heavy metal hopefuls to follow.
© 1970 Warner Bros. Records Inc. Printed in U.S.A.