Rat Salad
Paul Wilkinson
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Buy *Rat Salad: Black Sabbath, The Classic Years, 1969 - 1975* by Paul Wilkinson online

Rat Salad: Black Sabbath, The Classic Years, 1969 - 1975
Paul Wilkinson
Thomas Dunne Books
256 pages
July 2007
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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When we normally think of Black Sabbath, we conjure dirge-like guitar riffs, bombastic drums and furious bass, and Ozzy's dramatic vocals. Rarely do we look at the Birmingham quartet's music in truly technical terms. We do now. Wilkinson, a guitarist in his own right, deconstructs the band's music and lyrics and analyzes the songs as any musicologist might.

He cites the influence of English poetess Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964) on Ozzy's lyrics. Some sweet and demure British damsel shaping Osbourne's words? Maybe. Paul provides samples and evidence.

Further, he dives into the music by interpreting riffs and chord changes in theoretical fashion. Here, he talks about the lick in "Black Sabbath":

"The predominant musical theme, a tritone in the key of G, the idea for which Butler and Iommi have since maintained came to them both simultaneously, sounds like the very gates of Hell opening up. Ward's drumming rumbles ominously throughou these passages - in a style I'm going to call 'noir-tribal' - and gives the slow, pondereous accompaniment an unsettliing and pendulous momentum."
A trifle heavy-handed but right on the button harmonically speaking. He examines every track in this micro-fashion, but he balances these bits with colorful passages of life in the studio and on the road. The world during these half-dozen years is also prodded and poked, and major events like the Vietnam War, the space program, and the Manson family provide background.

This is the author's first book and a very workmanlike effort. He has cited many prominent sources, including my own book on Black Sabbath titled Black Sabbath.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2007

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