Sabotage (Black Sabbath album)
|Studio album by Black Sabbath|
|Released||28 July 1975 (US, Warners)
August/September 1975 (UK, Nems Records)
|Recorded||February–March 1975 at Morgan Studios in London, England|
Warner Bros. (US/Canada)
|Producer||Black Sabbath, Mike Butcher|
|Black Sabbath chronology|
Black Sabbath began work on their sixth album in February 1975, again in England at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London. The title Sabotage was chosen because the band were at the time being sued by their former management and felt they were being "sabotaged all the way along the line and getting punched from all sides", according to Tony Iommi. Iommi credits those legal troubles for the album's angry, heavier sound.
Guitarist Iommi, who produced the album, said that "We could've continued and gone on and on, getting more technical, using orchestras and everything else which we didn't particularly want to. We took a look at ourselves, and we wanted to do a rock album – Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath wasn't a rock album, really."
The final part of "Symptom of the Universe" evolved from an in-studio jam. It was created very spontaneously in a single day and the decision was made to use it in that song. The London Philharmonic Choir was brought in to perform on the song "Supertzar". When vocalist Ozzy Osbourne arrived at the studio and saw them, he thought he was in the wrong studio and left.
The tour in support of Sabotage was the first in which Black Sabbath used a full-time keyboardist onstage, Gerald "Jezz" Woodroffe.
Music and lyrics
The album is a mix of heavy, powerful songs such as "Hole in the Sky" and "Symptom of the Universe", and softer experimental songs such as "Supertzar" and "Am I Going Insane (Radio)". The title of the latter caused some confusion due to the "(Radio)" part, which led people to believe the song was a radio cut or radio version. However, this is the only version of the song: the term "radio-rental" is rhyming slang for "mental".
"The Writ" was one of only a handful of Black Sabbath songs to feature lyrics composed by vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, who typically relied on bassist Geezer Butler for lyrics. The song was a response to the frustrations Osbourne felt at the time, as Black Sabbath's former management were suing the band after having been fired. At one point during recording, a representative of their former management entered the studio and served the band a writ to appear in court. During this period, the band began to question if there was any point to recording albums and touring endlessly "just to pay the lawyers".
Release and reception
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Sabotage was released on 27 June 1975. For the second time, a Black Sabbath album initially saw favourable reviews, with Rolling Stone stating "Sabotage is not only Black Sabbath's best record since Paranoid, it might be their best ever", although later reviewers such as Allmusic noted that "the magical chemistry that made such albums as Paranoid and Volume 4 so special was beginning to disintegrate".
Sabotage peaked at number 7 in the United Kingdom and at number 28 in the United States. It was certified Silver (60,000 units sold) in the UK by the BPI on 1 December 1975 and Gold in the US on 16 June 1997, but was the band's first release not to achieve platinum status in the US. Songs such as "Hole in the Sky", and "Symptom of the Universe" became fan favourites. Black Sabbath toured in support of Sabotage with openers KISS, but were forced to cut the tour short in November 1975, following a motorcycle accident in which Osbourne ruptured a muscle in his back.
Lyrics and music by Black Sabbath (Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward)
|1.||"Hole in the Sky"||4:00|
|2.||"Don't Start (Too Late)" (instrumental)||0:49|
|3.||"Symptom of the Universe"||6:29|
|5.||"The Thrill of It All"||5:56|
|6.||"Supertzar" (instrumental with vocalising choir)||3:44|
|7.||"Am I Going Insane (Radio)"||4:17|
Some versions of Sabotage contain a short hidden track entitled "Blow on a Jug" at the end of "The Writ", recorded at very low volume.
Sabotage's front cover art has garnered mixed reactions over the years and is regarded by some as one of the worst album covers in rock history. The inverted mirror concept was conceived by Graham Wright, Bill Ward's drum tech who was also a graphic artist. The band attended what they believed was a test photo shoot for the album cover, thus explaining their choice of clothing. Said Ward, "The only thing we didn't discuss was what we'd all wear on the day of the shot. Since that shoot day, the band has survived through a tirade of clothing comments and jokes that continue to this day". Ward, in fact, was wearing his wife's red tights in the photo.
- Ozzy Osbourne – lead vocals
- Tony Iommi – all guitar, piano, synthesizer, organ, harp
- Terry "Geezer" Butler – bass guitar
- Bill Ward – drums, percussion (piano on "Blow on a Jug")
- Will Malone – arrangements for the English Chamber Choir
- Black Sabbath – co-producer
- Mike Butcher – co-producer / engineer
- Robin Black – engineer
- David Harris – tape operator and saboteur
- Iommi, Tony (2011). Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-30681-9551.
- Rosen 1996, p. 80
- Black Sabbath Online: Sabotage
- Osbourne, Ozzy (2011). I Am Ozzy. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-0446569903.
- Prato, Greg. "Sabotage AMG Album Review". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
- Altman, Billy (25 September 1975). "Sabotage Album Review". Rolling Stone (196). Retrieved 2008-02-25.
- "Black Sabbath: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- "UK chart history – Black Sabbath Sabotage". www.chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
- "AllMusic Billboard albums". Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- "BPI certified awards". Retrieved 2009-02-08.[dead link]
- "RIAA Gold & Platinum database". Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- Black Sabbath’s ‘Sabotage’ Earns Spot on Top 50 Worst Album Covers List http://loudwire.com/black-sabbaths-sabotage-top-50-worst-album-covers/
- Sabotage – 2009 Remastered Edition liner notes.
- Rosen, Steven (1996). The Story of Black Sabbath: Wheels of Confusion. Castle Communications. ISBN 1-86074-149-5