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.