The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Black Sabbath

5-20-08 Black Sabbath

By hanging out in hippie record stores, I was ‘hip’ to the Vertigo label by the end of 1970. The staff of the hippie record stores were rather cooperative and encouraging to me, as a youngster. If I asked about an LP, they would offer to play it for me, on the stereo of the shop. Here comes May Blitz!

So, I saw the first Black Sabbath LP and had no clue as to what it was. But after May Blitz and Uriah Heep – I was curious about any band on Vertigo. The US Black Sabbath LP’s were on Warner Brothers; it’s fun to imagine Mo Ostin sitting through a 1970 Black Sabbath gig somewhere, getting his helpers to go find a band manager to discuss the group with etc.

Almost certainly, my introduction to BS was hearing “War Pigs” from “Paranoid”, their 2nd album. Ooh, a Vertigo copy is $5, but a US copy was half that. The Vertigo copy was shiny. But the US copy won out – economics dictated the $2.44 US copy, so another LP could be obtained that day too – can’t remember what it was, but…

I think I eventually heard the debut album on the FM radio – and an inexpensive US Warners copy was easily obtained. I wasn’t a fool when album #3, “Master Of Reality” walked down the pike – I got a Vertigo copy, with the reversed inner-sleeve and labels, the green poster, flap top etc. Alas, I sold my UK original of it some years later, doubtlessly for at least 10-fold what I had paid for it in summer 1971. A friend of mine had a US white label promo of “Master of Reality” with a paper timing strip on the front cover, with additional names tacked onto some songs (I’ll have to see if he still has it, and get the details).

In ’71 & ’72 – I was ‘finishing’ with bands at an alarming rate. I ditched Jethro Tull after “Thick As A Brick”, I nearly clocked off of King Crimson after “Islands” and “Master of Reality” was the last Black Sabbath album that I bought ‘as new’ for a while. Had to make way for the Neu, Can, Cluster, Faust, Focus LP’s etc. Here comes the Euro-prog science!

I made it back into the fold for the final Ozzy album, “Never Say Die”. I think I was given a free copy of it – from a label person or maybe even at the pressing plant. Anyway, I liked it, it was good (I still like it!). I believe I went and saw them, when they toured it, circa ’80 or so – I won’t go into it, but I also saw the Blizzard of Ozz a few times, too.

Never particularly knew what to make of Black Sabbath after Ozzy left. I am OK with all the contiguous Ozzy Black Sabbath LP’s. I am currently reading “How Black Was Our Sabbath”, an ‘unauthorized’ book written by some BS roadies. Seems like I’m halfway through the book and we’re not even up to “Master of Reality” yet. I’ve owned a few BS rarities – a Fontana “Evil Woman” single with the horn section still on it, a Vertigo “Evil Woman” original 45 etc. I have a real Vertigo 1st album that I found in a shop specializing in 12” singles. “Ooh, what’s this? You can’t dance to it!”. Well, I can.


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