Thursday, October 13, 2016

Supertzar: Black Sabbath as Both Comfort Food and Friend

Black Sabbath's Supertzar is an instrumental on their Sabotage album. I was probably 14 when I first heard it and it sounded like something on Lawrence Welk's show. It was really dark and weirdly triumphant.

Sabotage was one of the first Black Sabbath albums I bought. The image on the album cover was completely washed out but I got it because it was like $8 on CD compared with its $15 cleaner looking alternative.

I later found out the reason for that. Black Sabbath had signed one of the worst record contracts imaginable and that allowed their management to issue cheaper versions with a mixed up track order that sounded really bad. I was used to the album ending with Am I Going Insane (Radio) but, truthfully, The Writ was the last track. I later realized that if a Black Sabbath album was released under the "Dorchester Holding" that it was bogus and probably didn't help Tony Iommi pay the Tony Martins of the world who got Rockstar'd into singing for the world's best band remembered for their worst singles.

My best friend and neighbor at the time was really into bodybuilding and competed while we were still freshmen in high school. He needed music and the music we listened to together was really weird (The Iron Eagle soundtrack, Life of Agony, and Garth Brooks were interchangeable). I suggested he use Supertzar and, even though he didn't use it and most likely doesn't remember it, I still think Supertzar was the perfect choice for expressing Wagnerian grandeur.

When I get bummed out, I listen to Black Sabbath. In the last few years its been back and forth between Volume 4 and Master of Reality but, truthfully, any of those first eight albums are a comfort.

Whatever they stumbled into from 1970 to 1978, I'm grateful. They apparently didn't realize that they made some of the world's most special music over the course of eight long playing records (Live at Last doesn't count among their album releases but should). Over the years they've consistently avoided the best songs for live shows and some of the best stuff that they do play are played wrong, as though they were a bad metal band.

Black Sabbath is not a metal band. They were a mediocre jazz and blues band who had to turn up loud so the audiences couldn't ignore them and translated meandering jams into something total and absolute.

There are plenty of books that are meant to teach you how to be rich and successful but they don't always get it. There's some kinds of genius that are just stumbled into. Black Sabbath stumbled better than anyone.

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