Ginger Nuts of Horror
BY ANDREW FREUDENBERG
So it’s 1971 and those crazy young guys from Birmingham have put out their third album. You’ve kind of dug their first two releases, as bizarre and original as they are, and you’re keen to find out just what the hell they’ll do next. You’ve played ‘Led Zeppelin III’ and ‘Deep Purple In Rock’ to death; you’re ready for some new sounds. So you gather your friends, roll up a fat one, crank the stereo and it’s time. You hear that loop of Tony Iommi coughing and, boom, ‘Sweet Leaf’ is blowing your mind for the first time…
Paranoid may not have created heavy metal in and of itself, but it sure as shit smashed down the doors and led the charge for the genre, kicking up poisonous dust in its wake as it cleaved its way into the hearts and minds of a youth struggling through a tumultuous time in history.
“Sympathy for the music industry!” I hear them shout in unison.
I can relate. There’s a whole lot of bullshit out there.
You know of what I speak. I’m not talking about mainstream pop music here. Modern pop exists in its own mundane, artless bubble, and it’s not worth my time or yours. What really stings, is the lack of real vision, real danger, in mainstream Rock’n’Roll.
I’m talking about all those bands who should know better, who quietly limp along with nothing new to say or bring to the table, recycling the same old well-established ingredients while chasing after the fool’s gold that comes with mainstream acceptability. Inevitably, the results are mediocre, diluted versions of the trailblazing works that have come before them. Lifeless, lacking vision, standing uselessly on the shoulders of the fearless artists who have come before, peering over the wall of their mediocrity at the unattainable genius beyond.
THE SUN, THE MOON, THE STARS, BLACK SABBATH, FANTASY, AND THE SATANIC PANIC: A REFLECTION BY BRACKEN MACLEOD
"My friends and I were unwittingly thrust into the center of a dangerous counter-culture, and listening to the songs on Black Sabbath was like hearing the shot heard ‘round the world. It was a rallying hue and cry for teen rebellion."
I grew up in an environment filled with music. Something was always playing either in the car or the house (at least until we got cable—that’s right, not everyone always had cable their entire lives) and so I grew up accustomed to always having music to fill the otherwise quiet moments in life. My mother’s collection of vinyl and 8-tracks included The Doors, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, 10CC, Buffy Saint Marie, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Kiki Dee, and Fleetwood Mac.
But what she didn’t have was Black Sabbath...
Following on from last year's highly successful Summer of Maiden, curated by Kit Power, Ginger Nuts of Horror returns with "Summer of Sabbath". The brainchild of Andrew Freudenberg, Summer of Sabbath celebrates the magic, the myth and the music of the masters of metal Black Sabbath. Featuring reviews and articles from some of horror's finest writers, this massive retrospective of the career of one of the most influential bands of all time is set to be a must read for your Summer days and Autumn nights.
Formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, singer Ozzy Osbourne, and drummer Bill Ward. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970) and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.
Formed in 1968 as the Polka Tulk Blues Band, a blues rock band, the group went through line up changes, renamed themselves as Earth, broke up and reformed. By 1969, they had named themselves Black Sabbath after the film Black Sabbath starring Boris Karloff, and began incorporating occult themes with horror-inspired lyrics and tuned-down guitars. The band's first show as Black Sabbath took place on 30 August 1969, in Workington. Signing to Philips Records in November 1969, they released their first single, "Evil Woman" in January 1970. Their debut album, Black Sabbath, was released on Friday the 13th, February 1970, on Philips' newly formed progressive rock label, Vertigo Records. Though receiving a negative critical response, the album was a commercial success and reached number 8 in the UK Albums Chart, so the band returned to the studios to quickly record the follow up, Paranoid, which was released in 1970. The band's popularity grew, and by 1973's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, critics were starting to respond favourably.
The series kicks off this Monday with Bracken Macleod's look at their debut album.
SUMMER OF SABBATH'S CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Kyle M. Scott
Steven L. Shrewsbury
Ted E. Grau
If you would like to contribute to this amazing feature, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org (please mark your email Summer of Sabbath)
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I consider the first seven Iron Maiden albums to be perfect. Entirely perfect. Not a single misstep among them. There are more than a few missteps in No Prayer, Fear of the Dark, and Virtual XI, but generally speaking I am pretty forgiving of Iron Maiden. Albums like The X Factor and A Matter of Life and Death have their detractors but I defend them unwaveringly. It must be said, however, that a person can notice a difference in overall quality between the Maiden of old and the band we have today.
That is, until now....
The first thing I think of when someone mentions Iron Maiden is the cheeky image of Eddie the Head who has fascinated me ever since I was a young girl. In truth, when I was little, he frightened me a little. I don’t even remember where I first saw him, but he’s been in my life off and on for quite some time. Which is funny, because my parents aren’t exactly metal heads. My mom prefers Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley and a whole string of caterwauling Country singers. (Though I have to give her credit for introducing me to Bob Marley as a kid)
I do like a bit of Metal. I’m no stranger to Pantera, Rammstein, Alice in Chains, White Zombie, Sepultura and System of a Down, to name a few of my favourites. I even like the ‘uncool bands’ like Korn and Aerosmith. So it’s actually quite funny to think that I don’t really know Iron Maiden’s music. They have, after all, been a really big part in the development of the Metal scene.....
As the summer of Maiden reaches penultimate album The Final Frontier, the timing of this publication couldn’t be better. Iron Maiden have just announced their first full UK tour since The Final Frontier World Tour took Eddie and the boys across their homeland. Not only will the album be revisited, but the tour of England as well. I was lucky enough to catch five shows on the Final Frontier tour.......
I think the early years after Iron Maiden's reuniting with Bruce Dickinson are pretty rough. I was there on the first day to purchase Brave New World and I told myself how brilliant it was but, honestly, I always find myself skipping over that one in favor of more classic Maiden. Still, it had to be said that the band has a certain something now that they never did before. A kind of maturity, a kind of force. They just weren't able to harness it.
2006's A Matter of Life and Death is a different story, however. This is the album, for me, where it all comes together. This is a new Maiden sound that is distinct from the band they used to be but still maintains that INTEGRITY that is Iron Maiden. Part of that is helped by the fact that the band chose to not master the recording. This creates a “live” sound that the band has kept ever since and it is perfect for what they do. No frills. No bullshit. This is Iron Maiden.
When Iron Maiden released Brave New World in 2000, they effectively pressed a big red “REBOOT” button on their career. The return of Lord Dickinson to the Maiden fold immediately erased all of the bad ju-ju that had been created by the Blaze Bayley era (forever to be known as The Dark Ages) and the band rode that wave of goodwill straight back into the Enormo-Domes of the world.
Let’s be honest: BNW was and is a fine album, but in the grand scheme of things it wouldn’t have really mattered if it had been good or not; as long as the album had Dickinson behind the mic, the band could’ve simply crapped on a paper plate and the reaction still would’ve been (ala overjoyed, drunken Maiden fanboy) “F*CK YEAH DUUUUUDE! BRUUUUUCE IS BAAAAAAAAACK!! WOOOOO!”
Brave New World saw Bruce Dickinson return to Iron Maiden. Which made it fairly appropriate that this was the first Iron Maiden album that I bought. Thinking back (cue wavy ‘memory’ effect and harp music) it must have been about the year 2000. I was at that stage of my youth where I was obsessed with music. Every penny I had went on music, eyeliner and black nail varnish, or black t-shirts displaying the imagery of said music. I had exhausted the back catalogues of Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne and Kiss, and now Iron Maiden were recommended to me by a friend.
My existing impression of them at that time wasn’t particularly positive. Put down those pitchforks a moment, just hear me out before you chase me up to the old windmill. I was under the impression that Iron Maiden songs were all about dragons and goblins and such. Which I stand by, except it no longer bothers me because my music taste is much broader now. At the time, however, I was 15 years old and wanted my music to be about sex and girls and sexy girls. All three of which were things that I wasn’t getting much of. So, albums that seemed to me to be the rock music equivalent of Lord of the Rings? No thank you. Even if they did have a cool zombie thing on the album covers.