Posted: Aug 16, 2011
In celebration of todays BLACK SABBATH reunion mark II news I wanted to reprint here Julian Cope's amazing review of the ultimate seminal SABS bootleg "Behind The Wall of Spock". Hail Omid!
BEHIND THE WALL OF SPOCK
AOTM #35, April 2003ce
Released 2003 on Seidr
Disc 1• Killing Yourself to Live • Hole in the Sky • Snowblind • Symptom of the Universe • War Pigs • Megalomania • Sabbra Caddabra • Jam/Guitar Solo • Drum Solo/Jam • Supernaut • Iron Man
Disc 2• Orchid/Rock’n’roll Doctor/Don’t Start • Black Sabbath • Spiral Architect • Embryo/Children of the Grave • Paranoid
• This point is further enforced by the Midland pronunciation of the ‘street’ as ‘straight’, which is what it was to the Saxons and Vikings anyway (or should that be ‘any road’?).
Note 1: For those of you who always felt that LIVE AT LAST was too little too late, here’s a chance to dig Sabbath at their very best. It comes care of the best album title ever and should be scoffed up by anyone with a CD player. By the way, we can’t put the whole double-CD up as Holy McGrail wants optimum bit usage for this sonic brouhaha.
Note 2: Because this is an unofficial album, it will not be available on the Head Heritage Merchandiser. However, 10 copies have been located and will be given away as part of this month’s competition prizes. Please note that members of the Head Heritage organisation and their families are not eligible.
He loves to talk inanely does Ozzy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. As it’s always been my assertion that SABOTAGE is the most rounded, finished, complete statement made by Black Sabbath, this double live CD couldn’t really come from a better period, and Ozzy gassing just makes for a better show. Recorded at New Jersey’s Asbury Park Convention Hall just before the release of that album, we get the best of every world. Yes, SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH was their worst album of the main sequence of six, but it was still a stupendous statement from everybody’s favourite Wodenists, marred only by one (not two nor three) too many kack-handed Ionni-isms (yes, “Fluff” yer bastard!). That apart, “Supertzar” predicted Kiss’ mighty (and mightily ignored) THE ELDER by over half a decade and entirely re-shaped the sound of those other kack-handed cosmicians Hawkwind, who would swoop on the SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH sound and assault-and-batter it in WARRIOR ON THE EDGE OF TIME (via false starts during IN THE HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN GRILL) to create a Goths-Vandals-Huns-at-the-Gates-of-Rome sound that really ain’t even been approached since. Furthermore, these live versions manage to sod off all the arrangement detritus without losing the essential Mellotronia, which probably comes care of some unsung crew member, retaining all the make-you-cry-isms and defiantly in-your-face too-uncool-to-be-uncoolisms that only the Troggs and the Seeds coulda got away with, had they ever had the technical back up of 70s technology, and which the Moody Blues shoulda done more with (being equally Midland but possibly too genuinely enlightened [and too democratic] to make real).
There’s no real point in giving you the whole double CD to wade through, as it’s a given you’re right now on the way to Hummer-Vuh or Virgin to score this sucker. Besides, whoever needed “Orchid” and “Embryo” besides Iommi’s grandma?
I've watched the dogs of war enjoying their feast - I've seen the western world go down in the east
So “Supertzar” is the fanfare tape at the beginning, and comes on very A CLOCKWORK ORANGE when played in a massive concert hall. Man, it’s inspiring me. Straight after this review, I gots to listen to Edgar Froese’s “Metropolis” from the AGES double-LP. Then I shall follow it up with Kiss’ majestic “Under the Rose”! Man, it really musta been great to get rid of Peter Criss for a couple of albums! Even Eric Carr’s make-up was better! Anyway, talking of better drumming, it should also be noted that Bill Ward’s throwing-bibles-at-the-sofa drum fills sound fuck-off on this recording. We love you!
“Killing Yourself to Live” is monstrous and the subterranean bass is so much better without any support whatsoever, so the descending chord solo actually become “N.I.B.” I guess the best bands all descend into a kind of Odinist ur-version of themselves right in the middle of their trip. The Five did it as did the Doors, the Pistols, the Clash and the Stooges, so it’s righteous that Sabbath do too. We love you! It even brings the weirder bits out like “I’m telling you believe in me, nobody else will tell you.” And that Zappa-esque vocal-following-guitar riff is always a Juicy Luicyan shock (same Vertigo spiral label, all you vinyl nerds) and the laugh is up with Ian Hunter and the Gillan cackle at the end of “Speed King”. O, then there’s that brilliant mysterious “I don’t know but I’ve been told” melody w/lyric about how:
“The colors of my life are all different somehow
Little boy blue's a big girl now.”
Little boy blue being a big girl now still shocks in context with the Sabbath canon of the law. Indeed, it’s like finding out your Viking sons have been practising seidr so you gots to kill them, like really happened in the 11th century. Spookeh!
“We Love You,” shouts the Oz. It’s the first of thirteen thousand on this record.
“This is off our new album, sorry it’s been delayed, you probably don’t know it, listen, you might like it.” Okay, you passed the audition, guy, we paid already.
He might have recorded it already but Ozzy surely ain’t got the lyrics to “Hole in the Sky” in his head for this show. In typical Gillan manner, we get repeated first verses and even flat-as-flat-fluffs but it’s done with such braying Roger Chapman heathen grace that it just don’t doesn’t not matter. In fact, you get the impression he repeats “I’m living free because the rent’s never due” just because he’s riffing on it and thinking how very Oz it is. Moreover, the lyric from “Hole in the Sky” hits you even more today than it did in the 70s:
“I'm looking through a hole in the sky,
I'm seeing nowhere through the eyes of a lie.”
Man, doesn’t that just about sum it all up? I know if I see anymore BBC News shots of RAF Brize Norton with nothing going on in the background, I’ll scream the place down. (We love you!) However, if there’s one thing this album does it’s re-enforce how great most of the Sabbath lyrics are, and how pertinent they have been throughout my lifetime. Most of them were written by Geezer Butler, whom Tony Iommi had always referred to as ‘the Keltic Poet’. Forget the Tap context, babbies, it’s my theory that said with a Brummie accent (which is after all just an industrialised Danish accent1), he become Gazer Butler – as in stargazer, got me?
“I've seen the stars disappear in the sun
The shooting's easy if you've got the right gun
And even though I'm sitting waiting for Mars
I don't believe there's any future in cars.”
C’mon babs, a statement like that last line is realistic genius (we love you!) and poetic genius wrapped up in one, while the bit about it being easy shooting when you’ve got the right gun just about sums up the smug arrogance of Rumsfeld & Co. (We love you!) without even attempting to make sense.
“Snowblind” is almost as beautiful and death’s bed as on VOLUME IV, but the Oz is too happy and even sneaks an “I love you” in the aside before Iommi’s guitar is consumed by Hel’s fleshy upper half. Shit, Oz sneaks another “We love you” in and starts her lower skeletal half boogie-ing (can you do that?). We Love You. This guy means it however throwaway it is, it’s oozing out of his every pore. Finishes in a climax of “Yeah!!!!” like death is life (which of course it is).
Introduces album. Like it’s Tamworth Youth Club and the make or break of the group. “Go!” says Ozzy like a dead ringer for Reg Presley. “Sympton of the Universe” is perfection complete with flat yeahs. Dammit, this is a great album. Straight into “War Pigs” and Ozzy has them clapping. Same Ozzy every night and it’s heevy as they can sound, so you don’t even miss the air-raid siren (which Amon Duul 2 woulda got together on tape, as would Hawkwind, which only serves to remind us of the that’ll-do power trio ur-nature of Sabbath, and you need-no-more is what they show us here). After the instrumental section, more inappropriate clapping at the behest of John – he’s a clapping We-love-you-ing behemoth from Hel.
“We’re gonna do another off our new album… Plug…” Yup, he’s a smooth bastard is our John. Even at pre-arena stage he’s a shameless market trader.
Watching eyes of celluloid tell you how to live
Stripped of its Renaissance/Gentle Giant acousto-chintz, the live “Spiral Architect” really starts to move me. I’d always had my soft spot for it, but secretly suspected (We love you!) that it was me just being a soft arse. Of course, Sabbath fans at school and college were always way too insular and emotionally autistic to admit that their fave band could stick their hooves the wrong side of sentimental – not batting a give-away eyelid even when Ozzy struggled through “(I’m going through) Changes” on VOLUME IV, now how dutiful is that? Oz even shamelessly substitutes ‘audience’ for ‘memories’ in the second verse:
“Of all the things I value most in life
I see my audience and feel their warmth
And know that they are good
You know that I should
U-Know watt? I never watched the Osbournes so there might be a whole crowd of you reading this going, what’s he on this week, Cope? All I can say is yes (We love you!) the Oz is a clueless knobshiner with killdozer kids, but this Skellig Michael hermit/Viking ain’t complaining one bit. Ozness ain’t tarnished his inverted cross in this household because that programme never got watched (excepting of course those shakey gravy traumas over X-Mass!). Sorry to offer that cop-out aside, but fuck you (We love you) if you don’t believe me. Besides, “Symptom of the Universe” is next, so the riff will drown out whatever you yell at me.
“Take me through the centuries to supersonic years
Electrifying enemy is drowning in his tears
All I have to give you is a love that never dies
The symptom of the universe is written in your eyes.”
Even the Saxon cavalry rhythms at the end sound better than the studio album, dammit. Is this more of the Scando-Germanic Midlander thing? I know the Vikings were a sea people but their poems always alluded to hooved animals, with their ships being ‘horses of the breakers’, and ‘ocean-striding bisons’, and ‘horse of the lobsters’ heath’ and ‘fjord elks’. Even a flotilla of ships was poetically named ‘a fleet of the otter’s world’. And so, just as we’re brought up to believe that the Vikings merely blundered upon the monastery at Lindisfarne, rather than sitting in mighty Trelleborg for months seething at those shaven ingrown cop-outs with all their cloistered wealth, then consciously blasting across the Baltic with tonsured death on their minds, we tend to believe that Sabbath too just kinda shambled upon their trip by reading a coupla Dennis Wheatley’s after getting some late night Hammer Horror down them as they’re drunkenly necking Wednesbury curry take-aways of a Friday night. But somehow I think we need a bitovva re-think. I’m talking intuitive genius, of course, cause these weren’t no educated types – but does it matter when you got Wednesbury primary schools with names like Noose Lane Juniors? I think a fairly hefty NOT!!!
Next up is ‘War Pigs’ with its legendary clap-alonga-Sabs:
“Generals gathered in their masses (We Love You!)
just like witches at black masses”
The tragedy of this lyric is just how on the case it is. And all those evil minds that plot destruction really are sorcerers of death's construction. And in the oilfields where the bodies are burning as the war machine keeps turning, Britain is contributing to the death and hatred to mankind by further poisoning their already brainwashed minds (We Love You!!!)... Oh lord yeah! I have seen the many faces of the Gods, and I call them all Rock’n’roll!
“Megalomania” is just behemothian on this record. Joy Division meets Hawkwind and consumes both of those bands, despite Gazer’s accidentally reading a psychology magazine article while he was in the doctor’s waiting room re-newing his Junior Aspirin prescription. How long is this thing? 2 hours at least. And then “Sabbra Caddabra” is as lyrically bereft as a Sabbath love song should really be, gleeful and life-affirnming and huge. If this was one of those southern boogie-woogie bands we’d be gagging, but they got the Anglo-Scando-Germanic so running, nay coursing through their veins, they’z about as American as a Ford Consul Capri. This song could be on VOLUME IV played like this. It only takes one listen to this version to remind me what I hate about so much of SABBATH RUDDY SABBATH, and it’s the Gods’ damn production. Sabbath ain’t doing anything different, it’s that sumptuous swamp they’z hosed over everything. Dry the fucker up and I guarantee we’d play it as much as the other five.
Then we come to the big climb, Max (We love you!). Keep the drum solo on, by the way. Give it some hommer. It’s brief, too, before a “Children of the Grave” style Saxon cavalry jam starts up. Again, it’s an Iommi everysolo from bagpipe theme tune to obliterati seethe-werk via fairly believable Keltiberian Beltane Awakening. U-know me and I don’t give a drywank about authenticity, so this soup doggy dog must be the pig’s business or it’d be off the turntable next to ARGUS (great sleeve though, eh?).
Babbies, I finished this review. I can’t just crash through descriptions of Sabbath songs like this. What’s the evidence that it’s a great album? Well, I’ve played it shitloads and it’s kept me buoyant in these dark days of Rumsfeld & Co. Have a listen and tell me that finishing with “Children of the Grave” and “Paranoid” ain’t the best finish to a (Nunnofishal) live double-LP evvah!!! We Love You!!!