Black Sabbath – Definitive Pittsburgh (No Label)

 Definitive Pittsburgh (No Label)

Civic Arena Pittsburgh, Pa. USA December 8, 1976

Disc 1 (55:49) Symptom Of The Universe, Snowblind, All Moving Parts Stand Still, War Pigs, Gypsy, Black Sabbath, Dirty Women, Drum Solo, Guitar Solo, Electric Funeral, Children Of The Grave

Civic Arena Pittsburgh, Pa. USA September 2, 1978

Disc 2 (64:41) Snowblind, Black Sabbath, Dirty Women, Rock N Roll Doctor, Drum Solo, Guitar Solo, Electric Funeral, Iron Man, Fairies Wear Boots, Children Of The Grave, Paranoid

The show from 1976 features the band touring in support of Technical Ecstasy, a brilliant record that was kind of overshadowed by the groups early to mid seventies releases that were so universally praised. Thankfully this recording exists and we get excellent quality versions of three of the songs from the record. The concert was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour and is of excellent quality, well balanced and enjoyable although there is at times distortion in the upper frequencies. It is more of a bare boned recording with virtually no audience interference.

The recording picks up with the first notes of Symptom Of The Universe and Ozzy’s vocals sound rough but the band sounds in fine form and it is very heavy, the same can be said about Snowblind, Ozzy introduces it as a number from one of their older records. For a song that was written as an homage to cocaine it seems to lumber across the stage like a long forgotten dinosaur but captures the musical haze well.

The first of the new songs is All Parts Stand Still starts with some brief tuning by Gerald Woodruffe who was touring with the band to fill out the sound and re create the new music the band was playing. Geezer claims the song was written about Margaret Thatcher and featuring some excellent riffs courtesy of Tony Iommi who was a very involved with the record.

Gypsy is one of my favorites from the TE record, the lyrics are average but has a great melody and riff and Gerald keyboards really add the songs mystical nature. There bands signature song, Black Sabbath, follows in all its dark and cloaked ambience. Bill Ward is drumming perfection, he ads’s little notes as nuances that help to accentuate Ozzys vocals as only he could. Dirty Women sounds ominous in a dreary way and is Sabbath at their best, the Iommi riff is fabulous, Wooddruffe adds some nice fills to boot and I love the way to song kicks into gear with some nice time changes.

The song evolves into the solo section beginning with a Bill Ward drum solo featuring a few Geezer notes at the beginning but is all to brief and Iommi enters in with some swing jazz notes before Geezer and Bill join in to great effect. The jam evolves into the creepy opening riff of Electric Funeral as it rises from the depths, the song is very effective live and one has to wonder what took them so long to adapt it for the stage. It is linked non stop with Children of the Grave and the song is a superb version, fast and aggressive.

The show from 1978 features the banding touring in support of the Never Say Die record and a tour that would ultimately be the last with Ozzy until the late 90’s. The recording can be found on Wolfgangs Vault and also circulates from a supposed pre FM reel, this one is not. From what I have read the difference is this version has the introduction over the opening of Snowblind of “Best Of The British Biscuit” where the pre FM does not have it. The recording, while excellent sounds like a two source mix, Dirty Woman through Electric Funeral do not sound like the same mix and I know that Snowblind, Black Sabbath, Iron Man, and Paranoid

were on the original broadcast and have the audience mix high for better ambiance and the rest coming from a different mix with less audience noise.

The first couple of songs is missing, namely Symptom and War Pigs and the recording starts with Snowblind and an incredible Black Sabbath featuring a great line from Ozzy just before the fast rocking section of the song he says “Come on and dance with the devil” and Iommi proceeds to rip the hell out of the solo, a superb version. The sound changes slightly for Dirty Women and Rock N Roll Doctor again evolves into the solos, and again the drum solo is kept to a minimum but Tony’s solo is much more intriguing.

It starts of with an nice Embryo style jam and goes into a variation of the riff to Hole In The Sky and ultimately into a nice jam on the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath riff. After some meandering around the haze is parted again by the brilliant Electric Funeral with some nice gong hits to accentuate its arrival, heavy and brutal the version is metal at its evil best.

Great to hear a late 70’s version of the perennial classic Fairies Wear Boots, one of my favorite Sabbath songs. This version has a slightly faster tempo that I total love, perhaps trying to keep up with the younger generation that were chomping at the collective heels. Ozzy also mentions Pittsburgh many times throughout the show and demands their participation, as usual. The performance, on the whole, has a lot of energy and is a very satisfactory concert. Makes me wonder what became of a lot of the old King Biscuit shows that were recorded and chopped up to fit the program, seems like a lot was left on the cutting room floor.

The packaging is full color inserts of the band and some medieval looking settings and the logo graphics help give a very Gothic feel to the release, I love the picture of Ozzy with a beard on the cover. The cds have the respective record covers on them, Technical on the first, Never Say Die on the second and all is housed in a slim line jewel case. While neither of the shows are complete the sound quality and time period the release focuses on made this a no brainier for me, I bought it, cranked it up and continue to enjoy it.

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