Rescued from VHS: Black Sabbath released ‘Paranoid’ 43 years ago today

On Jan. 7, 1971 Black Sabbath released one of their most legendary albums. It was originally titled “War Pigs,” after the epic song of the same name, but the record label reportedly thought the title might seem like they were taking too much of a stance on the Vietnam war, so they named it after another tune amongst the collection, “Paranoid.” It’s worth noting that bassist Geezer Butler shared with Metro last summer that singer Ozzy Osbourne initially didn’t know the meaning of the word that they chose as their album title.

The concert embedded here comes from a live performance in Paris in December of 1970, just a few weeks before the release of “Paranoid.” For the first two minutes we see the band acting alternately very professional (guitarist Tony Iommi polishing his guitar) and like total goofballs (drummer Bill Ward pantomiming a drum-fill). But the band is in real fighting shape, performance-wise, and it’s interesting to see young and skinny open-shirted Ozzy almost acting insecure, as he keeps looking back at the band. He wears his eagerness on his sleeve as he shouts into the mic in between songs. Yes, he sings about how the victims in “Iron Man” are “running just as fast as they can” to get away from the title character, but Ozzy speaks just as fast as he can when he says, “Thank you, good evening we’re Black Sabbath, thank you!”

It’s also amazing how iconic the rest of the Sabbath members look. Geezer and Ward look almost like identical twins in their long dark hair and mustaches and Iommi looks like their disagreeable older brother. They almost seem like they could have been the basis for a Saturday morning cartoon. Imagine that?! Actually, you don’t have to: Robert Smigel already did!


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