Eagle Rock Entertainment // 2010 // 54 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Carlton (Retired) // June 30th, 2010
"They created a genre."
Forty years after its release, Paranoid is regarded as one of the most influential albums in rock 'n' roll. Black Sabbath: Paranoid provides an in-depth look at the creation of that highly regarded album. With interviews and track by track analysis, fans of the band are sure to be pleased.
The newest in the Classic Albums series from Eagle Rock is Black Sabbath: Paranoid, the band's second album released in 1970. Timing in at 54 minutes (not counting special features), this made-for-TV documentary is geared more toward fans than the innocent bystander. As a fan of Sabbath, I enjoyed this considerably. The program consists of live footage as well as interviews with the four original band members and various people associated with the band during the time of its release.
The first fourteen minutes gives a short history of Sabbath leading up to this album and thankfully, the original members of the band (Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, Tony Iommi) are all still around to explain the group's origins. They talk a bit about how the band came together and though they were originally called "Earth," they changed the name thanks to a suggestion by Geezer, who was delving into the occult at the time. Band members, former managers, and record executives recall how the first album did extremely well and how surprised everyone was with its success. Where most albums have unsold copies returned to the factory, Black Sabbath's records continually sold printing after printing.
The remaining time of Black Sabbath: Paranoid is spent on the album itself; detailing each of the album's eight songs and their unique tone. Paranoid was released during a time in which the airwaves were flooded with touchy-feely, flower-power songs, but Black Sabbath was more in step with the negative feelings of the world, partly rooted in the Vietnam War. Instead of songs about love and happiness, the material speaks to everything from the world's impending doom ("Iron Man") to Ozzy's distaste for skinheads ("Fairies Wear Boots"). This struck a chord with the public, but the album was universally panned by critics, making them look foolish for being so "out of tune with what the kids loved."
Black Sabbath invented a pre-metal genre that changed rock music forevermore. Music historians comment on Paranoid's impact and the captivating nature of Sabbath's sound. Tom Allom, the sound engineer who worked on Paranoid, takes us into the studio, isolating individual tracks and providing examples of their uniqueness. He even plays alternate takes on the title track, with different lyrics by Ozzy. It was particularly interesting to hear individual guitar, drum, and bass lines isolated from the original recordings.
As far as extras on Black Sabbath: Paranoid, we get 42 minutes of scenes not shown in the original broadcast, some of which were particularly interesting. Band members recollect other bands and artists who influenced their music, such as The Beatles, not so much in the writing, but in the way they did things. Like their heroes, Black Sabbath made it a point not repeat themselves, and in doing so kept things fresh. Among the deleted scenes is a demonstration by Bill Ward playing through some sections, but the highlight was the band's recollection of their first U.S. tour; something they were completely unprepared for.
Eagle Rock's 1080i Blu-ray provides a crisp picture; quality varying with the state of its the source material. All recent interviews are sharp and detailed, while some of the archival footage naturally isn't. The audio is a modest two channel LPCM soundtrack, but surprisingly clear and well balanced. I would have expected a DTS or Dolby 5.1 track for a music-based disc, but what we're given does sound exceptionally good. No real complaints there.
For a retail price of $19.99, fans should be happy with the presentation and bonus features on Black Sabbath: Paranoid. It could have used a bit more archival footage, but overall, the disc was well worth the viewing time.
Found not guilty, by a jury of their rock peers!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 54 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Black Sabbath Online