Black Sabbath – Berlin 1970 (No Label)

Black Sabbath - Berlin 1970

Berlin 1970 (No Label)

Audimax, Der Freier Universitat, Berlin, West Germany – June 26, 1970

(44:05) Introduction, Paranoid, Iron Man, Black Sabbath, War Pigs, Hand Of Doom, Rat Salad, N.I.B. Bonus tracks; Radio Ad #1, Radio Ad #2

Flush with the success of their self titled debut record, by mid 1970 Black Sabbath were in the midst of writing and preparing material for their second full length LP to be released in September 1970 and would be titled Paranoid. Known recording sessions took place between June 16 – 21, 1970 and were done between live dates in England and a short tour of Germany. Like most bands back in those days, what better way to hone new material than in front of a live audience and by this period Black Sabbath were actively playing new material live. Thankfully for us there are recordings from early in Sabbath’s career, one of the best early tapes is from the bands gig in Berlin, West Germany in June 1970, there exists two recordings from this show, an average audience recording and the recording featured here of what is being billed as a soundboard. It is indeed an excellent sounding document, not as clean and pristine as the Montreux 1970 show it is clear and well balanced and at times there is slight distortion present in the upper frequencies but all three instruments and Ozzy’s vocals come through clearly. I am guessing that this is not the complete gig as circulating copies of the audience source have “Fairies Wear Boots” and “Wicked World” after “N.I.B.”, and many of the songs have fades between.

The recording begins with Ozzy stating they are starting off with a new song that will soon be released “Paranoid”. Musically complete the song does have different lyrics, only the beginning lines are what would eventually be used, the rest are somewhat disjointed sounding. Simple and straight forward the band are extremely tight in their playing. After the applause and a quick fade Ozzy introduces “Iron Man” and the song features Bill Ward keeping time through out Tony’s downturn note prior to the man riff being played and this version does not have the “I am Iron Man” intro lyric. As with all the new material, save “Rat Salad”, the lyrics are not fully complete but again the music is very similar to the versions found on the Paranoid record, making perfect sense given the close proximity to the recording sessions. During the bass section just prior to Tony’s solo Ozzy yells out a great “yeah” in response to the music being created, one can only agree.

Another between song fade eliminates Ozzy’s introduction to the band’s signature song “Black Sabbath” but Tony’s solo that was used as a prelude to the piece is intact. The small snippet is always nice to hear and would be a signs of music as yet to be written as it bears closely to “Orchid”, having the same haunting quality. It leads directly into the band riff of “Black Sabbath”, what makes the early versions so effective was that the band understood the use of silence. It’s the small pauses and sparse guitar / bass that add to the mysterious quality of the song that is most effective. During the fast riff section the band go back into the main riff section and go back into the song with different lyrics about crying children and screaming mothers, as if they have added a new section to the song, it leads into the “This is the end my friend, Satan’s coming round the bend” section and finally the solo coda section making for a most unique version. “War Pigs” has the Walpurgis lyrics more about black masses versus the commentary on war that would ultimately make the record. This song does suffer from distortion, mild though that gives the song a fuzzy tone, it should be noted that the audience is totally unfamiliar with the music and are very quiet, but do applaud at the music’s conclusion.

Ozzy introduces “Hand Of Doom” and being from the new record but there is a brief pause for stunning and some sporadic feedback. The different lyrics are most interesting such as “Drop the acid pill”, a direct reference on mind expansion for sure. Musical this is one of the most compelling pieces the band would write; similar in structure to “Black Sabbath” the full band section is simply devastating. The song is linked to “Rat Salad”, the song would become Bill Ward’s drum solo song that was en vogue at the time, largely due to the success of Ginger Baker’s “Toad”. The recording fades out at the songs conclusion there is an applause section that sounds out of place, it does a fade in then out before the recording picks up just a second before the band launch into “N.I.B.” The twist on most love songs, these early live versions of “N.I.B.” as incredible as this was a stage favorite for years to come as the band played it most effectively live with Tony nailing the solo, showing us why the band were so successful on the touring circuit.

The bonus material comes in the form of two radio ads; the first is an advert from American radio for their first record with the promise of music being compared to an open wound. The second is also from American radio but is from the Paranoid record, both ads feature prominently the fact that the band is on Warner Bros records and tapes. I am a sucker for this kind of stuff so it is a nice addition to this release.

The packaging is simple inserts in a jewel case, the cover and rear pictures have an excellent and has a blood spatter effect that is most effective, the inner insert pictures are live shots, a great one that is kind of dark of Tony with a beard and the cross around his neck, that was incidentally made by Ozzy’s Dad, seems to be glowing. Excellent recording of Black Sabbath during its infancy, while this is a solid release by No Label I feel it could have been better with incorporating the audience recording to fill the gaps that would have given us a definitive edition of this show.

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