Sunday, January 04, 2009

Black Sabbath, Who Are You:

The song "Who Are You" from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath illustrates Black Sabbath's greatness.

I like listening to musicians who have great technical talents; but ultimately I realize that's all icing on the cake. Melody, soul, mood and feel are far more important. And those things can be expressed, as a matter of musical technique, in very crude or very refined ways, all over and in between. Most of my favorite music comes from players who aren't virtuosos (so they don't have that to hide behind) but aren't technical slouches either. When Ozzy Osbourne left Black Sabbath, they replaced him with someone who was technically a much better singer -- Ronnie James Dio. And he in turn got musicians in his solo band who were technically better players (notably Randy Rhodes on guitar). And they both (Ozzy and Black Sabbath) continued to make great music without one another. But that's mainly because they kept the essence of what made Black Sabbath great -- the melody, good songwriting, and the right mood. The better technique of Randy Rhodes or Ronnie James Dio was just icing on the cake.

And speaking of great technicians, the keyboardist on "Who Are You" is none other than virtuoso Rick Wakeman of Yes fame. But notice he's not playing a million notes a minute on this tune because that's not what the song calls for. The Moog synthesizer he used -- back then they were analog and monophonic -- if you knew the basics of how to program them were practically not capable of playing a bad sound.

1 comment:

RobotMan said...

Nice post. This whole album is incredible.