When Black Sabbath released their Black Box in 2004 featuring all the original lineup’s studio albums in remastered form, they also included a bonus four-song DVD. This disc was the oft-released television broadcast of a German show called Beat Club (later MusikLaden). Sabbath made two appearances in 1970, and the Black Box was the most official release of them. Before upgrading to the Black Box, I owned an earlier, unofficial DVD release. I taped that DVD to cassette, and that’s what I’m listening to right now.
“Black Sabbath” is torrential, as intense as the young band was able. Ozzy sounds as if possessed, truly terrified and warning us that something foreboding and terrible is coming. “Paranoid” is strangely echoey and distant, but still as incendiary as 1970 Black Sabbath should be. Interestingly, in this version it really does sound as if Ozzy is singing “end your life” instead of “enjoy life”. A sparse “Iron Man” announces its arrival with evil Gibson guitar sonic bends. This version of “Iron Man” is a little stiffer than others, but not for long. Towards the end, Geezer Butler unleashes the hordes and the song stampedes to a close.
Finally and most notoriously is “Blue Suede Shoes”, a performance pretty much everybody has since disowned. It’s not terrible, although it’s certainly uncharacteristic. It’s as if Black Sabbath were suddenly encroaching upon ZZ Top’s territory. Tony’s speedy solo is interesting if not typical, and the band really stepped it up. I get why some would mock it; it’s kind of goofy and definitely not as impressive as the Sabbath originals. But it’s…fun? Is Sabbath allowed to be…fun?