OK, I’ve played fair. I went back a righted the wrongs that could have been perceived if this had just been a week of songs from ’70 to ’78. We’ve honoured the fallen. Now let’s get back to business. The final track from Master Of Reality. Perhaps the most Sabbathy of all Sabbath album. That riff is allowed to roll around slow and smoky for a minute and a quarter before the chugga chugga change takes us into a GZR sci-fi tale of rocket ships and hateful battles.
Look only a tiny bit closer and the allegory is pretty clear. Like much 70’s science fiction this track is a warning about pollution, messing up the planet and destroying the one home we have in the name of something we didn’t all sign up for. Just like the magnificently influential Silent Running went on to inform Star Wars that little buckety biped robots were a hit in space movies. Into The Void let a generation of metal bands go slow, then fast for a bit, then s.l.o.w again. What they were both trying to tell us 50 years ago was ‘Stop fucking everything up! We can’t just clear off to another planet when we’ve ruined this one’. Did we listen? (sad-beep)
When Sabbath made their ‘Ozzy’s Back’ album with Rick Rubin in 2012. The better than anyone could have expected 10 track affair entitled 13, the one track from it to have made this list already reads kind of like a campfire retelling of Into The Void. It’s all acoustic lament and ‘astral engines in reverse, falling through the universe’. Zeitgeist really is a curve ball of quality from a band over 40 years from their debut record.
That’s the thing about rock bands now they have been around this long. We know what we expect from them. We also know they were the inventors of much of our popular culture today. It’s true to say that back then the long hairs lounging around listening to Sweet Leaf and Snowblind were seen as ner’do wells who would not amount to anything. In 2020 you can wear a Sabbath T-shirt to a board meeting (I know you can, I’ve tried it). Yesterday’s weirdo’s are tomorrow’s leaders. How sweet is that?
Hyde Park 4th July 2014 was the date I got to be the best uncle in the world. My teenage nephew Jim was getting into guitar music at the time. When he used to come and help out at the farm he’d ask to borrow CD’s. He liked Green Day and My Chemical Romance and Guns N’ Roses before I got to influence him. Of course if he liked Green Day, it figures I should introduce him to The Clash. My Chemical Romance? Try Iron Maiden. Guns N’ Roses? OK check out Aerosmith and Motörhead and The Stones and and and and.
He found Pearl Jam on his own and Nirvana so I thought I should set him up with some Soundgarden and Faith No More. He loved it. So I lent him some Sabbath. A best of. Told him he could keep it. By the time we’d had him coming to help out every Saturday for two years he had his own guitar, a decent line in band T-Shirts and a record player at home.
Then this amazing gig was announced for the tour around 13. At Hyde Park.
Faith No More
Now that’s a day out. That’s a show I could not miss. What I wondered for the first time ever was ‘Did Jim want to come along?’ I didn’t want Jim’s first gig to be some dreadful half arsed affair so I tapped up a mate for golden circle bands for the two of us (something I rarely do as I believe in paying for my music) and went to help convince my very protective sister in law that this was a good idea. I swore down he would not get into any trouble with his sensible uncle looking after him. I’d seen Sabbath the summer before at Download. And seen Ozzy many times. The crowds were all lovely. Like one big happy family. He’d be fine.
So off we went. Two excited cheeky fellas on a train to Mayfair to see some serious heavy metal. There was hot topic debate on the train. What would they play? Who liked the new stuff? Would Bill make an appearance? Even for one song? It felt like the trip to Wembley at the start of the 90’s to see Ozzy all over again. I saw the day through his eyes.
Each band were fantastic, except we only saw the very end of Soulfly as the queues were huge to get in. And well, Motörhead were not quite at their best. We all knew Lemmy had been really ill so it was no surprise he was a little out of puff. He had a guest vocalist help him through some of the set and he mixed a couple of lyrics up with other songs… But we got to see Motörhead. Some guy in the crowd near us yelled out at one point ‘You don’t owe us anything Lem’ and that seemed to fit the mood. A couple of years previous this whole show would have seemed impossible with Tony’s diagnosis as bleak as it was.
Faith No More were magnificent. Soundgarden made the show really special by playing Superunkown all the way through. On the 4th Of July.
Then came Sabbath. We knew they’d open with War Pigs. They had to. They always opened with War Pigs. but what was next? Well. A Sabbath show is the only show I know where the crowd sings the riffs not the lyrics. And Into The Void we went…