Black Sabbath shared a manager with an explicitly Satanic band called Black Widow, and some people had a hard time keeping the two straight, or pretended they did. Nick Tosches’ crazed review of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid mixed up Ozzy and Black Widow’s singer Kip Trevor, who does not, in fact, sound like “Keith Relf whining about the tampons stuck up his nostrils.”
I mention this because I’d never heard of Vincent Price’s nearly 90-minute-long occult crash course Witchcraft-Magic: An Adventure In Demonology before I read an interview with Black Widow’s Clive Jones in the book Black Sabbath FAQ. Talking about the popularity of horror movies in the late 60s, Jones went on a tangent about his relationship with Price:
Vincent Price gave me… because he was on CBS, whenever he released an album, he gave me an album, which I still use to this day, of him talking about black magic and the war, and how black magic was used for good causes, as well as worshiping the devil type stuff.
As soon as I read those words, I made haste to Discogs to track this sucker down. Look, I don’t know what your idea of a good time is, but when it is the witching hour, and the autumnal equinox, and everyone is making ready for the festival of Samhain, and like that, fun for me means settling down with a hot mug of tannis root tea and an hour and a half of Vincent Price talking demonology, accompanied by spooky sounds from a 1969 synthesizer. From the bewitching intro:
Do you believe in witches and magic? [Chuckles] I hope so, because it can be unwise not to. Do you believe in life after death? Do you believe in luck? Do you believe in premonitions—being somewhere where you know you’ve been before, although you know you’ve never been there? Do you believe in dreams and the unseen forces of astrology? Do you believe that there is order and genius in the hundred thousand million galaxies similar to our own? Do you believe that the life of our bodies is the beginning and end, or do you believe in reincarnation? Perhaps in heaven and in hell? Do you believe in prophecy and poltergeists? Heh? Do you?
Yes, you see, the universe is populated with spirits: unseen forces which permeate all things, both tangible and intangible, both visible and invisible. Things we see and things we don’t, things we know or think we know and things we know nothing of: the natural and the supernatural. So come with me into the magic world of the supernatural—the world of witches and demons, warlocks and sorcerers, oracles and seers, alchemists and wizards—into the unfathomable world of the unknown, the world of the spirits and unseen forces that guide our destiny. They are everywhere. Let’s turn down the lights and throw another log on the fire.
Original pressings of Witchcraft-Magic apparently included a booklet called (gulp) “The Hand of Glory,” and one wonders who put so much research and care into this set. The album’s script, which traces the history of witchcraft through the Bible, the Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, and Nazi Germany before turning to practical instruction in the dark arts (see side three, track three, “How to Make a Pact with the Devil”), is the work of a mysterious figure named Terry d’Oberoff, whose only other credit appears on the 1970 debut of an LA soul group called—wait for it—Black Magic.
Below, hear a needle drop of the whole double LP. If you’d like to hear more wailing of damned souls and less surface noise, Amazon has it on MP3 for $4.99.