‘Technical Ecstacy’ marked a turning point for Black Sabbath as they continued to move away from the heavy doom of the 1970-75 years and turned to a more traditional form of hard rock.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Black Sabbath
ALBUM: Technical Ecstacy
LABEL: Vertigo/Warner Bros
SERIAL: 9124 100, BS 2969
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Ozzy Osbourne – vocals * Tony Iommi – guitars * Geezer Butler – bass * Bill Ward – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Back Street Kids * 02 You Won’t Change Me * 03 It’s Alright * 04 Gypsy * 05 All Moving Parts (Stand Still) * 06 Rock And Roll Doctor * 07 She’s Gone * 08 Dirty Women
WEBLINKS: Site Link
‘Technical Ecstacy’ marked a turning point for Black Sabbath as they continued to move away from the heavy doom of the 1970-75 years and turned to a more traditional form of hard rock. In came songtitles like ‘Gypsy’, ‘Rock and Roll Doctor’ and ‘Back Street Kids’ which displeased those in favor of the older style. This for years has been the most overlooked Ozzy era Sabbath album, but time seems to be readdressing the balance, as this is now gaining the credibility it deserves as a classic.
The band was showing signs of wear and tear from years of abuse and reportedly Ozzy wasn’t happy with much of the material here, allegedly refusing to sing on ‘It’s Alright’. The riffs are solid however, and it was to that point Sabbath’s most melodic outing, retaining all the heaviness one had come to expect from the legendary act.
‘Back Street Kids’ is the perfect opener, galloping with intensity, true 70’s metal and to my ears heavier than anything they had done up to that point. Keyboards are prominent in the mix and Iommi tears off an excellent solo. The older style wasn’t totally forgotten, ‘You Won’t Change Me’ proverbially doom laden with keyboards swirling around ominously. Very melodic, I cannot understand why this is not more well known.
‘It’s Alright’ sees Ward take vocals, and the result is a well worked ballad, heavy on piano. This wasn’t Sabbath’s first ballad, having recorded ‘Changes’ on ‘Volume 4’ in 1972. Ward claims Ozzy liked the song in a later interview, trying to clear up the long standing controversy. Sabbath followed Uriah Heep and Deep Purple with their own ‘Gypsy’, a basic hard rocker which could almost have been a hit single with its hook.
The epic ‘All Moving Parts (Stand Still)’ is another classic, with some furious passages at the halfway point, the band in superb form, Ward in particular, smashing his kit in. Taking the new direction to its zenith is the near boogie of ‘Rock And Roll Doctor’, which recalls Deep Purplewith the piano work. Extremely heavy, 70’s metal never sounded better.
Utilising orchestral techniques and strings is ‘She’s Gone’, another ballad and haunting some might say. ‘Dirty Women’ is the only track which Sabbath would feature in their sets from this album when Ozzy rejoined in the late 90’s, easily living up to the heights of the other tracks and there are some pleasing melodic passages courtesy of Iommi, especially an outstanding solo amidst some faster passages later on.
This has always been my favourite Ozzy album with Sabbath, which is not to put down the benchmark early material, but this is eminently more listenable and not as heavy handed. It captures a perfect blend of Iommi’s identifiable riffing with more upbeat melody lines and the subject matter was far more commercial. For years this and ‘Never Say Die’ were considered the bad apples of the Ozzy era, but they are both on par with anything preceding them.
Black Sabbath’s popularity did start to wane around this time, but it would be unfair to blame the music. ‘Technical Ecstacy’ is faultless and just as deserving of being included into those who claim Sabbath to be the inventors of metal as we know it. That argument is for another time and place, preferably never again.
Back Street Kids
Rock And Roll Doctor