Black Sabbath - Paranoid (1970)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 5:21 AM

After the release of their eponymous debut album in February 1970, Black Sabbath returned to the studio in June that year, again with producer Rodger Bain, to record their second album. The album was recorded at Regent Sound Studios and Island Studios in London, England. The album's eponymous single "Paranoid" was written in the studio at the last minute.

As drummer Bill Ward explains: "We didn't have enough songs for the album, and Tony just played the "Paranoid" guitar lick and that was it. It took twenty, twenty-five minutes from top to bottom." The song was written with no intention of it being a successful hit for the band, only to be a filler on the album.
In comparison with their previous album, the songs on Paranoid were given more focus and direction, with less improvisation. However the lyrical content is equally as dark, exploring themes such as war, mental illness, drug abuse and sci-fi horror. Much of the album could be viewed as a kind of social commentary. Spin magazine wrote that the band "saw heavy rock as a way to emulate the horrors of a fallen world."

The lyrics of the opening song, "War Pigs", discuss war and the absurdities of those who make war without regard for those forced to fight it. It is often viewed as a protest song. Similarly, the lyrics of "Electric Funeral" discuss the horrific aftermath of nuclear warfare. These songs were written in the midst of the Vietnam War and the Cold War, and could be seen as quite representative of the political situation at the time.

The song "Paranoid" is uncharacteristically fast and simplistic for Black Sabbath in their early days. Supposedly the band members intended it only as an interlude or as "filler". Its lyrics concern the stigma of mental illness. In a related way, "Iron Man" is about a time traveller from the future who has been turned to steel. He is outcast by society but eventually takes his revenge on humanity. It is also a reference to Vietnam war veterans, who upon returning from war were outcast by society and had no help re-integrating into normal life or dealing with their post war mental disorders.[citation needed]

The song "Iron Man" is thematically very similar to the Ted Hughes novel, The Iron Man. This book was made into an animated film which was called The Iron Giant.

Three songs on the album appear to concern dreams, hallucinations and drug use. "Planet Caravan" and "Fairies Wear Boots" are quite psychedelic in style and their lyrics are quite abstract.

"Hand of Doom" was written as a message against heroin use (holes are in your skin, caused by deadly pin). The song transitions between slow, soft passages and fast, loud passages as a representation of the drug being injected.
1.War Pigs (7:55)
2.Paranoid (2:47)
3.Planet Caravan (4:24)
4.Iron Man (5:53)
5.Electric Funeral (4:47)
6.Hand of Doom (7:07)
7.Rat Salad (2:29)
8.Fairies Wear Boots (6:14)

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