The Australian band Buffalo was one of the earliest acts to show an obvious debt to heavy metal pioneers, Black Sabbath. Their Sabbath-inspired debut, Dead Forever…, came out in 1972 and sold over 25,000 copies. The Sydney-based group was signed to Vertigo Records, which was also Sabbath’s label in Australia.
Prior to the release of their third album, a live Buffalo set was recorded for Australian TV, with portions airing over multiple nights during the GTK (as in “get to know”) program. The below video is a collection of the five clips, ending with their version of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” which doesn’t appear on any Buffalo LP. If you want to skip to “Paranoid,” start at 19:47, though I’d suggest you watch the whole damn thing. You’ll be glad you did.
Black Sabbath is directly responsible for some of the hardest and heaviest sounds ever created by man or beast. One fateful day in Birmingham, seventeen-year-old sheet metal worker Tony Iommi lost a couple fingertips in a bloody industrial accident, and the world gained heavy metal as a result. Well, Iommi claims it was an accident, anyway. Seems more like a deal with the devil, if you ask me.
Anyway, despite their well-earned reputation as the grandfathers of everything hard, heavy, and unholy in general and the architects of blood-freezing doom metal in particular, early Sabbath wasn’t always heavy, all the time. They mellowed the fuck out on occasion. Brit DJ Robert E. Lee proves the case with the incredible Balearic Sabbath, a 35-minute excursion into Black Sabbath’s most placid moments, a slow n’ easy Sunday morning remix full of free-flowing flutes, jazzy coffeehouse guitar noodles and softly banged bongos. From “Planet Caravan” to “Laguna Sunrise” to “Solitude” and back, this droopy-eyed foray into Sabbath’s gentler side is the perfect soundtrack to your next lost weekend.
Black Sabbath clearly thinking about doing all kinds of illegal stuff.
“I wonder what jail I’ll wake up in tomorrow?”
—Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne musing about what might happen after one of his routine drug and alcohol induced blackouts back in the day.
If you could only use one word to describe what it’s like to be a part of the world of rock and roll it is this one: dangerous. First of all, the job isn’t really built for longevity, and it’s well known that many notable icons punched out of their mortal time clocks before they reached the age of 28 (aka, the 27 Club). There are the non-stop parties involving two good old heathen vices—sex and drugs, which at some point catches up with you in one way or another. Another job hazard of this (apparently) illustrious gig includes the occasional skirmish—or worse—with law enforcement. Let’s face it. If you’re in a successful touring rock band and you don’t already have a mugshot in your photo album, just wait. It’ll probably happen. And this leads me to the following breakdown highlighting the many crimes committed by the members of the greatest heavy metal band in history, Black Sabbath. And since Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne’s rap sheet is the longest, let’s start with him, shall we?
Though Ozzy’s bad behavior is infamous, he was apparently never arrested while he was with Sabbath, despite the fact that he was prone to relieving himself in places other than a toilet and was stark-raving drunk most days. Prior to joining the band, Ozzy held several strange jobs including working in a factory that produced car horns, a funeral home, and even a slaughterhouse. Since Ozzy and a straight job didn’t really get along, he turned to burglary to make a living. This landed the great and powerful Ozz in Winson Green prison for six weeks for petty theft after his father refused to pay his bail. While behind bars, Ozzy gave himself his famous “OZZY” knuckle tattoo using a sewing needle and graphite polish, as well as getting the two adorable smiley faces that adorn his kneecaps.
Ozzy being Ozzy in the 1970s.
While Sabbath’s antics are about as epic as they come, Ozz would completely run amok once he was kicked out of the band in 1979. His arrest record would grow to include public urination and intoxication after he took a piss close enough to the beloved historical landmark the Alamo in 1982 (wearing a dress no less) that he was banned from entering San Antonio for a decade. This was also the same year that Ozzy famously bit the head off of a live bat on stage in Iowa. In 1984 Ozzy was once again arrested for public intoxication and was sent off to the drunk tank after being found completely inebriated traipsing up and down the streets of Memphis’ Beale Street entertainment district. In 1989 he was charged with the attempted murder of his wife Sharon Osbourne whom he tried to strangle with his bare hands while completely blotto on whatever he could snort, pop or swill. Let’s also not forget that before Ozzy’s wife Sharon took over as his manager during his solo career, it was her father Don Arden (known not-so-affectionately as the Al Capone of pop managers), who called the shots. Arden was quite literally one of the most feared members of the music scene in England and once hung rival manager Robert Stigwood (Cream and the Bee Gees) by his feet from his office window over a dispute involving the Small Faces. Damn.
When it comes to Tony Iommi and breaking the law we start back In 1968 when the buzz-killing police raided Iommi’s home in Birmingham and found *gasp*marijuana residue for which the guitarist received the British equivalent of probation for two years. In 1973 he nearly lost his life to an overdose, technically a crime in itself, at a Sabbath show at the Hollywood Bowl. And that was after helping his bandmates snort $75K worth of blow in 1972. In 1983 he blew up a bunch of prized carp belonging to businessman and airline mogul Richard Branson while the band was recording Born Again at Branson’s studio in Oxfordshire. Then he trashed drummer Bill Ward’s car at a go-cart track and let it burn after it caught fire. Iommi has a long history of getting his kicks by blowing stuff up which he thankfully documented in his 2011 book Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath.
This morning I was alerted to the fact that the first Black Sabbath album was unveiled upon this world like an evil curse on this day 47 years ago. Try to imagine what kind of experience it was when someone first whacked Black Sabbath onto their turntable in 1970. There had never before been such a purposefully infernal-sounding racket in rock at that point and it set such a high watermark so as to almost never (ever?) have been topped in that category. Black Sabbath was radical, primal, primitive and quite unprecedented. The young group’s formula—Dennis Wheatley/Hammer Horror meets Cream/Vanilla Fudge—was ingenious and yet dumb enough to please the cheap seats.
What must Black Sabbath’s Black Sabbath‘s opening track “Black Sabbath” have sounded like when people got their first taste of the group? To properly appreciate how truly radical this must’ve been coming at you like a rock to the head just as the Sixties had ended—flower power this was definitely not—you’d really have to mentally erase the decades of imitators who have come since, which is difficult to do. If you trace heavy metal down to its root moment, its true moment of birth, it was when these four guys in their early twenties happened upon this sound:
At the time of the song’s composition, the group was still named Earth, which they knew they had to change due to another band already using it. When they noticed long lines waiting to get into a Boris Karloff film called Black Sabbath across the street from their rehearsal studio, they wondered if the punters would also line up for a sort of heavy horror rock. The band was renamed Black Sabbath and gained a new direction and winning formula that would make them famous and wealthy faster than a pact with Satan.
Writing at On This Deity, the Arch Drude Julian Cope had this to say about the album:
Cannily clad by their record company in a self-consciously Wiccan outer package more fustily archaic and holy than modern “secular” postwar New Testaments could ever have dared to be, and possessed at its centre of an enormous inverted cross, BLACK SABBATH summoned the ears of the Hippie Generation’s little brothers and dragged them jerking into the cold light of the 1970s. The Downer had begun.
Over the weekend, my Facebook feed—and a fair few others’ as well—blew up with a years-old video of a Dutch brass band called Heavy Hoempa busking Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” at the prog/metal festival ProgPower in 2013. Despite its age, the video went viral seemingly out of nowhere, racking up 50,000 shares in just a few days. If you weren’t one of its three million viewers, check it out now, it’s quite wonderful.
Thing is, that’s just a small taste of their offerings. The Uden-based Heavy Hoempa, which I’m pretty sure means “heavy busker,” specialize in metal covers; per Google translate, their self-description on Twitter is “Solid rock with a big wink from blazers with balls.” The band still exists, purveying quite wonderful versions of metal classics including “Paranoid,” “The Trooper,” and “Highway to Hell.”
Though it is often maligned by Black Sabbath fans as being “one of their worst albums,” I’ve always had a soft spot for the Born Again LP. Featuring Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan on vocals, many referred to this line-up as “Deep Sabbath.” Gillan, a rock super-star in his own right, was obviously no slouch, but Ozzy and Ronnie James Dio both left big shoes to fill in the Sabbath camp. Many fans at the time expressed great disappointment over the album recorded with this line-up.
It may have been hearing “Trashed” on a K-Tel compilation as a kid that warmed me to this era of Sabbath and that song in particular, but I’ll readily admit that the production on Born Again always left something to be desired. It always sounded a bit hollow to me and a bit cheesed out with the keyboards.
Fans have always been divided on the album’s iconic cover art as well. Some decrying it as one of the worst album covers of all time or at least, certainly, the worst Black Sabbath album cover, while others have found it to be a repellant work of genius. I’ve always adored the demonic baby image and its disturbingly vibrating blue and red color scheme. One of my favorite hardcore bands of the 1990s stole their logo directly from the hand-lettered “Born Again” font on the sleeve.
The story of this sleeve almost deserves its own post, but it’s totally worth reprinting here, direct from designer Steve Joule’s mouth, speaking to Black-Sabbath.com:
The Black Sabbath Born Again album sleeve was designed under extraordinary circumstances; basically what had happened was that Sharon and Ozzy had split very acrimoniously from her father’s (Don Arden) management and record label. He subsequently decided that he would wreak his revenge by making Black Sabbath (whom he managed) the best heavy metal band in the world, which, of course they are but back then in the early ’80’s they weren’t quite the international megastars that they had been in the ’70’s. His plans included recruiting Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, getting Bill Ward back in on drums and stealing as many of Sharon and Ozzy’s team as possible and as I was designing Ozzy’s sleeves at the time I of course got asked to submit some rough designs.
As I didn’t want to lose my gig with the Osbourne’s I thought the best thing to do would be to put some ridiculous and obvious designs down on paper, submit them and then get the beers in with the rejection fee, but oh no, life ain’t that easy. In all I think there were four rough ideas that were given to the management and band to peruse (unfortunately I no longer have the roughs as I would love to see just how bad the other three were as sadly my booze and drug addled brain no longer remembers that far back), anyway one of the ideas was of course the baby and the first image of a baby that I found was from the front cover of a 1968 magazine called Mind Alive that my parents has bought me as a child in order to further my education, so in reality I say blame my parents for the whole sorry mess. I then took some black and white photocopies of the image (the picture is credited to ‘Rizzoli Press’) that I overexposed, stuck the horns, nails, fangs into the equation, used the most outrageous colour combination that acid could buy, bastardized a bit of the Olde English typeface and sat back, shook my head and chuckled.
The story goes that at the meeting Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were present but no Ian Gillan or Bill Ward. Tony loved it and Geezer, so I’m reliably informed, looked at it and in his best Brummie accent said, “It’s shit. But it’s fucking great!” Don not only loved it but had already decided that a Born Again baby costume was to be made for a suitable midget who was going to wear it and be part of the now infamous ‘Born Again Tour.’ So suddenly I find myself having to do the bloody thing. I was also offered a ridiculous amount of money (about twice as much as I was being paid for an Ozzy sleeve design) if I could deliver finished artwork for front, back and inner sleeve by a certain date.
As the dreaded day drew nearer and nearer I kept putting off doing it again and again until finally the day before I sprang into action with the help of a neighbor, (Steve ‘Fingers’ Barrett) a bottle of Jack Daniels and the filthiest speed that money could buy on the streets of South East London and we bashed the whole thing out in a night, including hand lettering all the lyrics, delivered it the next day where upon I received my financial reward. But that wasn’t the end of it oh no, when Gillan finally got to see a finished sleeve he hated it with a vengeance and hence the now famous quote “I looked at the cover and puked!” Not wanting to sound bitchy but over the years I’ve said the same thing about most of Gillan’s album sleeves. He also allegedly threw a box of 25 copies of the album out of his window. Gillan might have hated it but Max Cavelera (Sepultura, Soulfly) and Glen Benton (Deicide) have both gone on record saying that it is their favorite album sleeve.
Like many of our DM readers I’m a huge fan of everything that the late Ronnie James Dio did during his time walking among us mere mortals. Dio’s love of music started early and by the late 50’s at the age of fifteen he was already gigging regularly with a band. When it came time for Dio to graduate high school he apparently turned down a scholarship (which he earned for playing the trumpet, a discipline that Dio credited his powerful vocal range to) at the plush and prestigious Juilliard School to pursue a career in rock and roll. The band that Dio started out with, The Vegas Kings went through several name/lineup changes until they ended up settling on the proggy sounding The Electric Elves that in turn evolved into the more metal-edged sounding moniker Elf sometime in the early part of 1970s.
Once the 70s rolled around Dio (and most of the rest of Elf) ended up hooking up with one of the guitar gods Dio would perform with during his career Ritchie Blackmore, and that relationship produced three Rainbow albums including one of my favorite records of all time 1978’s Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll. The reason I’m giving you my take on what the heavy metal history books refer to as Ronnie James Dio 101 is because when I mentioned in the title of this post that Dio was “covering” Black Sabbath I thought it might cause a few of our readers to throw a massive lump of “duh” in my general direction. But this is RJD circa 1972—a full seven years before he would front the sludgy outfit after Sabbath fired Ozzy who had become so “undependable” in 1979 that he stopped showing up to most of the band’s rehearsals. So to hear Elf along with Dio slaying one of Sabbath’s most epic jams, 1970’s “War Pigs” for a full nine-minutes in 1972 is rather surreal to say the least.
Ronnie James Dio, Ritchie Blackmore and Mr. Blackmore’s very metal Pilgrim hat.
The other notable covers that Elf performed live and recorded as demos back in 1972 (that became the bootleg known as Elf: War Pigs ‘72) are a mish-mash of hits from bands like The Who, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and even the odd Rod Stewart song. As a forever fan of all things Black Sabbath it’s nothing short of thrilling to listen to Dio take on Chuck Berry’s 1959 classic “Little Queenie” and win. I’m not going to go so far as to tell you that the all of the recordings are good, because they aren’t. But I did post a few of my favorite tracks from War Pigs ‘72 and feel like it’s an interesting snapshot into where Dio was headed and something that any hardcore fan of RJD would brag about owning just for its high (and slightly odd) nostalgia factor. I also included an original Elf track called “Driftin” which is a dreamy track reminiscent of Queen that really showcases Dio’s remarkable vocal range. Devil horns OUT!
Arrived here safely, but it is not a very nice place, I don’t think the people like long hair.
Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in a postcard to his parents while the band was on tour during their early days.
Memorabilia from the early days of Black Sabbath including a rare show poster advertising the band under their original name “Earth” will head to an auction at the end of September at the Sheffield Auction Gallery. According to the house the items were discovered by a resident of the the town of Sheffield in a building that was set to be torn down in the London Docklands area in the 1980s.
In addition to the Earth-era ephemera are early publicity photos of the band as well as handwritten lyrics and a large number of postcards written by Ozzy Osbourne to his family (including Ozzy’s first wife Thelma Mayfair) while the band was out touring the world. And while I’m on the topic of the postcards from Ozz I took the liberty of transcribing one note Mr. Osbourne sent to his Mom and Dad from France that is so sweet it might hurt your teeth while reading it. Unless you’re reading this somewhere in France of course:
Dear Mom + Dad
Arrived here safely but IT IS NOT a very nice place, I don’t think that the people like long hair. We start playing tomorrow afternoon at 3-OCLOCK until 7-OCLOCK on the night. But apart from that I am still in one peace. By the way don’t forget we are on the radio next Saturday, I hope Iris and the baby are alright. I might phone Jean on my birthday. See soon.
Lots of Love, John xxxxxx
Awww. The heavy metal artifacts (that date from the years 1968-1973) are being presented as one lot which means everything in it goes to one buyer and is expected to fetch anywhere between $2500-$3800 bucks. Images of a few of items in the lot follow.
Earth-era show poster, late 60s.
Handwritten lyrics for ‘The Wizard’ that would appear on the Sabbath’s eponymous debut.
Handwritten lyrics from the ‘Earth’ era of Black Sabbath called ‘Changing Phases.’ The song would become ‘Solitude’ from Sabbath’s 1971 record, ‘Masters of Reality.’
Two postcards written by Ozzy to his parents while the band was off on tour. Awww.
It has been 26 years since Faith No More tore the roof off of the Brixton Academy in London on April 28th, 1990 during their tour in support of their third record, The Real Thing—the band’s first album with vocalist Mike Patton after FNM parted ways with former vocalist Chuck Mosely in 1988.
The show was released on both VHS and DVD called “Faith No More: You Fat B**tards: (Live at the Brixton Academy) and on vinyl as FNM’s only live album “Faith No More: Live at the Brixton Academy.” The band’s performance at Brixton is mind-meltingly energetic and the then 22-year-old Patton commanded the stage like a hyperactive kid who decided to mainline a dozen Pixy Stix just for fun. Which might help explain Patton’s wardrobe changes during the show that included a skeleton mask, a police helmet and the eventual loss of his shirt mid-way through the performance. As a die-hard fan of Black Sabbath it wasn’t hard for me to love FNM’s ferocious seven-minute cover of “War Pigs” which nearly gives the original a run for its money. It was also an opportunity for Patton to show off his prodigious six-octave range which he does with mind-altering precision. Get ready—the annihilation of your auditory functions await!
Faith No More performing a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ at the Brixton Academy in London, 1990.
Jutta Gusenberger and Norbert Berger were a married couple from the western border of the BRD (West Germany) who were staples of the German pop scene in the 1970s. They went by Cindy und Bert, representing West Germany in the Eurovision Pop Contest in 1974 with “Die Sommermelodie.” In a strong year that included Olivia Newton-John and ABBA as competitors, Cindy und Bert finished 14th. Oh well.
They had a run of charting singles from 1972 to 1979 on the German Top 40 but before all that, in 1971, they turned in a delirious cover of “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath with completely different German lyrics that were all about the hellhound invented by Arthur Conan Doyle in one of his few long-form Sherlock Holmes narratives, The Hound of the Baskervilles. More on the strange case of Cindy und Bert, after the jump…
The only person in the world who could rock a sweater vest with a print of a man with a top hat and monocle and still look as cool as fuck, Mr. Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath.
Now before anyone out there thinks for one second that I’m in any way slagging the heavy metal messiah of Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi, you’d be wrong. Only a fool would have anything but praise for a man who, after losing the tips of his middle and ring fingers on his right hand in an accident when he was seventeen, pressed on to become one of the most influential guitarists in the history. Couple that indisputable fact with the ass-kicking Iommi gave to The Big C—cancer—when it came calling, and you have Tony motherfucking Iommi—metal guitar god.
If you read Dangerous Minds on a regular basis, you probably already know that I’m a Black Sabbath super fan. Thanks to my folks, I played Sabbath’s second album, 1970’s Paranoid forwards and backwards (for those backmasked Satanic subliminal messages) until it would play no more. I look to that record as the reason for my delightful, nearly lifelong obsession with the band. As I’ve said in the past, any day that I get to write about Black Sabbath and get paid for it, is the best day ever. And today is another one of those great days!
Tony Iommi has always been about as metal as they come, and that’s especially true when you consider the look Iommi cultivated over the decades with Black Sabbath. You know, the leather biker jackets with fringe, the satin shirts, the gigantic cross necklaces and the ever present manly display of chest hair. And let’s not forget Iommi’s sweet patchwork jacket (which Iommi wore a lot during the Sabbath’s early days and which is currently on display at the Hard Rock Cafe in Berlin). That one garment could very well be responsible for the birth of the heavy metal fashion staple, the battle jacket.
As I often feel the need to scratch my nostalgic itches, I decided to flip through the Internet looking at photos from the band’s early days when I noticed that there seemed to be quite a few pictures of Iommi wearing of all things, sweaters. It didn’t take long for me to find quite a few images of Iommi rocking everything from a sweater vest to large-collared zip-up knitwear and even a turtleneck, which I found totally amusing given the fact that the look somewhat transforms Iommi into a mustachioed male model as featured in the pages of a vintage 70s Sears catalog. As you’re looking at the photos that follow, you’ll probably notice that Sabbath’s bassist, Geezer Butler was also a fan of quality 70s knitwear.
I’ve also included few images that postdate the fantastic 70s that I had to include because, well, sweaters.
More of Tony’s fab sweaters, turtlenecks and zip-up jumpers, after the jump…
Who’s your favorite candidate for the presidency? The one who plans to carpet bomb ISIS? The one who wants to murder the families of terrorists? Or the architect of our disastrous intervention in Libya, who once threatened to nuke Iran? Whose saber-rattling do you think demonstrates the blithest disregard for civilian lives?
While bellicose enough to reflect our leaders’ thirst for human blood, our current national anthem has a few deficiencies. No one can sing it, its melody is ripped straight from “To Anacreon in Heaven,” and it has a truly awful third verse that disses slaves.
One Shannon Madden of Birmingham, Alabama, has proposed an elegant solution: replace “The Star-Spangled Banner” with Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” This is an idea whose time has come. For starters, you can sing it. “Satan, laughing, spreads his wings” is a more realistic image of the aftermath of our merry adventures than “our flag was still there.” And though I seldom take in a game of sports, on those rare occasions when I do, I would rather lend my voice to an Iommi, Osbourne, Butler and Ward composition than a song by a slave-holding anti-abolitionist. Wouldn’t you?
The nice, church-going boys from Black Sabbath, early 70s
Back in 1970 when Black Sabbath was just starting to explode (the band had recently broken an attendance record set at the popular Birmingham venue Henry’s Blues House by Tony Iommi’s former band of about five seconds, Jethro Tull), they were also trying to shake the misconception that they were dabbling in “black magic” after changing their name from Earth.
In an interview with Melody Maker in July of 1970 with Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, journalist Mark Plummer inquired if the band was into the occult. To which Ward replied that not only had Black Sabbath never “practiced black magic” on stage, they were actually “anti-black magic.” In fact, according to Ward, the lyrics to the song “Black Sabbath” specifically denounce the infernal arts and “all its implications.”
Black magic? Never heard of it!
Ward’s sentiments were echoed by an (allegedly) stone-cold sober Ozzy Osbourne in an interview he gave later that same month to NME journalist Roy Carr. According to Ozz, not only were the occult rumors not true, Sabbath actually wanted to help “stamp out” black magic. The belief that the band was aligned with the dark forces was creating huge headaches for them. Especially, in of all places, Germany:
It’s got so bad that recently a German promoter who had booked us sent along return airfares for the group—and if need be a one-way ticket if we decided on using a sacrificial victim (on stage). The press has blown everything out of proportion. With our name Black Sabbath, people therefore assumed that this (black magic) was our scene. For some unknown reason, people seem to expect something out of the ordinary when we appear. We don’t need to have naked birds leaping all over the stage or try to conjure up the devil.
Nothing evil to see here, move along
Tony Iommi even went so far to speculate that the band might have to “change up some of their lyrics” to avoid “trouble” especially while they were in the U.S., where rumors of their alleged love of evil were running wild. Thankfully, that never happened and despite Ozzy’s concerns about naked birds and having no plans to conduct a Satanic sacrificial ritual on stage, Sabbath got to keep making records homaging sex, drugs and the supernatural. While Satan sits and smiles of course. Nice.
In 1969 while Black Sabbath was still sort of transitioning from their original name “Earth” (the band had booked gigs late into the summer of 1969 as “Earth,” and continued to billed as such for a few months), they recorded a few demos of songs written by fellow Birmingham musician, Norman Haines. Haines was the keyboard and organist in the Brummy band, Locomotive who scored a hit with their version of Dandy Livingstone’s ska-smash, “A Message To You Rudy”.
In August of 1969, and according to Tony Iommi in his book, My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath, the band stepped into the same studio that The Beatles recorded much of The White Album in during the summer of 1968, the opulent eight-track room at Trident Studios in Soho, London. Iommi had never set foot in a studio before and had no idea how to mic his own guitar properly. The band recorded “The Rebel” and then a couple of months later a second track that was also written by Haines, “When I Came Down” at Zella Studios, Birmingham in October of 1969 .
Acetate of “When I Came Down” an early Black Sabbath demo from 1969
Engineer Roger Bain, (who had at time had never worked with Sabbath, but would go on to produce the band’s next three records) tried to reduce the amount of distortion in the band’s sound which resulted in Iommi’s very metal response “Fucking leave it! It’s a part of our sound!” If you haven’t heard “The Rebel” before, prepare to have your mind blown as the rousing, anthemic track is devoid of Ozzy’s usual high-pitch vocals, but not without Iommi’s instantly recognizable, licky as fuck riffs. I’ve also included the very Sabbath-y sounding “When I Came Down” for your headbanging pleasure. “The Rebel” appears on Walpurgis - The Peel Session 1970, along with “Walpurgis,” “Fairies Wear Boots,” and “Behind The Wall of Sleep” that were recorded for a session on John Peel’s radio show in April of 1970.
Jen Ray’s paintings of “sparring Amazonian women who inhabit decaying, semi-surrealist and strangely beautiful wastelands” evoke the late ‘70s avant-post-psychedelic science fiction worlds one would associate with Heavy Metal (the magazine, not the music), but with a decidedly feminist bent—both in subject matter, and, some might argue, in form as well. Angry, jagged, “masculine” lines are filled in with soft, “feminine” washes of color—that is if colors and lines can even be described as “masculine” or “feminine” in the 21st century.
Untitled. 2007. (Detail)—Click on image for larger version.
Ray seems to delight in playing with gender stereotypes, and it’s all the more obvious in the exceptional performance pieces she constructs to augment her magnificent large-scale works of fine art.
North Carolina born, Ray was based out of Berlin for nearly a decade before recently returning to her home state. Her exhibitions of painting and performance have been presented in Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Wolfsburg, Paris, Copenhagen, Mexico City, Amersfoort (Netherlands), and most recently, at New York’s Albertz Benda gallery.
Ray’s newest exhibition, Deep Cuts, runs at Albertz Benda until November 7th. The presentation which accompanied the opening, directed by Ray, featured a performance by Honeychild Coleman and Amor Schumacher along with a chorus of women backing up détourned renditions of Public Enemy’s “Countdown to Armageddon” and The Guess Who’s “American Woman.”
In a world where the mere mention of the phrase “performance art” sends eyes rolling with assumptions of self-indulgent, pretentious, mess-making (and add the word “feminist” to that phrase and you’ll likely lose even more dudebro interest) it’s remarkable how entertaining, as well as conceptual and thought-provoking, Jen Ray’s productions are. It’s very nearly as populist as it is powerful in its approach.
Give it a couple of minutes to ramp up and stick with it till the end… this is killer:
The first of Jen Ray’s performance works that I viewed (and still my favorite) was Hits which takes Black Flag’s tongue-in-cheek 1987 macho party-anthem “Annihilate This Week” and turns it on its ass. My remark upon first viewing this piece was “this is more interesting than any (punk band’s) show I’ve been to in the past five years.” The sterile atmosphere of the gallery space and its attendees being invaded by singer “Mad Kate” out-Rollins-ing Rollins somehow makes the proceedings even more “punk.”