While we may disagree on a lot of my choices, my guess is that few will argue that Paranoid is firmly established as one of the most complete tops to bottom records of all time, with Side 1 being quite possibly one of the greatest sides ever put together. “War Pig’s” nearly 8 minutes of dark psychedelia makes way to “Paranoid” and what will become the standard of all future Metal songs, aka a Satanic, heavy repetitive downbeat rift which hammers away from beginning to end. The surprise of course is “Planet Caravan”, where again psychedelia is mixed in with a weird sort of lizard lounge atmosphere to create the perfect bridge to the infinite “Iron Man”.
Apart from being one of the most recognizable songs of all time, for a number of us “Iron Man” retains a special meaning. The song is about a man who travels through the future and sees the Apocalypse. He hurries back to earth to try to warn the inhabitants of planet earth about the impending end, but during his return journey he is turned to steel by a Magnetic storm. Unable to talk, his attempts to alarm the people of the impending end fall on deaf ears. Mocked and ridiculed, frustration turns to anger and he becomes what he tried to warn the world about, thus bringing “Vengeance from the grave”.
Now the time is here
For Iron Man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved
While Side 2 is weaker, it is still a MUST hear. Of note is “Rat Salad” a song of 2:31 minutes of which nearly 40% is Bill Ward going apeshit on a 55 Second legendary drum solo. Finally, we have “Fairies Wear Boots” which in my mind is one of the most underrated songs of all time! It starts with a Van Haleneske intro and proceeds to descent into a complex mix of Hard Prog, Metal fusion psychedelia. When you are done with it you will around the room with that “what the fuck” look on your face.
As for the cover, it is the work of British photographer Keith McMillan (aka Keef) another undisputed heavyweight of album covers, with works such as Colosseum, Warhorse, Rod Stewart, Kate Bush, the first three albums of Black Sabbath, Cressida, Nucleus, Greenslade, Status quo and an infinite number of other top album covers.
Bottom line, even if you are a Jazz aficionado, a Blues devotee, a Classical connoisseur or even a Reggaetón fanatic do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Paranoid, your musical life will improve because of it.
Ozzy Osbourne – vocals
Tony Iommi – guitar, flute on “Planet Caravan”
Geezer Butler – bass guitar
Bill Ward – drums, congas on “Planet Caravan”
Tom Allom – engineering, piano on “Planet Caravan”
Rodger Bain – production
Brian Humphries – engineering
Marcus Keef – graphic design, photography