Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Thursday, April 14, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, # 45


Black Sabbath

Back when I was at school in 1979/1980 I was placed in the 'top set' for French. Because of this I was also 'allowed' to study German. The teacher for this subject was a great burly man with a big frizz of wiry salt-and-pepper hair named John Collier. He was also a sculptor and ran the school photography club, which to my very great regret I never joined. I remember one lesson where he had wanted us to be so steeped in the German culture he wanted to hold a wine-tasting session during one of the classes, with wines from the Mosel and Rhine valleys. We duly coughed up our two quid and one lesson he let us sample little nips of these wines. Great news for me, because other people who didn't want to try the wine or didn't like it gave their samples to me. What a great afternoon that was.
Mr. Collier also thought it might be a good idea for us to learn the words of a German pop song, and so he chose one by the band Cindy & Bert  entitled "Aber Am Abend (da spielt der Zigeuner)". It was a typically cheesy slice of 70s Euro-crap, and it came as no surprise to learn that Cindy & Bert had been Eurovision contestants. How odd, then to find out that these Euro-cheese exponents had also recorded their own version of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", re-titled "Der Hund von Baskerville". Wanna hear this masterpiece? Of course you do. Happy to oblige.

Of course this version isn't nearly as cool a slice of rip-snortin' protopunk as the original by Ozzy and the lads. A song that has been placed on too many "greatest Rock song/metal song/guitar song/hard rock song ever" to name, and one that has been re-recorded by Ozzy several times with different lineups of his band. A song that is to the country of Finland what Stairway to Heaven is to Great Britain, and Sweet Home Alabama is to, well, Alabama really. And pretty much the rest of "the Southland" (dammit, I hate that phrase. I mean, whenever it gets used, it's usually a Southerner (by which I mean somebody from the American South) using it, so why the addition of the suffix -land is necessary I cannot imagine. We know what the hell you're referring to, Jethro). But I digress.
I was talking about Finland. Yes, apparently at any given gig by any band in Finland, no matter what style of music the artist plays, the crowd will inevitably include one twat, I mean punter who will shout at some point "Soittakaa Paranoid!"  which means "I say chaps,sorry to interrupt but would you mind awfully playing Paranoid for me. Ta ever so." Gotta love them kooky Finns.


Paranoid of course comes from Sabbath's second album, also titled Paranoid, an album that has always seemed to me to have one of the strangest examples of cover artwork ever. Apparently the weirdly distorted photo of an oddly dressed sword-wielding bearded guy in a helmet jumping out from behind a tree is meant to represent a "war pig", as in the song War Pigs. To me it's just a weirdly distorted photo of an oddly dressed sword-wielding bearded guy in a helmet jumping out from behind a tree. But that's just me.

The story of how the song came about is one of those chance occurrences that happen from time to time. The band went into the studio after the release of Black Sabbath in early 1970 to record their second album, and had just about completed  when at the last minute, as record companies are apt to do from time to time, Vertigo Records requested a single.
As drummer Bill Ward explains: "We didn't have enough songs for the album, and Tony [Iommi] just played the "Paranoid" guitar lick and that was it. It took twenty, twenty-five minutes from top to bottom."


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