Black Sabbath were a perfect badge for that puzzling frisson between early ‘70s rock’s gatekeepers and its actual fans. The gatekeepers, epitomized by the Rolling Stone staff, idolized the blandly folksy likes of James Taylor while compulsively slagging off the actual innovators who were making potent and lastingly influential music, not because the music was actually bad (though they’d tell you all day long that it was unlistenable), but because they couldn’t handle it’s heaviness. So you had a situation where the official chroniclers of the era’s music (with a few notable exceptions, of course) were 180º out of touch with the actual zeitgeist, handwaving the likes of Zeppelin, Purple and Sabbath as primitives and degenerates while informing their readers that the tepid sounds of Seals and Crofts were in fact what was really happening in music. I actually don’t understand why RS was ever taken seriously by rock fans as a source of information. If not for Matt Taibbi’s political/economic writing, it wouldn’t even be on my radar today.
But Sabbath got a great dig in against that plurality of critics who seemed to live on a different planet from rock music’s actual supportive fans—in 1978, they issued a promotional book called Black Sabbath—The Ten Year War. My attention was brought to its existence through a thread on I Love Music’s forums, posted by one Scott Seward, who I’m guessing might be the writer whose byline used to appear in the Village Voice, but don’t hold me to that. The book was a 9” square, 24-pager that appeared in time to publicize the Never Say Die album—the band’s last studio recording with founding singer Ozzy Osbourne until 2013—and which basically amounted to a HUGE potshot at greater rockcritdom, chronicling the band’s existence with negative press clippings scattered among shamelessy Crumb-derivative illustrations by one “F. Gutierrez,” of whose existence or career I’ve located no other evidence. Images reproduced here are from Seward’s ILXor thread, where you can see the entire book. Good luck procuring one—eBay has one for $75, and the Amazon marketplace seems unaware of its existence.
The Rolling Stone clip: Black Sabbath: Cream on Ice:
NEW YORK—“They’re cheap,” says the maven of the city’s rock and roll culturati. “When I saw them at the Fillmore, I thought they were awful. They’ll never make it, I thought. Well, I was Wrong. The kids gave them a standing ovation.
Black Sabbath is hardly what you want to hear in the background while you’re getting your hair shaped in the maroon gloom of the stylist’s in preparation for an evening of chit-chat around the vodka-filled hookah. The sound of Black Sabbath, as those around them fondly point out, is almost physically threatening.
Black Sabbath is making it big this year and no one knows why.
I don’t know what that writer got for the line “hardly what you want to hear in the background while you’re getting your hair shaped in the maroon gloom of the stylist’s in preparation for an evening of chit-chat around the vodka-filled hookah,” but he or she should have gotten life in solitary confinement.
Continues after the jump…