Sunday Spins: Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”

Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” was my first ever vinyl purchase. Before I even knew I would go on to inherit my mother’s vintage record player, I knew I would eventually own one. While camping near Sisters, Ore., a few years ago, my parents and I stopped in the many antique shops in the small Central Oregon town. One of the shops had various, old records laid throughout the store. That’s when “Paranoid” caught my eye – and for only $7.

Though I grew up glued to the sounds of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, I was somewhat familiar with Black Sabbath and understood that they were from the same era – so I figured I’d probably like the record. I have since grown to appreciate the cornerstone of metal that Black Sabbath created.

The foursome started their illustrious career in 1969 in England with occult themes, horror-inspired lyrics and down-tuned guitars. Black Sabbath started out as a blues band called the Polka Tulk Blues Band, which went on to morph into other variations of the name and group. While touring, they continued to get confused for another band with the same name (at the time called Earth) and opted for yet another name change. Across the street, fans had lined up at the cinema to see the 1963 film “Black Sabbath.” Fascinated by the idea that people are innately drawn to horror as well as a dream bassist Geezer Butler had of a dark shadow standing at the end of his bed, the band decided to write a song with the same title. They then eventually went on to name their band just the same and made their way toward the darker side, in spite of a time in music inspired by flower power and hippie culture.

Black Sabbath released their first and self-titled album in 1970, which went on to get mainstream attention in the UK. Just four months later, the band returned to the studio to record “Paranoid.” The album’s lead off single was written last minute with just 25 minutes left of studio time – a filler to make the album complete. To this day, the single is Black Sabbath’s only top ten hit.

“Paranoid” is certainly the album that catapulted me into the discography of the band, though I never really enjoyed the music without Ozzy’s whaling voice. In my opinion, every song on there is a hit, but it’s “Planet Caravan” that really stood out to me. Probably because it’s so unexpected of the hard-ripping group, and it really breaks down Ozzy’s voice.

Looking back, it was only right that “Paranoid” was my first vinyl purchase. And the rest is history.

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