THAT DIFFICULT SECOND ALBUM

A little preamble: whilst browsing the Half Man Half Biscuit Lyrics Project (chrisrand.com/hmhb) I stumbled across a website/blogsite called Ruth and Martin’s Album Club (ramalbumclub.com click on it, it’s a damn fine site) and they featured the album ‘Radiator’ by the Super Furry Animals . Now I love this album, for me it’s probably one of the band’s strongest and one of my favourite 2nd albums ever made. And this got me thinking, there are a lot of albums I like that were the bands or artists second full album, so why not feature them in a post? So here it is: my first, hopefully of many, features about a band’s second album (hence the title). Now these will feature albums that I own or did own at one time; some will be good, some not so good; there will be a hell of a lot of hard rock/heavy metal featured but I will feature other non-metal acts and anything else that tickles my fancy (and my fancy does love to be tickled!) The albums featured will be the bands officially listed second studio album; eps, live albums etc will not be considered, and as I’m originally from the UK I’ll be dealing with the bands officially released second album in the UK (it will become clear when we get to some international acts)  So let’s tackle those albums.

What’s the album today?

‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath 1970

This wasn’t the first Black Sabbath album I owned, that pleasure goes to ‘Vol.4’ but after buying the 2 RJD-era Sabbath albums, ‘Paranoid’ along with ‘Master Of Reality’ were quickly snapped up.

Is it any good?

Oh hell, yes! Heavy metal, hell heavy music redefined. Opening with the near-eight minute ‘War Pigs’ and closing with ‘Fairies Wear Boots’  you are bombarded for 42 minutes with skull crushing riffs courtesy of Tony Iommi, without whom heavy metal  (and in particular doom metal) as we know would not exist, lyrics about death, war, hate, drugs, sci-fi themes, you know the usual metal template, blistering guitar solos and some of the most chest-rattling bass riffs and intelligent pounding drumming you ever hear.

Is it better than the debut?

It’s a lot less ‘doom-y’ sounding than the debut and there are more ideas and styles on here than the debut but both albums are very, very strong records. So, yes it’s ‘better’ than the debut but the debut album is no slouch either.

Any good tracks?

Put the record on, let the needle drop and take your pick! From the majestic opening of ‘War Pigs’, the doom-laden ‘Iron Man’, the creepy, jazzy-metal of ‘Hand of Doom’, the tripped out, mellow jazz of ‘Planet Caravan’ to the frantic buzz of the title track, there is just so many good songs on here and some that are still featured in the live set 40+ years after it’s release.

Any bad tracks?

Personal Opinion Alert: For me, ‘Paranoid’ was the first Sabbath song I heard back in the 70’s and I do feel it gets a little over played at times, enough to make me not really want to hear it for a while. And other than the drum solo in ‘Rat Salad’, I can’t find any bad tracks on here. (Don’t worry readers, there will be albums featured later on in this series that will have some very bad tracks)

Any drum solos on this record?

One: ‘Rat Salad’. Now, I’ve mentioned this before but I hate drum solos. In concerts they are great because I know that I can go to the bathroom for a piss or to the bar for a beer (or, if I go to certain venues, a pint of weak piss masquerading as beer- I’m looking at you Carling venues!) and I’m not going to miss much on stage. However I cannot find any excuse to record a drum solo in the studio and put it onto a studio album! What the fuck guys? Black Sabbath weren’t the only culprits to feature a drum solo on their second album (and I’ll be dealing with those bands at later date) and in fairness the song itself is pretty cool, the guitar and bass interplay is great and the Iommi’s solo is short and sweet. Another positive is that the drum solo is quite short on record compared to Zeppelin’s ‘Moby Dick’ and the song doesn’t drag like ‘…Dick’ does, so there’s another bonus!

So the critics loved it, right?

In Nick Tosches’ Rolling Stone review from 1971, he spends about 1,500 words dismissing the band while not once mentioning their name, the album or any of the songs on the album.  Click here to find out why certain drugs are bad (and Rolling Stone reviewers are arseholes)

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/paranoid-19710415

In the decades succeeding its initial distribution, Paranoid has been regarded by many as Black Sabbath’s best album, and by some the best heavy metal album of all time.[20] Speaking to Guitar World in 2008, Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains called “Hand Of Doom” “a masterpiece. It’s hypnotic and terrifying and has a seductive groove. The song explodes into a twisted landscape made physical through sound.” Scott Ian of Anthrax told Nick Bowcott that “War Pigs” is “the sound of the apocalypse. It’s the sound of a vengeful God. It’s the sound of a beast crushing everything in its path.” In the Holiday 2008 issue of Guitar World, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead called “Iron Man” one of the most memorable riffs of all time while Kerry King of Slayer cited “Electric Funeral” as having “some monster riffs that have stood the test of time.” from Wikipedia.

Did it influence anyone?

No…………………………….joke! It’s difficult to comprehend just how influential this album and this band were. The whole doom metal genre owes a debt of thanks to Sabbath, hell every metal band owes a huge debt of gratitude to Black Sabbath and some hard rock, grunge, punk acts also drink from the Sabbath chalice.

So what happened after this?

Drink, drugs, more great albums, more drugs (especially cocaine), firing the lead singer, hiring Ronnie James Dio, two great albums, firing RJD, hiring Ian Gillan, inspiring the Stonehenge scene in ‘This Is Spinal Tap, hiring Tony Martin,, firing Tony Martin and re-hiring RJD, firing RJD and re-hiring Tony Martin, firing Tony Martin and reforming with RJD under the moniker Heaven and Hell, reunion tours and album with original singer and reality tv star Ozzy Osbourne. Nothing of note really.

Is it their best album?

The first five Black Sabbath albums are quite possibly the greatest run of solid albums by a band ever. It’s difficult to say that ‘Paranoid’ is their best work but blimey Charlie, it’s a bloody good ‘un! The songs are still a part of the band’s setlist, their 2013/14 Reunion Tour saw them perform 6 of the 8 tracks from the album (‘Hand of Doom’ and ‘Planet Caravan’ the two not played) and the album still stands today as a colossal piece of music.

The album in full:

 

 

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