Friday, September 25, 2015
Released on September 25th, 1972, the fourth disc from this legendary band was met with mixed reviews, due in part to a slightly different sonic approach. Beginning with the mournful strains of the multi-part, very clever "Wheels of Confusion", the listener is treated to greater clarity in sound. Their last release (Master Of Reality) had an extremely "compressed" feel in the final mix, with drum heads taped, dampened and smothered. The whole record sounded as if it was recorded in a closet. Leaving the UK behind, the group opted to tape their new compositions at the Record Plant in sunny Los Angeles. The result was a much less claustrophobic listening experience, with individual instruments allowed to breathe, specifically the drums.
This is one monster of a record, but don't simply take it from me. Listen to this guy.
I'll bet that some PR genius thought that this radio spot was a TERRIFIC idea. All that's missing is Vincent Price, laughing until he gives himself serious internal injuries.
My degree in capitalization is really starting to pay off.
Tony Iommi comes up with an array of interesting guitar figures that Ozzy is now singing against, rather than along with. Cigar for some interesting lyrics, courtesy of Mr. T.G. Butler. Kurt Cobain was definitely listening to "Tomorrow's Dream" while he was dreaming up "Pennyroyal Tea". This cowbell driven romp sounds as if the guitars were dipped in maple syrup and piled on to form a sludgy, beautiful noise. Excellent, early-stage grunge from the masters. Frank Zappa once proclaimed "Supernaut" to be the "greatest rock track of all time." Whether he was kidding or not, the rotating riff is the key ingredient. The band was nose-deep in snow during this period, which doesn't completely excuse them from bringing "FX" or "Changes" into the world, though it definitely explains their inclusion here.
There is a strong case to be made that "Laguna Sunrise" nudged Jimmy Page into coming up with "The Rain Song". "Cornucopia" has Bill Ward expertly steering the others through a myriad of time signature shifts, as he does on the magnificent album closer, "Under the Sun" (which reportedly caused Ward some strife in trying to nail down his part). That riff in the third part of of this track sounds uncomfortably close to the one that Blackmore deployed in Deep Purple's "Flight of the Rat". One of the very few incidences of Iommi following, rather than leading. This massive slab of vinyl signalled the last gasp of the early Sabbath approach (which was to record very quickly) and pointed the way toward the change in sound that would shape their uniformly excellent next set, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Spontaneity began to vanish from the recording process, as it would take far longer for the quartet to produce new material. Two more "classic" LPs would appear after this one before a decline in momentum and overall quality set in.