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Archive for the ‘Tony Iommi’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 27, 2019] Mac Sabbath

When I saw that Okilly Dokilly was opening for Mac Sabbath I had to check out who this band was.  They’ve been around for a few years and this was their “American Cheese Tour” (that’s a good one).

And so basically, they are a Black Sabbath cover band, but all of their lyrics are about McDonald’s and the fast food industry in general.  So that’s pretty funny.  But that’s not all.  They have taken this concept to an absurd length.   Each band member is costumed or wears makeup.  And the costumes are phenomenal–not cheap little handmade things, but remarkably detailed and well constructed heads and bodies.  The attention to detail is really impressive.

The band members are also completely anonymous, which is also pretty funny.   And that is why they have such great band names:

The lead singer is Ronald Osbourne.
The guitarist is Slayer MacCheeze
The bassist is Grimalice (the least impressive name, it’s Grimace with an Alice in Wonderland hat on, but his other name is brilliant: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butler.”)
On drums is Catburglar or Criss Cut Fries (he is dressed like the Hamburglar with Peter Criss Makeup).

I didn’t really think too much about the music before the show, I just wanted to see the stage show. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BLACK SABBATH-Master of Reality (1971).

This album seems to have directly inspired more bands than any other Sabbath record.  There’s the band Masters of Reality (who I’ve never heard) and there’s the 1,000 Homo DJ’s EP and blistering cover for “Supernaut.”

This is one of my favorite Sabbath discs, even though, or maybe because there aren’t as many hits on it.  The story goes that since Tony Iommi had his fingertips cut off (!) he had to downtune his guitar so the strings would be looser and therefore less painful to play.  As such, this disc introduces a sort of “classic” Sabbath sludgy sound.  But even though this album doesn’t get a the airplay of Paranoid any metal fan knows a few of these songs.  “Sweet Leaf,” for instance, is quite well known.  It also makes me laugh because it is so clearly pro-drug (after all those anti-drug songs on the first two discs).  And of course, it opens with that great echoing cough (which I now assume is from someone toking up).

“After Forever” is one of those great Sabbath songs where Geezer Butler’s bass fills stand out throughout the bridges.  It also features one of Tony Iommi’s strangely “happy” sounding opening chords  The song itself is pretty dark but the chords are so upbeat!  The song has a lyric that I found shocking as a kid: “would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope, do you think he’s a fool?”  And of course, the guitar solo flies wildly around your head from one speaker to the other.

“Embryo” is a strange middle eastern sounding 30 second instrumental that segues into the awesome “Children of the Grave.”  It’s one of those Sabbath songs that sounds menacing all the way through.  There’s a weird clicking sound in the verses that I assume is Geezer Butler’s de-tuned, incredibly loose bass strings slapping the fretboard.  And, of course, it ends with a wonderfully warped ghostly guitar feedback sounds and the whispered “Ch ch ch ch children.”

The second half of the disc is quite different from the first.  “Orchid” is a delightful 90 second acoustic guitar workout.  And it segues into “Lord of This World” a real rock and roll sounding song (featuring some great Ozzy screaming).  “Solitude” is like “Planet Caravan” from Paranoid, in that it’s a slow, trippy psychedelic sense (is it possible that Sabbath didn’t know that they were a metal band?).

Finally comes “Into the Void.”  This was one of the first songs I’d ever learned on guitar.  My guitar teacher liked the down-tuned low E string aspect of it, and I still enjoy playing it today.

As my friend Andrew pointed out the other day, John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats has written a 33 1/3 book about Master of Reality.  While I haven’t read it yet, Darnielle is pretty cool, so I assume it’s a great read if you like this disc.

[READ: November 30, 2009] “Loggerheads”

Not every David Sedaris piece is funny.  We know he’s not a comedian, per se, although he is certainly a humorous writer.  We also know that some Sedaris pieces are kind of disgusting.  He tends to delight in the grotesque.  However, in this piece he combines the disgusting with the non-humorous to create a very unsatisfying piece. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BLACK SABBATH-Paranoid (1970).

Black Sabbath’s second album is certainly their most famous.  I mean, it features “Iron Man,” the first song everyone learns to play on the guitar.

But the whole first side of the disc is pretty famous.  “War Pigs” is a wonderful anti-war song.  “Paranoid” was their first big hit, and I read recently that it was a last minute addition to the album.  And it’s really short, too!

The next track, “Planet Caravan” is, in context, insane.  It is an incredibly slow, meandering track.  Back in the day, we used to skip this track all the time.  But since then I’ve grown to appreciate this trippy psychedelic song.  It feels a bit long, especially when you want to rock out, but it’s still pretty interesting.

And then there’s “Iron Man,” and, well, there’s nothing much to say about it that hasn’t been said elsewhere.   Except of course that it rocks!

Side Two was pretty unlistened to before CDs made it all one side.  “Electric Funeral” is a major downer about nuclear war, but it has an amazing opening riff with a wonderfully wah-wahed guitar.  “Hand of Doom” begins slowly with what’s more or less just bass and vocals.  And then guitars blare forth like sirens leading to some cool heavy sections.  About half way through it turns into this fast rocking song and becomes yet another anti-drug song.  This anti-drug stance is rather surprising given what lies in store in the not too distant future.

“Rat Salad” is a short instrumental.  It’s one half extended guitar solo with the second half comprising a drum solo.  Despite that, the riff of the song is pretty awesome.  The final track is the wonderfully named “Jack the Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots.”  The opening is another cool riff with lots of drums that melds in to a wonderfully heavy, bad-assed song (“a fairy with boots dancing with a dwarf”).  It ends the album very well.

For a record that’s nearly 40 years old, it’s still remarkably heavy and it set a great standard for heavy metal.

[READ: November 29, 2009] “The Not-Dead and the Saved”

This was a sad story about a woman with a dying child.  The child is older (late teens) and he has been coping with this issue for all of his life.  Consequently, he is cynical and more than a little bitter.

It’s hard for me to be critical of the story seeing as how it won the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize.  However, I didn’t find the story all that compelling. I think it was the completely detached narrator (third person distant, I would say) or maybe it was something else. Whatever it was, I just couldn’t connect to it.

[UPDATE:  December 15, 2009.  The story also just won the National Short Story Award.  Maybe I need to re-read it]. (more…)

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harpersdecSOUNDTRACKROLLING STONES-Rock and Roll Circus [DVD] (1968).

stonesProbably the most interesting thing about this DVD was seeing Tony Iommi, future guitarist for Black Sabbath playing guitar for Jethro Tull!  Let me repeat: the guy who played “Iron Man” was playing on a song with a flute solo!

Okay, with that out of the way, I’ll talk about the DVD.

The idea behind this event was to promote music in a new way, and the idea of a circus makes sense, so why not.  Wikipedia gives a pretty lengthy explanation of the whole thing, so I won’t bother with all of the details.

Anyhow, I had heard about this DVD in context of The Who.  I had read that The Who totally blew away the Stones at this event (apparently Mick Jagger agreed, which is why this was not available until 1996). Much of the Who’s performance is available in The Kids Are Alright movie.

But now with this DVD available, we get to see all of the acts in the circus:

Jethro Tull-“Song for Jeffrey.” Evidently they mimed their performance, but it’s still Tony Iommi.

The Who-“A Quick One While He’s Away.” Just amazing.  Fantastic rollicking, amazing.  It’s a crazy song, and it’s so full of energy.  Yes, they blow everyone else off the stage.

Taj Mahal, a band I’m not familiar with, plays “Ain’t That a Lot of Love.”

Marianne Faithfull sings a surprisingly quiet rendition of “Something Better.”  Her trademark voice hasn’t quite developed yet.

The Dirty Mac, who are John Lennon (vocals & rhythm guitar), Keith Richards (bass),  Eric Clapton (lead guitar) & Mitch Mitchell (drums).  They perform the Beatles song “Yer Blues” and then a jam called “Whole Lotta Yoko” which features Yoko Ono doing what she does best…caterwauling for what seems like much longer than 4 and a half minutes).

Then the Rolling Stones come out.  The story is that they had been up playing for hours, and their set was finally recorded at 5AM.  Whether or not that’s true, the set is really lackluster.  I’m not a huge Stones fan, but I do love many of their songs.  In fact, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Sympathy for the Devil” are two of my all time favorite songs.  Sadly, the versions on this DVD are totally substandard, especially compared to the originals.  Even “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” a song that I don’t particularly love but which has a great opening riff sounds tired.  I don’t know if it’s the amps, the sound board, or if they’re just really tired, but the set just doesn’t have it.

So, yeah, there’s not much to see with this disc.  You do get Brian Jones jamming with the Stones.  And of course, “A Quick One” is great.  It’s also cool to see Tony Iommi, but since he’s not actually playing, it’s not that exciting.  And, in fairness, Mick Jagger is a very good host, and he keeps his spirits and excitement level up pretty high throughout the show, especially when goofing around with John Lennon and the fans.

As a curiosity, this DVD was okay…I actually enjoyed the talking bits in between songs rather than the songs themselves.

[READ: March 25, 2009] “White-Bread Jesus”

It has taken me a very long time to read this story.  I had been putting it off because it was kind of long.  Then I started it and put it aside, and then finally I read most of it but didn’t have a chance to finish it.  I found it again today under a pile of magazines and decided it was time to finish it up.  None of that reflects on the story, though, honestly.

I was very intrigued by the story right from the get-go.  In it, a preacher (Reverend Wesley Edwards) who is losing his faith, and really his mind, has something of a breakdown in church.  He begins a dialogue with Jesus in which Jesus admits that the Bible is nonsense, and that he, Wesley, is really a prophet. (more…)

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