Scandinavium Occultism: Sweden 1974 (Tarantura TCDBS-8)
Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Sweden – Friday, January 11, 1974
(69:58) Introduction, Tomorrow’s Dream, Sweet Leaf, Killing Yourself To Live, Snowblind, War Pigs, Cornucopia, Sabbra Cadabra, Jam, Sometime’s I’m Happy, Drum Solo, Supernaut, Drum Solo, Guitar Solo, Sabbra Cadabra reprise, Embryo, Children Of The Grave (fade out)
By 1973 Black Sabbath were prepared to begin writing the follow up to Vol. 4, they went back to the same house in Los Angeles, California where they wrote the record but the vibes were different and the music did not flow. The band left California and went back to England where they set up shop at the famous Clearwell Castle in Wales. Their equipment was set up in an old dungeon (this is Sabbath after all), the vibes of the location and the supposed paranormal activity of the location seemed to inspire the band. Previously Tony Iommi was having a case of writers block, all this changed once he hit upon a riff that would change their fortunes and become the new records title track, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. From there the music flowed with the band going for a much broader sound, influenced by their peers and the rising influence of English progressive music would make their new platter the most diverse yet. Released in December 1973 the album, titled Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, would chart in the top 10 in both England and America and over time take its place as arguably the finest record the band would craft.
The tour to promote the record started in December 1973 with select dates in England and continued in January 1974 with dates in the UK followed by an American tour in the spring and a proper tour of the UK and finally a return trip to Australia. The recording from Gothenburg, Sweden featured here is from very early in the tour and is the earliest tape from the tour, not counting the summer show from the Alexandria Palace.
The recording featured here is a fair to good audience recording of the majority of the show, it is missing “Iron Man”, “Black Sabbath”, and “Paranoid” and the end of “Children Of The Grave” fades out. The sound is clear and the individual instruments can be heard, the recording favors the upper frequencies with the bass low in the mix and the people around the taper are quiet so there is little crowd interference. This show has been released under the title Frosty Scandinabium but that was a CDR release, thankfully this release marks the shows silver debut.
The recording begins with the band checking their instruments, one thing I found curious is you can clearly hear someone checking a synthesizer, it all leads to the “And now…Black Sabbath!” introduction and the opening track “Tomorrow’s Dream” from Vol. 4. A perfect opening song the band had been using since the previous year as evident from the brilliant Live At Last opus. The song shows the band in fine form from the start musically and vocally complete with Ozzy’s “We love you” at the end. The band pause for some tuning as Ozzy introduces a number from their earlier albums, “Sweet Leaf”. The song lumbers across the stage in a stoned haze, what is nice is the drums are clear and you can really enjoy the hard hitting style of Bill Ward, he seems to be pushing the band and more than keeping pace. The song feels good as evident by a great “YEAH” from Ozzy at the songs conclusion.
Ozzy starts to introduce a song from “our Sabbath Bloody Sa….” before he is stopped and corrects himself by saying it’s “Children Of The Grave” and corrects himself again and introduces “Killing Yourself To Live”. More confident and powerful than the embryonic version found on Live At Last and lyrically complete the song is a monster live. Tony has a nice guitar sound that gives it that unsettling feeling and his solo is classic Iommi as the band loses none of their fury as he solos. Ozzy seems to punctuate the “Smoke it…get high” to great effect, after his last introduction I am sure he is feeling good. A powerful version of “Snowblind” follows, the middle dreamlike “My eyes are blind but I can see” section sounds most cryptic and Iommi’s solo and the hall echo makes for a haunting effect. A routine “War Pigs” follows, the band goes into the opening and after a couple bars the siren starts wailing making a real eerie effect. The song that really slays me is “Cornucopia”, there is a lengthy tuning prior to the song but when Tony starts the riff it just grinds you into pulp, it is that heavy. The lyric is interesting with its themes of consumer waste that is more relevant today than it was some 40 years ago. The song just kind of stops in an unceremonious fashion that leaves the audience confused.
Ozzy introduces “Sabbra Cadabra” and more tuning follows; you can hear someone sound checking the Synth again. Originally titled “Lovely Lady” the band changed the name to make it more in line with their image, the song is a barn burner for sure. It doesn’t sound like Ozzy has all the lyrics down yet, he flubs a little here and there, days before TelePrompTer were a bitch. You can clearly here the Synth during the “Lovey Lady make love all night long” section, the song is also a vehicle for improvisation and solos from the group, it is during these jams that some of the really nice nuggets are to be found. Bill Ward is simply playing fantastic as evident during the jam that leads into a brief instrumental workout on “Supernaut”, his fills are just incredible. It all delves into a blues type thing where Tony shows his ability and versatility as a guitarist and the band’s roots in the blues. The first jam is cut at 2:38, the cut is smooth but the sound is slightly inferior from now until the end of the tape. The recording continues as the band are playing a somewhat psychedelic sounding jam with Geezer laying down some killer bass ran through a wah pedal, all the while Tony is playing some far out leads with ambient drumming from Bill giving a dreamlike feeling to the piece.
The jam evolves into the “Sometimes I’m Happy” section, a blues piece that has a great Sabbath twist, the band would play this song a lot during the mid 70’s and I have often wondered if they ever attempted a studio recording of the song. Bill takes over for a drum solo that leads into “Supernaut” this time with vocals, the recording sounds cut at 1:45 into another drum solo. This could possibly be the cut that eliminates both “Iron Man” and “Black Sabbath” from the recording. The drum solo leads into a short Iommi solo before they break full force back into the “Sabbra Cadabra” jam / reprise. Ozzy tells the audience they will finish up with “Children Of The Grave” and they seem to come to life and clap along during “Embryo” and Ozzy admonishes them to get up and go as the band start the iconic riff. Thankfully the recording does brighten up for the song and the band plays a barnstormer version, full of energy. Unfortunately the song is cut at the 4:04 mark eliminating the last minute or so of the song as well as the encore of “Paranoid”. All in all, a well played and very enjoyable show.
The gatefold sleeve is adorned with posed and live shots of the band, I really like the cover, the gray tones and fonts give it a really beautiful gothic feel. With just average sound quality and a hefty price this title is not for everyone, but for a Sabbath connoisseur it is a must have, there is precious little of collectable releases documenting this era of the band so this is most certainly appreciated by this reviewer. A fine release from the folks at Tarantura.