Black Sabbath – Dumfries 1969 (Zodiac 144)

Black Sabbath – Dumfries 1969Dumfries 1969 (Zodiac 144)

Rugmans Youth Club, Dumfries, Scotland – November 16, 1969

(61:38) Black Sabbath, Let Me Love You Baby, Song For Jim (incl. Drums Solo), The Warning, Wicked World, Behind The Wall Of Sleep, Early Morning School, N.I.B., Blue Blooded Man

It’s been 10 years since the news broke that a very early Black Sabbath recording had surfaced, it caused some interest in the news as it attracted the Ozz man himself who reportedly bought the tape. Most fans, myself included, thought it would never surface. Late last year the recording broke via a couple torrent sites and I was finally able to hear it, not long after it hit the collectors market. After the dust settled, more people started talking about it, it seems that when tapes are hoarded they have an air of secrecy to them. From what I have read the tape has been in a very close circle for many years, and there are those who say there is more out there from the same taper and that this nights recording it not complete. Most feel it is a composite of either two shows or two sets, and after listening to it many times I think this argument holds some merit. There are many cuts scattered throughout the tape, and for a concert played shortly after their recording the first record I would have guessed Sleeping Village or The Wizard to be in the set. Whatever the case, we have it. The recording is good, it sufferers from sporadic drop outs, distortion and at times it’s nice and clear, other times a bit muddy but it is really very easy to listen to and sounds great when you crank it up. For the most part you can clearly hear all the instruments and vocals.

With a document of this importance, I believe a few words from the taper are in order, Alex Wilson take it away….

” The night of Sunday, 16th November 1969 at Rugman’s Youth Club changed my life. I’d never heard a band play with such power or heavy riffs before, and it actually made me start my own band! “‘I’ll start off by describing Rugman’s — it’s like standing in a small section of railway tunnel. There were stages at both ends, possibly about 20 yards long with walls curving onto the ceiling. The stage SABBATH played on was about 2 foot high. There were no fancy stage lights, just one red bulb overhead and all the other room lights were out! There was about a crowd of 80 to 100 of an average age around 16 years, so there was no alcohol. It is worth noting that there was NO swearing from Ozzy, possibly because there were kids present and maybe his Dumfries girlfriend as well — a girl named Gillian McQueen.

“‘The acoustics were quite good if there was a crowd in. The show was recorded at the far stage from where the SABS played, using one Grundig dynamic mike (thus making the tape just monaural). There was no automatic level setting on the mike then, so there are fluctuations in the recording level, as well as the inevitable bits of tape dropout considering the age of the tape originally used. During the music solos, you can hear the crowd chatting and discussing the evening, due to the obvious fact that they were standing between the mike and the band. The original tape was recorded on a Grundig reel to reel at 3 and 3/4 ips. I used to record every AMPLIFIED HEAT show, so my equipment was there. Towards the end of the Seventies, the tape began to fall apart. God knows when the original tape used was manufactured! But I did manage to transfer the recording to another reel to reel. SABBATH played 2 sets that night, but I was so gobsmacked that I didn’t record the first set! SABBATH’s equipment set-up that night was as follows: Ozzy sang through a Vox 100 watt P.A. amplifier via 2 Vox columns with four 10″ speakers in each of them! Geezer and Tony had a Laney stack each with two 4 x 12” speaker cabinets each, but amazingly their Laney amp heads were only 60 watts (one amp per stack)! Bill’s kit consisted of 1 bass drum, one hanging tom, one floor tom, one snare, and a hi hat!!”

The recording begins with the last 90 seconds of the song Black Sabbath, the first complete song is a take of Buddy Guy’s Let Me Love You Baby, it is a typical blues shuffle, it contains the way you walk you shake like a willow tree, lines Robert Plant would also use during a BBC broadcast, One can assume that Chess records made it to Birmingham, England. Song For Jim is an early number taking a heavy influence from Jethro Tull, whom Iommi briefly played with in 1968. The music part is bass, flute (played by Tony), and drums, in fact it is really just a vehicle for Bill Ward to pound his kit into submission for a solid 10 minute. The song does feature some really nice bass lines from Geezer also.

The Warning is a monster of improvisation and soloing, in fact if you are familiar with the long versions of Wicked World from the early 70’s you will be right at home tapping your toes to this as there are many familiar themes to Tony’s playing. The song starts out muffled for about the first 4 minutes. Wicked World is short and sweet and is similar to the original version, great song great riff love it. Continuing in that vixen is Behind The Wall Of Sleep, the song shows Metal fused with Jazz and it works.

Early Morning School is a blues shuffle similar to Let Me Love You Baby, again this song throws credence to the ideal of playing multiple sets in one evening and this song is clearly filler. N.I.B. contains completely different lyrics, all that is there is “My love for you has just got to be real…before you know the way I’m going to feel” (My love is not a typo), no mentions of Lucifer or anything. It is hard to make out exactly what Ozzy is saying but it is certainly not what we are accustomed to and the song sounds like it is about 90% there, very enjoyable. The final song of the set is Blue Blooded Man, a fast blues boogie and sounds very much like Ten Years After, again the band’s playing is excellent and that is what is so interesting about this tape, we all knew Sabbath cut their teeth on the live circuit, now you can actually hear a very embryonic band finding their feet as they had the chops, now it was just putting the pieces in the right order.

The packaging is typical Zodiac, period photos on a drab brown background make for an old looking manuscript from a millennia ago. The CD has a take of the old Vertigo logo on it and we get the collectable sticker. Flat out for a Sabbath fan or a metal freak you cannot pass this up.

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