Black Sabbath – Definitive Fresno 1976 (Zodiac 571)

Definitive Fresno 1976 (Zodiac 571)

Selland Arena, Fresno, CA, USA – November 9, 1976

(74:34) Supertzar, Symptom Of The Universe, All Moving Parts (Stand Still), War Pigs, Gypsy, Black Sabbath, Dirty Women, Drum Solo, Guitar Solo, Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor, Electric Funeral, Iron Man, Children Of The Grave, Paranoid

This recording comes from the archive of West Coast taper Robert Diebert whose name appears on many of the torrents, some feel Diebert many not be the actual taper, the name Robert Clayton has also been hinted at. What we know is that whomever the taper was used really good equipment and had an excellent taste in music, a whose who of Hard Rock bands from the late 70’s are among these tapes, Sabbath, Skynyrd, UFO, Van Halen, Styx, Heart, BOC…the list is vast. Many of these recordings are not 100% complete, often the taper would purposely cut a track when he circulated them, since the majority of these recordings seem to be first generation, one would assume that the master cassettes would be complete.

This recording appeared on bootleg titles a decade ago, Definitive Ecstasy (Lost And Found LAF-506/507) is a CD-R title while both In Fresno (No Label 2012) and Exstased In Fresno (The Godfatherecords G.R. 635) are silver formats. I have the Godfather title in my collection and there is a review of this title by Cliff on this site. The recording is excellent, all instruments and vocals are cleanly discernible and well balanced with just a very small amount of tape hiss as one would expect from a recording of this age. There is a very small amount of distortion in the upper frequencies and there is minimal crowd noise near the taper and the atmosphere is perfectly captured. As I stated this recording is incomplete, you can hear the introduction for Snowblind but the song is sadly cut. This new title from Zodiac also features mastering from the Graf Zeppelin team with the root version being the same version used by Godfather and No Label, the KRW_CO transfer from 2011.

When I compare this new title to the excellent Godfather Exstased In Fresno I find the differences minimal with the edge going to the Zodiac. The frequency range sounds wider with the bottom end sounding thicker, to my ears the analog feel of the recording sounds more natural as well. The power of the band comes through better, not a major upgrade but an upgrade nonetheless. There are a lot of titles being released with mastering by Graf Zeppelin, I have been picking through them deciding on what I need to upgrade and it can be difficult, investing money into titles I already own in very passable editions. I did not initially think I needed this title, I was really wanting the Fresno 1978 title by Zodiac, this one was more of a whim but am glad I bought it. Full props to Cliff for his excellent review, follow the link, it’s a good read and I can only echo his feelings.

The packaging is standard Zodiac, full color live shots of Sabbath in full flight adorn the inserts, the CD and numbered sticker feature the robots depicted on the cover of the Technical Ecstasy LP cover. Decent enough of an upgrade, not essential for those who have the Godfather or No Label versions but completists or those who do not have this in the collection will very much enjoy this title, certainly one of the best audience recordings from the tour, very much on par with the Lund 1977 tape.   


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