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Black Sabbath FAQ: All That's Left to Know on the First Name in Metal Paperback – May 1 2011
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About the Author
Martin Popoff is one of rock s most prolific writers. This is his 50th book. Previous books have included studies of Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest you get the picture! As a journalist, he has written for a number of diverse magazines including Record Collector, Goldmine, Guitar World, Metal Hammer and a BBC TV programme on metal. He lives in Toronto
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Popoff's love of his subject matter sets him apart from many metal writers. It's evident off the bat here as he writes in the Foreword about pounding his psyche with "We Sold Our Soul For Rock n Roll" over a weekend doing a junior high school project. How many thousands of kids have that same story? "We Sold Our Soul," with its cheesy coffin photo, was a gateway drug for many. "Iron Man," "Paranoid," "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", "Snowblind" -- all in one package. I forgot about that comp. before reading this, but, if you grew up with metal and lived it, Popoff's opening shot rings profoundly true.
So it is with the remainder of this book. There is plenty of coverage of things you might expect, but there is TON of stuff that a Sabbath fan will read and say "you know, that's a good question -- I never really thought about it, but . . ." He has short chapters on the Van Halen tour (where Van Halen allegedly blew BS off the stage consistently), Sandy Pearlman (think Kim Fowley in metal with a college degree), Geezer Butler's peace loving nature and war weary lyrics, the birth of doom metal, and he treats later albums (i.e., wihtout famous singers) with respect -- though he takes off the gloves where needed. ("Forbidden?" Yikes. I saw that tour, with Motorhead opening. Motorhead just returned to a three piece. Phil Campbell was a dervish, playing all the guitar parts, showing he could handle the new material on "Sacrifice." Sabbath took the stage and stood there. Neil Murray proved it was a good year for qualuudes. Cozy Powell put the "dull" back in "thud." Popoff doesn't pull any punches either.)
Anyway, those are just a few of the gems waiting to be unearthed in this tome. Popoff must have a Yngwie-sized case of carpal tunnel. I don't know how he does it. He must need a transcriber. He definitely needs a publicist because he needs to be widely known. You generally can't go wrong with his stuff. This one is no exception.
Martin Popoff has been prolific and has now written a new book on Black Sabbath. You know this is not his first book on the band because he tells you so and even somewhat admits that the other book would be a better starting point for fans of the Sabs. Then again, he would say that given how the reader has presumably already purchased this one, wouldn't he?
So, what about the FAQ?
Well, firstly, it is not a FAQ. After all, how many people out there are frequently posing the question, 'at which position did Cross Purposes chart in Switzerland?' The 400 pages are better described as a compilation of information and trivia of which there is quite a bit. There is so much of it that it has all been mishmashed, mixed and moulded, for the most part, in no chronological order from start to finish. Much of it is interesting, most of it for diehards and all, but personally - yes this is the subjective part - I was never a big Black Sabbath-with-Ozzy fan. Only the Dio period interests me, but that is just me. And speaking of just me, all preconceived notions and prejudice aside, listen to Black Sabbath's debut and tell me those boys weren't listening to Led Zeppelin 1/Yardbirds and Blue Cheer. Not that revolutionary, - a notion even affirmed by the band's first manager early on in the book - never mind assigning them the title of inventors of heavy metal as on page seventeen.
Back to the book and Popoff who has toned his logopathy and run-on sentences down somehow and managed to write something comprehensible. That is a plus for the book, as so much of this information is not easily accessible elsewhere. His - and this criticism applies to all reviewers nowadays - unbridled positivity regarding everything and anything is mostly intact though and made it over for his critic job.
Yet, much is as much a mystery after reading the book as it was before. So whose fault was the clash of Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult? Why did Ozzy/Dio really leave (or were they booted out?) and what about Bill Ward's disappearance? Don't look for answers here. As noted, most reviewers are all cozy with the musicians it seems - or try to be.
400 pages does get one loads of information. For example (who knew?) Geezer is Irish.
*This book was sent to me compliments of the author or publisher
What this is is a collection of chapters that are more like articles focusing on particular subjects related to the band. There is the story of the formation of their first record label and how they got signed, the creation of the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath cover artwork, the controversy of the Black and Blue tour, etc. This is a book for Black Sabbath nerds, by a Black Sabbath nerd. It is not for everyone. For me, I enjoyed every page of it.
Martin Popoff is very knowledgeable and very opinionated. I disagree with him strongly on some points (really dude, how can you not LOVE "Dehumanizer"?), but it is the disagreement of true music fans who can argue to death about the production merits of certain albums but in the end both love the band and their music.
The end of the book goes back in to "biography" mode as the Heaven and Hell band is covered extensively (this all happened after Doom Let Loose was written), so the two books together give a complete story of Black Sabbath before their reunion with Ozzy for the "13" album. I advise anyone with a deep love for Black Sabbath to grab this before it goes out of print like Doom Let Loose did. If you are just looking for the basic story, there are 30 other books to choose from, but this isn't it. 5 stars.
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