There are few releases that genuinely define the rock and metal genre with quite as much gravitas as Black Sabbath's colossal 'Paranoid'. The 2nd release from the Birmingham purveyors of doom - Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward - it's an album rightly revered as one of the most important in rock music history.
Along with their self-titled debut which also came loudly into the world in 1970, 'Paranoid's influence cannot be overstated, and saw the next step in the band's evolution from blues-based jam combo into something altogether darker, and a sound that would come to be called 'heavy metal'. Their commercial peak, it transformed the foursome, giving them their first, and for 43 years, only U.K. No.1 album, as well as a top 5 single.
One look at the running order, and it's clear why. Most of 'Paranoid's original track listing should be familiar to even the most casual listener, and even your mum will know some of these songs. Opening with anti-Vietnam anthem 'War Pigs' (interestingly, retitled as 'War Pigs / Luke's Wall'. Similarly, 'Fairies Wear Boots also adds its 'Jack The Stripper' prefix), it's followed by the written-in-twenty-minutes-as-we-need-a-single pop mastery of the title track, and shortly thereafter, the heavy as lead archetypal Sabbath masterpiece 'Iron Man'.
Elsewhere, the hippy trawl through space of 'Planet Caravan' offers some light and shade, against familiar favourites 'Hand of Doom', and the skinhead bashing 'Fairies Wear Boots'. Spinning it again, it's a compelling listen, regardless of overfamiliarity.
It's the extras that most will come for however, and the album is complimented by a brace of live shows from Switzerland and Belgium from the same period. These capture the young band in full flight, and are a great addition to the set.
As a package, it's simply beautiful, with the 5LP vinyl edition housed in a beast of a box adorned with a tweaked version of the original iconic artwork. Boasting that it's 'The Ultimate Black Sabbath Package' - It's not; 2017's 'Ten Year War' which collects together all of the band's Ozzy Osbourne fronted albums is more deserving of the title - with a 40 page book with extended liner notes, a replica 1971 tour programme, and much more, it really is the ultimate edition of this classic piece.
Of course we've had re-issues before - including 2009's excellent expanded 3 disc deluxe edition, which added instrumental outtakes and alternative mixes, strangely absent here - but only the most dour would deny that 'Paranoid' deserves to celebrate it's five decades in the sun, and this exhaustive set is the perfect way to do so.
Black Sabbath 'Paranoid - Super Deluxe Edition' is released on 9th October 2020, via Warners. Click here to order.