Black Sabbath began work on their sixth album in February 1975, again in England at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London. They had a decisive vision to differ the sound from their previous album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Guitarist Tony Iommi, who produced the album, said that "We could've continued and gone on and on, getting more technical, using orchestras and everything else which we didn't particularly want to. We took a look at ourselves, and we wanted to do a rock album - Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath wasn't a rock album, really."
Over the years, singer Ozzy Osbourne has often complained in interviews that this album marked the beginning of what he described as Tony Iommi's studio production obsession. Sabotage took considerably longer to record and produce than each of their preceding albums, making it the most costly Black Sabbath album to that point. In comparison, the band's first album, Black Sabbath (1970), took only 12 hours to record at a cost of a few hundred pounds.
The album is a mix of heavy, powerful songs such as "Hole in the Sky" and "Symptom of the Universe", and softer experimental songs such as "Supertzar" and "Am I Going Insane (Radio)", which are similar to the band's previous album. The title of the latter caused some confusion due to the "(Radio)" part, which led people to believe the song was a radio cut or radio version. However, this is the only version of the song. The term "radio-rental" is rhyming slang for "mental". The song itself is very different from the typical Ozzy Osbourne-era Black Sabbath song. It features no heavy guitar riff; instead, a keyboard riff is prominent. The song concludes with an "insane laugh" which carries into "The Writ".
Sabotage was released on 27 June 1975. For the second time, a Black Sabbath album initially saw favourable reviews, with Rolling Stone stating "Sabotage is not only Black Sabbath's best record since Paranoid, it might be their best ever", although later reviewers such as AllMusic noted that "the magical chemistry that made such albums as Paranoid and Volume 4 so special was beginning to disintegrate".
Sabotage cracked the top 20 in the United Kingdom and peaked at number 28 in the United States. It was certified Silver (60,000 units sold) in the UK by the BPI on 1 December 1975 and Gold in the US on 16 June 1997, but was the band's first release not to achieve platinum status in the US. Songs such as "Hole in the Sky", and "Symptom of the Universe" became fan favourites, with the latter's chugging riff even cited as an early example of thrash metal. Black Sabbath toured in support of Sabotage with openers Kiss, but were forced to cut the tour short in November 1975, following a motorcycle accident in which Osbourne ruptured a muscle in his back.
All songs written and composed by Black Sabbath.
No. Title Length
1. "Hole in the Sky" 3:59
2. "Don't Start (Too Late)" (instrumental) 0:49
3. "Symptom of the Universe" 6:29
4. "Megalomania" 9:46
5. "The Thrill of It All" 5:56
6. "Supertzar" (instrumental) 3:44
7. "Am I Going Insane (Radio)" 4:16
8. "The Writ" 8:09
On some of the first vinyl/cassette releases (and all of the remastered versions of the album) there is a short, 23-second hidden track titled "Blow on a Jug" at the end of "The Writ". Recorded at very low volume, it features Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward goofing around in the studio.
Ozzy Osbourne – lead vocals
Tony Iommi – lead & rhythm guitar
Terry "Geezer" Butler – bass guitar (miscredited as "Tony 'Geezer' Butler" in the story of the band on the Canadian CD issue)
Bill Ward – drums
Gerald "Jezz" Woodruffe – keyboards
Will Malone – arrangements for the English Chamber Choir
Mike Butcher – co-producer / engineer
Robin Black – engineer
David Harris – tape operator and saboteur
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