Black Sabbath – Copenhagen 1970 (Zodiac 407)

Copenhagen 1970 (Zodiac 407)

K.B. Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark – December 12, 1970

(72:56) Intro, Paranoid, N.I.B., War Pigs, Behind The Wall Of Sleep, Iron Man, Black Sabbath, Hand Of Doom, Wicked World, Guitar Solo, Wicked World (reprise), Fairies Wear Boots, Paranoid

The recording of Black Sabbath’s concert at Copenhagen’s famed K.B. Hallen arena on December 12, 1970 has long been known to exist yet only circulated in a very tight circle. Wicked World from this concert has circulated for close to decade on youtube and left Sabbath fans asking “Where’s the rest?”. This changed in August of this year, rather quietly it appeared on a well known tracker much to the delight of fans the globe over. It was an anonymous upload and based upon the information from the torrent, is sourced from the master reel. The audio quality of this newly unearthed recording is, for its age, excellent. The taper was close to the stage and was able to get an excellent capture of the event with all instruments and vocals being clear in the mix and well defined. The guitar and bass are in the front with the drums and vocals being just behind, you can hear the stage echo on Ozzy’s vocals and his between song comments are a bit hard to hear. There is a nice range of frequencies and, as one would expect, a small amount of distortion and tape hiss but overall an extremely enjoyable recording.

1970 was an extremely busy year for Black Sabbath, they released their debut album early in the year and began making headway in the live circuit with a unique form of pummeling Rock that would be referred to as Heavy Metal. Their legend began to spread and by the time of the release of their second album in October 1970, had a legion of fans, something that this recording certainly confirms. What is interesting about this recording is that Black Sabbath had done two tours of the USA before venturing into Europe, this tour was originally scheduled in October yet for some reason was delayed until December, the concert in Copenhagen would be the first date on the short tour.

There is a nice buildup to the band taking the stage, the audience is obviously ready for the band who take the stage to a nice ovation. The opening number would eventually become the band’s closing number, Paranoid. This recording sounds really nice at loud volumes, in fact I can feel the vibrations on my feet as I write this. N.I.B. follows with little fanfare and is a typically heavy version yet when Ozzy announces War Pigs it gets a huge ovation and what sounds like early chants of “OZZY”. Both N.I.B. and War Pigs are brutally heavy and the audience is loving it. They clap in between the breaks in War Pigs, this song is a perfect time to take notice of Bill Ward, perhaps the member of Sabbath that gets the least attention and is the band backbone. His drumming, especially in the early years is inventive and quite dynamic.

A bit of tuning is need before the band can get into Behind The Wall Of Sleep, the song has a swing to it, again due to the excellent drumming of Bill Ward, it’s also a good time to take in Geezer’s bass lines, he is not following Bill in a simple Rhythm but is expanding on it ala Jack Bruce…just superb musicianship and the group gets into the latter section, almost like free form Jazz! Iron Man is focused and direct and doesn’t drag like the mid 70’s versions. Black Sabbath features a nice ambient guitar interlude played by Tony, it’s like an old Hammer film, a pretty girl walking in the woods at night…when he drops the main riff it’s devastatingly powerful. Slow and methodical as this, Ozzy’s early vocals are way more haunting, the whole band is in sync and turn in an excellent version of their namesake song. Certainly one of the highlights of the live recordings from 1970 is hearing the Paranoid deep cut Hand Of Doom live, wanting to hear the song live was the reason I searched out the old Great Dane title War Pigs documenting the Paris, aka Brussels, soundboard. I never get tired of hearing it, the Copenhagen version captures the song perfectly, it really has a bit of swing incorporated in it, the audience responds by clapping in time in similar fashion to War Pigs.

Ozzy introduces Wicked World to zero applause, it was not released on the UK or European versions, only on the American version. The song is much shorter than its 1973 counterparts, there is a few previous live versions from 1970 so it is a treat to hear this in such great quality. There is no long jam, just a Tony Iommi guitar solo, what’s interesting is that Tony plays an embryonic bit of Wheels Of Confusion about 2:50 in. Fairies Wear Boots in the final song of the set, kicking ass is what this song is made of and the band is rewarded with a huge ovation and clambering for more. They are rewarded with a rare encore of Paranoid, obviously the band has nothing else rehearsed so they play the song again, this time with a more frenzied audience. A superb early performance by an up and coming band from Birmingham named Black Sabbath.

The packaging is typical Zodiac, fantastic early pictures of Black Sabbath looking young and chipper, ready to crush the world with their unrelenting style of music. Again props goes to those who released this recording out for the (Black) masses to enjoy, we thank yew. For Sabbath fans, this is an essential title to get.

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