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Black Sabbath – Exstased In Fresno (Godfatherecords G.R. 635)


Exstased In Fresno (Godfatherecords G.R. 635)

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

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

Black Sabbath’s seventh LP Technical Ecstasy was released on 25 September 1976 in the USA and on 8 October in the UK.  The tour in support of the album seemingly began with the show in Tulsa, on 22 October (the band’s website notes an unconfirmed show in Portland on the 14th) and concluded in Gothenburg on 22 April 1977 (the final four scheduled dates having been cancelled).  Various acts opened for Sabbath, including Ted Nugent, Nutz and AC/DC, though the other acts appearing in Fresno were Boston and Bob Seger And the Silver Bullet Band.

The show opens with an excerpt from Supertzar, from the 1975 Sabotage album, which culminates in a brief spoken introduction.  After this we hear Ozzy Osbourne shout “right…go!” as the band launches into an energetic performance of Symptom Of The Universe, which makes for an exciting opening to the concert.  The omission of the later acoustic section and the final verse which is contained within it, brings the song in at five minutes rather than the six-and-a-half of the album version.  Osbourne then introduces Snowblind, which the taper did not capture, and so we then immediately hear him introduce the first of four songs from Technical Ecstasy, All Moving Parts (Stand Still), which receives an excellent performance with effective guitar work from Tony Iommi and a lengthier closing instrumental section.

After this, Osbourne encourages the audience to clap along as the band plays the slow introduction of War Pigs, the opening number from the Paranoid album.  The air raid siren heard on the album version is missing here and this version comes across as slightly faster than on Paranoid.  Then it is back to Technical Ecstasy with  a vibrant Gypsy, which Malcolm Dome, in his sleeve notes for the latest CD reissue, contends, “sounded – and still does sound – like a band confidently reaching for the future.”  Once again, an older number follows a new, in this case the opener from the band’s first album, which Osbourne introduces as, “the very first song we ever wrote.”  The performace of the leaden, doom-laden Black Sabbath is superb, coming across as profoundly menacing and genuinely unsettling.  The faster closing section section of the song, which, though it contains the last verse, is predominantly instrumental, is most effective.

Next comes an exuberant performance Dirty Women, the longest song from Technical Ecstasy, which is described by Dan Marsicano in an article reproduced on the band’s website as as song “with an epic feel to it.”  The song leads into a three-minute drum solo from Bill Ward.  Further soloing ensues, this time from Iommi, before another number from the new album, Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor, written, in Osbourne’s words, “about a real person, Dr. Max…He’d put us in the chair, shoot us up, put on the Rolling Stones and then fuck off.”  A further short guitar solo follows, leading into Electric Funeral from Paranoid, the rather turgid earlier part giving way to a frenzied acccount of the second section, which then leads into a tremendous seven-and-a-half minute Iron Man.  The set ends with an enthusiastic performance of the up-tempo Children Of The Grave.  The encore sees a few bars of Supernaut deployed as an introduction to audience favourite Paranoid, the fourth and final song from the album of the same name, which is a highly effective closer.

The notes state that, “this title presents almost complete amateur recording,” the use of the word amateur presumably indicating that the taper had no initial intention of circulating the recording.  As to the description of the tape as almost complete, as mentioned above, the song Snowblind was not recorded.  Fortunately, however, the taper captures the band’s performance in full and largely clear sound which is very good indeed for the time and enhances the pleasure of listening to this release. 

This release comes in Godfather’s customary tri-fold card sleeve with a colour scheme of pale blue, red and yellow.  There are several photographs of the band, both on and off stage.  The track listing appears on the rear and there are some fairly brief notes, partially based on Wikipedia.  There is no booklet. “Exstased” is presumably a misrendering of the word ecstasized.

Overall, with a fine performance and impressive sound, this is another fine release from Godfather, which deserves to find a place in every serious Black Sabbath collection. 


If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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  1. He was kind enough to make his cut after the singer had announced a song, apparently, so we know what is missing. Alternatively, he may have done it that way just so we know he’s one up on us! :)

    However, better one song short that all songs short, so I thank him for that good job!

  2. Sorry aleebee, I should have read your comment thoroughly – it would make more sense to cut a song from a tape for this purpose rather than simply not tape it. Essentially, however, my point remains – what SabbraCadabra789 writes supports your contention that the absence of Snowblind is the responsibility of the taper rather than Godfather.

  3. It’s a great title. If you like Black Sabbath and Technical Exstase, go get it before it’s too late.

  4. Actually no, the taper (Robert Clayton) got it. However, when he finally passed the tape on (in 2005 IIRC) he’d edited out ‘Snowblind’. It sems he taped lots of stuff in Fresno, most of which hasn’t seen the light of day – at least it hadn’t back then in 2005 – but those that he had passed on were generally missing a song: it was his ‘thing’, apparently. That is to say, ‘Snowblind’ was missing because dropping a song that was HIS ‘trademark’. In reference to other posts, yes, it is high time those Sabbath KBFH from 1976 and 1978 are given the silver treatment.

  5. As stated by SabbraCadabra789, who uploaded the songs from the show onto YouTube, “the Taper didn’t get Snowblind, because of some trademark or something according to Sabbathlive.com,” which would seem to agree with aleebee’s earlier comment.

  6. I have a low gen for this date and it also lacks Snowblind…any idea?

  7. “I guess it opens the door for some enterprising label to issue an ultra-complete super-definitive re-remastered version in the future, thus forcing us all to buy it again ;)”

    That’s awfully generous of Godfather to help out another label like that.

  8. AFAIK, and from what I gleaned from sabbathlive.com, to which I contributed here-and-there, the original circulated TAPE of this was missing Snowblind. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, needless to say.

  9. It CAN keep the cost down for the consumer. But the flipside is that the release is more attractive for less-seasoned or knowledgeable consumers (1CD=cheaper) and therefore is more likely to sell successfully–which (obviously) benefits the label.
    I guess it opens the door for some enterprising label to issue an ultra-complete super-definitive re-remastered version in the future, thus forcing us all to buy it again ;)

  10. I don’t really doubt you. I don’t know anything about this tape and whether it’s complete or not. I can’t find it on Wolfgang’s Vault either.

    And I know Godfather sometimes drop songs from their releases. They did that with a Madonna title.

    But the reason why they did it was to cut costs and not to charge customers a higher price for a 2CD set, but to keep it an affordable 1CD title.

    I don’t like that either because I like tapes to be as complete as possible no matter the cost. But Godfather’s practice in the past has been to omit songs to keep costs down for the consumer.

  11. gsparaco,
    I respect your reviews here and HW.Email me privately and I will explain how I know what I know.I LOVE music first and foremost and helped release some high profile Van Halen cds out of FRUSTRATION with the major labels like GF not releasing what seasoned collectors like yourself and I want.I am just saying they edited it for $$$$ and it kept it from being complete.:)Tom

  12. Yes.Godfather has edited songs out before.This would have been a nice 80 minute single disc or a double disc with the 1976 King Biscuit tape available on Wolfgang’s Vault Radio to fill out the second disc.Hardcore collectors respect this label for new tapes,but groan at hatchet jobs like this.Still recommend it even with the editing though.

  13. I wouldn’t point the finger at Godfather. Are there other versions of this show and/or tape in circulation with the missing song?

  14. My copy of this timed out at 72:23 which is standard time length for cds.I am convinced Godfather omitted “Snowblind”
    and made this a single disc to avoid paying the extra cost of pressing it on an 80 minute disc.They HAVE done this before in the past.That being said,it is a great tape.

  15. I’d love to see more Sabs titles from the Godfather, even if any will be just a rerelease; most of albums are hard to find and good sounding/improved reissues could bring more attention to new fans and people who weren’t able to pick up them before.

  16. Thanks for the review. When I first saw this advertised, I was pleased, but not overly excited. After all, I had Fresno 1978 already. It was only when I put it in the CD player, without having read the tracklist, that I realised it was Fresno 1976, and in marvellous quality. I then got very excited! In my defence, the 1978 promo-shot of the Sabs on the front had thrown me, but it made it all a lovely surprise, actually. According to the sadly now-defunct sabbathlive.com, this was recorded by a chap called Robert Clayton, who also gave us the 1978 Fresno gig. That recording is available as ‘One For the Nose’ (CD, Airdance) and ‘Fresno 1978’ (2CD, Zeus).
    ‘Snowblind’ is likely deliberately omitted, as it was apparently a ‘trademark’ of this taper to cut a track from the tape he circulated. It’s been postulated some tapers would omit a track to ‘mark’ the tape (if later versions are also missing ‘Track X’, yours was likely the source tape, so point in attempting an upgrade), and/ or to ensure that only they had the complete version as recorded. For many collectors, having something that no-one else has is part of the thrill. Pity then, that this is not complete, but don’t let it stop you getting a copy: you owe it to yourselves to have this in your collection, Sabs fans.

  17. Thanks for the kind comment on the review, relayer67. Woodruffe’s contribution was certainly in my thoughts as I composed this review, especially as I was also listening to Technical Ecstasy, and he deserved a mention. Upcoming work commitments meant that I wrote the review rather more quickly than I normally do, which proably led to this oversight – thanks for giving Woodruffe his due. Unfortunately, of course, the “forward sound” was not widely appreciated at the time. I was a big Sabbath fan in the early/mid 70s and I was most disappointed with Technical Ecstasy – it has, however, grown on me a great deal since. Finally, thanks for the book recommendation – I shall seek out a copy.

  18. Nice review and a killer release, again Godfather releases an excellent hard rock / heavy metal title worth having. It should be noted that the addition of Jezz Woodruffe on keyboards both on the Technial Extasy record and tour helped flesh out the newer songs and helped give the band that forward sound they were looking for. The first couple times I listened to this CD I could not help but pull a book that I can easily recomend as something to read while you listen; Black Sabbath Doom Let Loose by Martin Popoff. The chapter on the T E record provived much insite to the band during this period.

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