Long Beach Arena 1971 (Zodiac 432)
Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA, USA – September 25, 1971
(65:26) Introduction, N.I.B., War Pigs, Sweet Leaf, Iron Man, Embryo / Children Of The Grave, Wicked World, Guitar Solo (incl. Orchid/Jam), Wicked World (reprise), Paranoid, Fairies Wear Boots
Nearly seven months to the day after recording Black Sabbath at the L.A. Forum in February 1971, Robert Rich and his crew are back in action taping Black Sabbath on the second leg of the Master Of Reality North American tour. This time Robert was in the audience at the Long Beach Arena and was rolling his trusty Craig recorder and handheld Mic, the results are another fine example of early Sabbath at their best.
Like Robert’s L.A. Forum tape, this recording was unearthed by the Dogs Of Doom and shared freely on the net. The sound is slightly distant yet very clear and detailed with all instruments and vocals being clearly heard in the mix. Being farther back than the Forum gig makes for less distortion, but none of the power of the music is lost. Even with the less than stellar equipment, I have pondered the thought that the acoustics of the Long Beach Arena are superior to The Forum, even Mike Millard’s Led Zeppelin recordings from this venue sound clearer than his Forum tapes.
Black Sabbath take the stage to a huge round of applause, some love from the Long Beach rock fans, unlike the earlier L.A. Forum gig, the atmosphere is electric in Long Beach. After a bit of tuning the band is introduced and begin via a furious Tony Iommi guitar solo evolving into a heavy version of N.I.B., (when is N.I.B. not heavy?). It is tapes like this that give credence to Bill Ward being one of the most underrated drummers in Rock, he is simply incredible during this performance, the power and detail in his playing punctuates the music all while maintaining this incredible swing, it’s something to behold. You can feel the energy in Long Beach as the band end the song and receive a huge ovation.
There is a bit of tape wrinkle at 5:14 to 5:23 of War Pigs, the mastering by the Dogs Of Doom minimizes the damage. Sweet Leaf is mega heavy, when they break into a fast part the crowd cheer pushing the band to let loose at a furious pace, one of the best versions of Sweet Leaf I have ever heard. The audience is told to “Get off your ass” as Ozzy leads them into a clapping intro to Iron Man, he gets the job done as they “raise the roof…so beautiful”. What is beautiful is Bill F***ing Ward, during the fast ending of the song it is one long fill that has to be heard to believe, powerful stuff!
Tony’s pre-song tune up gives hint to the next song, the danceable hit, Children Of The Grave…”hit that groove”. The energy just doesn’t give, Children hits you like a ton of bricks, a storm-trooping riff-a-thon, a master class of Heavy Metal. Wicked World is again a highlight, the improvised jamming mostly by Tony is excellent, such a unique guitarist and that tone is out of this world. While many of the themes explored during the guitar solo and band jams are common, they are played incredibly well. Paranoid ends the main set to a huge ovation followed by a demand for more, the wait would not be long and they return for a bombastic Fairies Wear Boots, Ozzy raises the energy level even higher by demanding maximum interaction with the audience, and they receive a massive ovation at its conclusion. Simply put, an incredible performance by Black Sabbath, you will be hard pressed to find better.
The packaging is like a twin of the L.A. Forum gig, posed and live shots with a Master Of Reality theme. Again the Ozz Man adorns the disc and the sticker as well. Like the Forum title, this, my friends is primo Black Sabbath, some of the best you will ever hear, and in excellent quality. If you will only buy one of these Sabbath titles, this is the one.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)