If you have any interest in contemporary music, you are very well aware about Black Sabbath’s importance in the creation of what’s known today as heavy metal. While the early days of the band started with a different musical direction, more towards blues-rock and psychedelia, their notoriety became imminent when they released their debut record Black Sabbath.
The self-titled debut was originally released in the UK before hitting the American shelves on June 1st of 1970. It ultimately reached number 23 on the Billboard 200, where it remained for more than a year, selling one million copies. While this may seem strange to any current Black Sabbath fan, its reception at the time was pretty unfavorable. In fact, it was deemed to be a “shuck” by Rolling Stone, with famed critic Lester Bangs elaborating:
Vocals are sparse, most of the album being filled with plodding bass lines over which the lead guitar dribbles wooden Claptonisms from the master’s tiredest Cream days. They even have discordant jams with bass and guitar reeling like velocitized speedfreaks all over each other’s musical perimeters yet never quite finding synch — just like Cream! But worse.
That sort of criticism wasn’t going to stop Black Sabbath from becoming one of the most important pieces of modern music ever, creating the path to one of the most loyal and controversial movements: Heavy Metal.
Black Sabbath was recorded in a single session in November 1969, with the band setting up their gear in a small studio and running through their live set. The lack of frills and contrivance worked to advantage, as the group’s riff-driven, blues-based hard rock came through loud and clear on “The Wizard,” “N.I.B.,” “Warning,” and, of course, “Black Sabbath.” The only effects added to the album were the tolling bell and thunderstorm that provide a chilling opening to the title track.
As we explained on one of our Top 5’s a few years ago, there was definitely music out there before that was heavy, but Black Sabbath’s sludgy, heavy, dark music was pretty much the polar opposite of the hippie flower children peace and love movement of 1969, and ushered in a new era of music.
As usual, we invite you to take a moment and celebrate another year of life and influence by this record by spinning it for your children so they can appreciate the root of all the music that is evil.