Review Summary: The humble beginnings of a Rock ‘n’ Roll juggernaut.
It was just a few days before Sabbath’s new album would become available online, when I discovered these very early recordings. Dating back to 1969, these songs were recorded during a transitional period when the band’s name was still Earth. So, for all of you who are interested in Sabbath’s backstory, this offer is intriguing to say the least.
Regarding these early recordings, Tony Iommi said:
We didn't write those songs. They were written by a chap named Norman Haines. At the time we were managed by Jim Simpson, who was a local Birmingham guy. He insisted that we record these songs. We just wanted to play, so we recorded them. We wanted to write our own songs and make our own record, but this was just an initial effort. We had never been in a recording studio in our lives before that
So these demos are indeed Black Sabbath’s baby steps. Their very first attempt at becoming a studio band. Seeing that this work is not a result from a band who has set their goals, do not expect the doomy ‘n’ gloomy kind of music that followed just a few months later. Even if there are some foreshadowing elements, the overall feeling is that you’re listening to a typical 60’s British Rock band. The recordings sound happy, naïve and really cheesy for a band that, only a few months later, forged the noisy and loud Heavy Metal genre.
Apart from Tony Iommi, who’s lead guitar playing really steals the spotlight, Butler and Ward seem to be confined. Ozzy’s voice is surprisingly good in these demos. His signature off key-wails were unwoven at the time. The twenty one year old Iommi acts like a leader. The fluidity of his playing doesn’t surprise me at all as he was an active guitarist since 1963-1964, playing with local bands in various pubs and clubs around his neighborhood. Sure, he wasn’t an accomplished musician yet, but he was an experienced guitar player already. His bluesy, imaginative solos are not that different from what you hear on the first Sabbath record.
To summarise, these demos are nothing more than a low budget attempt by a bunch of kids trying to exploit their first studio opportunity, disclose their potential and enjoy themselves at the same time. Little did they know for what fate had in store for them. Unbeknownst to them at the time, they would shake the very foundations of Rock music like no other band had done before.