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Black Sabbath - 1976 Technical Ecstacy



ARTIST: Black Sabbath
ALBUM: Technical Ecstacy
LABEL: Vertigo/Warner Bros
SERIAL: 9124 100, BS 2969
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: Various reissues (1987 onwards)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Ozzy Osbourne - vocals * Tony Iommi - guitars * Geezer Butler - bass * Bill Ward - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Back Street Kids * 02 You Won't Change Me * 03 It's Alright * 04 Gypsy * 05 All Moving Parts (Stand Still) * 06 Rock And Roll Doctor * 07 She's Gone * 08 Dirty Women

WEBLINKS: www.black-sabbath.com


Background
'Technical Ecstacy' marked a turning point for Sabbath as they continued to move away from the heavy doom of the 1970-75 years and turned to a more traditional form of hard rock. In came songtitles like 'Gypsy', 'Rock and Roll Doctor' and 'Back Street Kids' which displeased those in favor of the older style. This for years has been the most overlooked Ozzy era Sabbath album, but time seems to be readdressing the balance, as this is now gaining the credibility it deserves as a classic. The band was showing signs of wear and tear from years of abuse and reportedly Ozzy wasn't happy with much of the material here, allegedly refusing to sing on 'It's Alright'. The riffs are solid however, and it was to that point Sabbath's most melodic outing, retaining all the heaviness one had come to expect from the legendary act.


The Songs
'Back Street Kids' is the perfect opener, galloping with intensity, true seventies metal and to my ears heavier than anything they had done up to that point. Keyboards are prominent in the mix and Iommi tears off an excellent solo. The older style wasn't totally forgotten, 'You Won't Change Me' proverbially doom laden with keyboards swirling around ominously. Very melodic, I cannot understand why this not more well known. 'It's Alright' sees Ward take vocals, and the result is a well worked ballad, heavy on piano. This wasn't Sabbath's first ballad, having recorded 'Changes' on 'Volume 4' in 1972. Ward claims Ozzy liked the song in a later interview, trying to clear up the long standing controversy. Sabbath followed Heep and Purple with their own 'Gypsy', a basic hard rocker which could almost have been a hit single with its hook. The epic 'All Moving Parts (Stand Still) is another classic, with some furious passages at the halfway point, the band in superb form, Ward in particular, smashing his kit in. Taking the new direction to its zenith is the near boogie of 'Rock and Roll Doctor', which recalls Purple with the piano work. Extremely heavy, 70's metal never sounded better. Utilising orchestral techniques and strings is 'She's Gone', another ballad and haunting some might say. 'Dirty Women' is the only track which Sabbath would feature in their sets from this album when Ozzy rejoined in the late 90's,easily living up to the heights of the other tracks and there are some pleasing melodic passages courtesy Iommi, especially an outstanding solo amidst some faster passages late on.


In Summary
This has always been my favourite Ozzy album with Sabbath, which is not to put down the benchmark early material, but this is eminently more listenable and not as heavy handed. It captures a perfect blend of Iommi's identifiable riffing with more upbeat melody lines and the subject matter was far more commercial. For years this and 'Never Say Die' were considered the bad apples of the Ozzy era, but they are both on par with anything preceding them. Sabbath's popularity did start to wane around this time, but it would be unfair to blame the music. 'Technical Ecstacy' is faultless and just as deserving of being included into those who claim Sabbath to be the inventors of metal as we know it. That argument is for another time and place.. preferably never again.


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Comments
#1 | jeffduran on July 09 2008 13:41:31
Best of the OZZY/SABBATH bar none! Great review Alun!score 10
#2 | jefflynnefan on July 10 2008 00:33:26
This is Black Sabbath's (with Ozzy) most commercial album if you will with songs like Rock n Roll Doctor, All Movings Parts and She's Gone. The song Dirty Women is probably my favorite here but all the songs are great. Does anybody know if the Castle remaster version is a improvement over the original USA cd release? Seems like Warners 70's stuff (analog) they release on CD is terrible in my opinion.
#3 | sabace on August 21 2012 08:49:35
hardly the best ozzy / sabbath when you have the likes of VOLUME IV, MASTER OF REALITY, PARANOID! I thought this was the end of a classic era! .
 
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