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Black Sabbath "Paranoid" the album that made Black Sabbath a Superstar Band

Updated on November 10, 2017

An image of the CD Paranoid

Track Listing for Black Sabbath’s Paranoid Album

  1. War Pigs
  2. Paranoid
  3. Planet Caravan
  4. Iron Man
  5. Electric Funeral
  6. Hand of Doom
  7. Rat Salad
  8. Fairies Wear Boots

The significance of the album Paranoid

Paranoid is the 2nd full-length album by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath released in 1970. I would make the case that this is the album that made Black Sabbath a superstar band. This was also the first Black Sabbath album that this writer heard in his life back in 1995. Paranoid’s musical style is a mixture of heavy metal and blues rock and these guys under the creativity and skill of guitarist Tony Iommi do a great job! His blues style soloing is evident here in this song. We have to look at the year 1970 and try to put it in historical context of the genre. Heavy metal in 1970 was still a very young genre as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest were two of the earliest bands. Black Sabbath had its beginnings going as far back as 1966 and they would be an influence for bands such as Metallica. Paranoid would reach the #1 position in the UK and the Netherlands. It would also do very well in Germany, reaching the 2nd spot. This is really impressive for a band that was at the time just 4 years old. The album cover is also symbolic. It shows a warrior with a sword in his hand ready to go after his prey. The picture shows that in life, we will be subject to many forces, some good and some evil.

The songs War Pigs, Paranoid, Planet Caravan, and Iron Man

The song War Pigs starts out slow with the singing of Ozzy Osbourne. Even though Osbourne is not really considered an elite heavy metal singer, I can understand what he is saying pretty much. The generals are gathered in their positions and they are ready to instruct their soldiers to go out into battle. But as is the case with war, there is much death and destruction. It is the politicians that make the decision to send their countries out to war as the general population suffers. At the end of the battle when the bodies are left scarring, the thought is that it is only a matter of time before GOD puts his judgement on humanity. Those that commit evil acts will be subject to karma and those of us that choose to do good for the planet will be rewarded. Then comes another one of Black Sabbath’s most famous songs, the title track Paranoid. The original version is a slow song about someone who is slowly losing his passion and love for life. One of the classic lines from the song is “can you help me? Are you from my brain? Oh yeah.” The solo is mixed in with some distorted guitar to give it an interesting feel. The person described in the song cannot feel happiness anymore and love to him is an unreal feeling. Although he wants to end his life, in a way he also knows that it is too late for him to do so. The song has been covered by Megadeth in their EP called Hidden Treasures in 1995. I like that version much more because it is heavier, faster, and Dave Mustaine’s aggressive voice makes it a classic cover! Planet Caravan is another well-known song by Black Sabbath that is totally atmospheric in nature. Iron Man is another classic song that starts out with some robotic style distorted vocals.

The song Paranoid (original version)

A photo of the band Black Sabbath in 1970

A photo of Black Sabbath from 1970. From left to right are: Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, and Ozzy Osbourne.
A photo of Black Sabbath from 1970. From left to right are: Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, and Ozzy Osbourne. | Source

The Songs Electric Funeral and Hand of Doom a Classic Black Sabbath Song

Electric Funeral has a man riff which Sacred Reich would be influenced by for their 1993 album Independent. The end of the song Crawling sounds very similar to this if you will remember. The song speeds up a bit and you can hear the bass lines played by Geezer Butler. The song is about a disaster that is about to effect the life on the Earth and that people should be prepared for what is about to come. If we really think about it, when the song came out, the US was only a few years removed from its verbal confrontation with the Soviet Union over nuclear weapons. From about the end of World War 2 until about the 1980’s, the tension was very noticeable as many people were living in fear and there was a very real possibility of nuclear war. Hand of Doom is this writer’s favorite song from the album. The song starts with a catchy, yet interesting bass line and then makes the transition into an awesome, catchy blues style song! The song also makes reference to the fact that although you may be having a good time, you must make sure that you do not overwhelm your mind with too many things. If we live life too fast, it may just go by too quickly and we may miss out on what life has to offer. We must live but not rush through life.

The song called War Pigs

Rat Salad and Fairies Wear Boots End a Great Album

Rat Salad is just a short instrumental with drumming, bass, and guitar work that makes you realize that this is just a blues style song. However, it is easy to confuse this song with the song Word Salad by the band Annihilator. Rat Salad also has a drum solo in the song. Paranoid ends with the song Fairies Wear Boots. The song is a humorous attempt to describe a person that went out late at night partying to be surprised what he saw when he looked out the window.

Favorite song on the album Paranoid

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Final Thoughts on the album Paranoid

Overall, Paranoid is one of the best albums in the history of heavy metal and it is very well the best moment that Ozzy had with the band prior to his departure in 1978. There is little that is wrong with this album and one of the most legendary bands in heavy metal would only get better into the early 1980’s. Paranoid is an album that covered themes which were very common at the time and this may help to raise awareness that the issues of war, depression, and anxiety are still very prevalent even in 2017.

The song Electric Funeral

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The song Hand of Doom (best one in the album)

© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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