Sunday, October 12, 2008

Black Sabbath - The Black Sabbath Story: Vol I 1970-1978

Of all the Black Sabbath material I have seen, heard, or experienced in my lifetime of experiencing Black Sabbath videos, cds, clips, etc. this video has to be my favorite. I prefer the Dio years to the Ozzy years, but the reason why I love this video so much is due to the attention given to Bill Ward and Geezer Butler - Geezer in the interviews, and Bill Ward in the video clips and segments. You can really get a feel for both of their playing and for their immense musical prowess (as if that was ever an issue). In short, this video exemplifies the two members of the band that, in my opinion get the smallest amount of attention yet deserve the greatest amount of attention.

There is some truly golden footage here. The conceptual video for "Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath" is hilarious due to Ozzy's facial expressing during cutaway segments of the video. Also, Ozzy's dancing in War Pigs is also worth seeing for the laugh but as comedic as the videos are, it is important to remember that this video is as much of a sociological and historical account of the early Sabbath years and the culture at that time as it is a documentation of Sabbath's early material. I do laugh at times at the video, its hard not to sometimes with Ozzy's stage clothing seemingly borrowed from the nearest hippy-cowboy store - at times I wouldn't be surprised to see Geezer or Iommi or Ozzy riding a tie-die pony onto stage - though the magnitude of each song presented always makes me stifle my laughter and bow down to such masterful progenitors.

Amongst the classic footage of War Pigs and the unbelievably classic footage of Paranoid are videos of Bill Ward singing solo accompanied by Geezer Butler on bass (It's Alright) and a decisively rock and roll song way different from what we are normally used to hearing from the Birmingham godfathers (Rock N Roll Doctor). These two songs reveal a much more expansive and varied ability on the part of Black Sabbath. Though Iommi has always had a certain talent for the blues - most evident on the debut - Rock N Roll Doctor shows him in top form years later.

The quality of the videos is excellent. The sound quality on each song is strong. None of the videos are bootleg recordings or difficult to hear. "Children of the Grave" gets my vote for poorest quality though the footage is incredible. A sea of fans, elated to see the band shot from the back of the stage above the drums occupies a large portion of the video though my favorite shot is of Ozzy removing his tasseled shirt and throwing it into the audience - it makes me wonder if that shirt still exists somewhere, a fragment of musical history lost to the years.

Between each of the ten tracks are interviews with Iommi and Butler which provide context and anecdotes for the songs, moments in time, and Black Sabbath story. These interviews show both men in as professionals artists and, most importantly, simple good friends.

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