Review by Vinny for Black Sabbath - Paranoid (1970)
Only a handful of bands achieve what I usually term to be "golden runs". This means essentially that for series of albums a band doesn't put a foot wrong and with subsequent release in the run the band improve upon or further cement the quality exhibited to that point in their discography. For me it is a term limited to the likes of Metallica and their first four albums or Sepultura for their opening four offerings also.
Fact is that Black Sabbath for their first six albums were untouchable in my book. Each release just increased their stature and reputation in the music realm, steadily progressing the band to household names with each full length that dropped. Coming off the back of the debut, Paranoid is of major importance in the development of Black Sabbath as it really served to take all the best bits of the debut and morph them into actual hits. The title track, War Pigs and Iron Man all became firm fan favourites almost immediately and to this day are some of the most commonly named tracks discussed amongst die hard fans or some of the more mainstream types who occasionally like a bit of the heavy stuff.
As well as the aforementioned, perhaps too obvious tracks to reference, there's the hazy psychedelia of Planet Caravan to really mix things up. Iommi's heavy, blues-laden strings adding a dark richness to the ethereal vocals of Osbourne and the subtle work of Ward on the congas. Tony also provides some flute on this track for a bit of boundary pushing shits 'n giggles like! Let's not forget the parasitical catchiness of Electric Funeral nor the huge riffage of Hand of Doom either when we describe high points on this record.
The only real downside of the record is the bizarre artwork. Yes, I know the story of how it was designed around the original title of War Pigs but fuck me it's terrible, even by 1970s standards. Thankfully, all the hours I lost not being able to gaze loving at the record sleeve were more than given back to me by the quality of the product inside that sleeve. Desert island disc right here folks!