Sabbath, Sabbath Everywhere
After The Osbournes last night (highlighted by the spectacular boaking, as they say in Alan Warner novels, of Jack's bulldog) we saw some snippets of a show about Ozzy fanatics on MuchMoreMusic. The fans were a sad and deluded bunch. "I wanna thank Ozzy for inspiring me to become a tattoo artist." "I think if I got to hang out with Ozzy, we'd become best friends." "Ozzy's never ever let me down." And so on. The best bits of the show were the live clips of Ozzy with the reunited Sabbath. The footage was regrettably Ozzy-centric, though. I could see Geezer back there directing traffic, and I caught a glimpse of Bill Ward's bass drums once or twice, but otherwise it was all Ozzy all the time, interspersed with shots of ham-headed bully rockers down "in the pit."
That was okay, because I got a good dose of Sabbath on the weekend—gluesticking mauve polka dots to our bedroom wall to the strains of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. It was a testicle-retention gambit.
Those mid-period Sabbath albums used to daunt me as a kid. I didn't know anyone who was into that stuff. Acmac had Paranoid, which I borrowed and taped some choice cuts from. "Iron Man" and the title track—yes. "Rat Salad," hoo-boy! "Hand of Doom"? Nah. My infrequent friend Glenn had Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, but I never got to listen to it, and Glenn was well on his way to becoming a dirtbag anyhow. It just bolstered my suspicion that getting too deeply into Sabbath would cause one to plunge into waywardness and become Addicted to Drugs.
It's dangerous fucking music, that Volume 4/SBS/Sabotage trilogy. The process of understanding its genius would have taken too much of a toll on my teenage self. At 15 I was one short, sharp shock away from being put on life support (such was my lack of wherewithal and worldliness), so I think if I'd clicked with, say, "A National Acrobat" or "Megalomania" my sense of self-preservation would have stopped me from ever leaving my room again.
I can't say for sure, though. I could hack the likes of Close to the Edge, Brain Salad Surgery, and other musics clearly composed off-planet. The difference between that music and Sabbath, besides the fact that it's bleedin' poncy bollocks, lies in what Prof. Bill Martin identifies as prog rock's optimistic, utopian nature. That was me to a T back then. Sabbath is anything but utopian, and I realize now that that's what disturbed me about their music. Ozzy was wearing a "Kill Hippies" shirt last night, so the Sabbath ethos is alive and well!
I'm glad I was more or less a fully formed adult when I entered the church of Sabbath, which, incidentally, is located in the vicinity of Gilley and Patrick in South Burnaby. There I found guidance and solace as I peered into the Iommi-riffed abyss. I soon took sticks in hand and worked up to performing a credible version of "Cornucopia" with my benevolent mentors. Acting like Black Sabbath, it turns out, is lots of fun.