Black Sabbath: “The Eagles were recording next door, but we were too loud for them”

Album by album with the Midlands metal pioneers

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Vertigo, 1971
The classic second album. An apogee of Iommi riffing, a whiff of Satan, and a hit single, too…

OZZY: Paranoid went from four tracks to 16 tracks. 16 tracks! The temptation was to fuck around with effects: we thought we were Pink Floyd meets The Beatles meets acid, y’know?
TONY: There was no-one doing this sort of thing. A lot of people were honestly frightened of us in the early days. We weren’t allowed to do interviews either, which made it more interesting in some ways. The image was built up by people talking… this satanic sort of thing.
GEEZER: We’d written “War Pigs” already. It was called “Walpurgis” back then. When the label wanted to know what the next LP would be called, we said we’d got a song called “Walpurgis” and we wanted to call it that. They said, “What does that mean?” And we said, “It’s Satan’s Christmas.” They said, “No, thank you.”
TONY: You get labelled as a black magic band and all that rubbish, but it was a more about what was going on in the world. “War Pigs” came up when we were playing at this club in Zurich and we had to play seven 45-minute spots a day. We hadn’t got enough songs, so we used to just make stuff up. And “War Pigs” was one of the things I just made up. Gradually, through the six weeks we were at the club, it took shape and we ended up with the song.
GEEZER: The very last thing we did in he studio was “Paranoid” – we had three minutes to fill for it to be a legal album. Tony wrote the riff, I quickly did the lyrics. Then the record company heard it and changed the whole title to Paranoid.
TONY: The album wasn’t long enough, and that’s how “Paranoid” came about. We’d never written a two-and-a-half minute song. I started picking around, had it in a couple of minutes, we learnt it and recorded it. I didn’t think for a minute it was going to be a hit.
GEEZER: After Top Of The Pops, we were getting teenage girls coming to the gigs. They were climbing onstage and molesting us while we played. That was the good part. But we knew that if we carried on like that, we’d just be another pop band. So we said, “No more singles.”
OZZY: I could afford to have a bath and put some smelly stuff on. It was just a great period of my life. The early days are always the best. I remember being in a club in Birmingham and posing around like the new child of rock, then the manager comes up to me and says, “Your album’s going in the charts at 17 next week.” I said, “Pull the other one!”


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