Somebody shared this video with me today, and I enjoyed it well enough. The tunes ride along on some serious riffage, Ozzy is entertaining in a frantic, brain-addled kind of way, and — I noticed this for the first time today — the lyrics are actually kind of clever.
Then I started thinking about all that must have seemed completely bizarro about this to mainstream rock audiences in 1970-1971: the stripped-down, sludgy, riff-centric sound, the unbeautiful Ozzy, and — I noticed this, too, for the first time today — the apeshit pounding on the drums, bashing away on open hi-hats and crash cymbals from start to finish, etc. That ain’t no “Across the Universe,” bub. It’s not even “Communication Breakdown!”
Then I stopped myself and wondered: hey, Hrrundi, you silver-tongued, sly, handsome devil — are you mythologizing the things about Black Sabbath that had the staying power to still be cool in the 21st century? Maybe these guys were totally ho-hum back in the day. You’re old — but you’re not old enough to remember how these guys were perceived by the rock music buying public when this stuff came out.
I answered: Hrrundi, you sexy motherfucker, you’re right. You don’t know shit! Which is why I’m asking BigSteve and any other ancient RTH denizens — those who didn’t take so many damn drugs that they can’t remember whether their pee went up or down in the ’60s and ’70s — to tell us their recollections. Think back — back through the fog of dope smoke, the sight of topless chicks wigging out in the third row and the stench of sweat-soaked buckskin — and tell us, if you will, what the world of 1970-1971 thought of…Black Sabbath.