Paranoid is the second studio album by Black Sabbath, released in 1970. It's best known for the songs: "Iron Man," "Paranoid," and "War Pigs." The album is generally considered to be one of the band's greatest and is often (though not always) considered to be the first Heavy Metal album. Back in the early seventies, however, it was largely panned by critics and radio stations were too scared or appalled by the loud sounds and satanic imagery. It has been Vindicated by History as one of the important albums in rock history, especially for the heavy metal genre.
An episode in the documentary series Classic Albums was devoted to the creative process behind the making of this album. The album was listed at #131 in Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and Time Magazine included the record in their TIME All-Time 100 Albums.
- "War Pigs" (7:55)
- "Paranoid" (2:50)
- "Planet Caravan" (4:30)
- "Iron Man" (6:00)
- "Electric Funeral" (4:50)
- "Hand of Doom" (7:10)
- "Rat Salad" (2:30)
- "Fairies Wear Boots" (6:15)
- Geezer Butler - Bass
- Tony Iommi - Guitar, flute
- Ozzy Osbourne - Lead vocals
- Bill Ward - Drums, congas
Tropes of Doom:
- 0% Approval Rating: The titular character of "Iron Man". The lyrics state that "nobody wants him" and "nobody helps him".
- After the End: "Iron Man" finds out the world is destroyed in an apocalyptic event. "Electric Funeral" is also about Earth after post-nuclear events.
- Album Filler: Believe it or not, but "Paranoid" was actually a quick filler song created after most of the album had been finished.
- "War Pigs" was originally called "Walpurgis" and was based on the occult instead of warfare. It was changed due to being too Satanic. Rough demos and bootlegs reveal the original lyrics to reference bodies being burned to ash, rats being eaten, priests being burned alive, churches being destroyed, and Satan himself leading the Black Mass. "War Pigs" is one of the greatest anti-war songs ever, but a proper studio recording of "Walpurgis" could have been the greatest song about the occult.
- The album was originally supposed to be called War Pigs, but the record company was afraid of protests by supporters of The Vietnam War (which the UK wasn't involved in, but officially supported at the time) and had the title changed. The original cover, a distorted picture of a man with a sword and shield jumping from behind a tree, was kept however.
- Breather Episode: The Space Rock influenced "Planet Caravan" is definitely this, what with the warped vocals and soft strumming.
- Cloudcuckoolander: "Paranoid:""People think I'm insane, because I am frowning all the time"
- Contemptible Cover: Described by Ozzy as: "A bloke dressed as a pig with a sword in his hand" (the heavy motion blur is due to the fact that he was jumping from behind a tree when the picture was taken). According to Geezer Butler, "The cover was bad enough when the album was going to be ''War Pigs,'' but when it was ''Paranoid'' it didn't even make sense."
- Despair Event Horizon: "Paranoid:"Think I'll lose my mind if I don't find something to pacifyCan you help me, occupy my brain?
- Drugs Are Bad: "Hand of Doom." It was apparently inspired by returning soldiers from the Vietnam War self medicating what we now call PTSD with heroin, with predictably disastrous results.
- Electronic Speech Impediment: "Iron Man." For the full effect, Ozzy sang the line in front of a running metal fan.I... AM... IRON... MAN!
- Epic Rocking: Half the songs on the album are six minutes or longer.
- Hell Is That Noise: Those huge ominous foot steps at the start of "Iron Man," which resulted in the song's name when someone commented that the intro sounded like "a big iron bloke" walking.
- Humans Are Bastards: A huge theme on most of the tracks note .
- Instrumentals: "Rat Salad."
- Last Note Nightmare: The last chords of "War Pigs" was probably originally intended to trick listeners into thinking their record player had suddenly jumped from 33 rpm to 45 rpm of its own accord somehow. The original "basement tape" version, though, has the opposite — it slows down.
- Mushroom Samba: "Fairies Wear Boots:" The fairies are heavily implied to be a drug induced hallucination.
- New Sound Album: It can't be overstated enough how important and ground breaking this album was at the time. The intro to "Iron Man" is often cited as the first death growl, "Paranoid" is the first true speed metal song, and "War Pigs" is hailed as the first political metal song. "Electric Funeral" was also heavily influential towards stoner and doom metal, however the two genres would actually take more influence from "Sweet Leaf" and "Into the Void," respectively, which came from the album directly after Paranoid.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Paranoid" (which appears as a track, but the line itself doesn't appear in the song itself), "Hand of Doom."
- One-Word Title: "Paranoid."
- Our Fairies Are Different: "Fairies Wear Boots."
- Properly Paranoid: "Paranoid" seems like this from the title, however the lyrics can be interpreted as coming from a more morose individual than a paranoid one.
- Protest Song: The album strongly condemns warfare politics, without naming names, but this makes the songs all the more timeless.
- Psychedelic Rock: "Planet Caravan."
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:I! AM! IRON MAN!
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Much of the anti-war themes were inspired by The Vietnam War. "Electric Funeral" is directly influenced by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the title for "Fairies Wear Boots" was inspired from an incident with a group of Nazi skinheads.
- Refrain from Assuming: "Iron Man" has nothing to do with the Marvel Comics superhero. The song's name was originally going to be "Iron Bloke," because upon hearing the now famous guitar distortion bit at the start, someone commented that it sounded like a big iron bloke walking down the street. However, it's easily applied either way, right down to: "Or if he moves will he fall?" This hasn't stopped the song from being embraced by Marvel — Ultimate Marvel Tony Stark named himself after the song, it is used in the trailers for the Iron Man films, and in the first Iron Man, the credits are to an instrumental version of "Iron Man," while the novelization states that Tony Stark heard the song inside his helmet, and after the press names him Iron Man even mimics Ozzy's intro.
- Rhyming with Itself: The first verse of "War Pigs" (Needless to say, as it's Ozzy singing, they pull it off):Generals gathered in their massesJust like witches at black masses
Witches gathered at black masses, bodies burning in red ashes.
- Though this is due to the song being re-written from its original "Walpurgis," where the opening line was:
- Rule of Three: Three images of soldiers are seen on the album cover.
- Satan: Mentioned in "War Pigs" as the only one pleased with the wars created by the military.
- Stable Time Loop: The song "Iron Man" is about a person who travels through time "for the future of mankind" only to find that the world is destroyed in an apocalyptic event. Deciding to return to his present to warn the people of the coming disaster, he gets "trapped in a magnetic field" which turns his skin into metal. Thus, when he warns the people of the present, they are frightened by his appearance and too afraid to listen to him. Then, out of frustration that no one heeds his warnings about the forthcoming apocalypse, he causes the apocalypse.
- Stock Sound Effects: The air sirens at the start of "War Pigs."
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Planet Caravan" is a sweet love song amidst all the heavy songs about war and Satan.
- Three Chords and the Truth: "Paranoid."
- Time Travel: "Iron Man" does this.
- War Is Hell: A huge theme. The original album title was supposed to be War Pigs, after the title track, which explains the soldiers on the album cover — Ozzy commented that he hated the cover after the title change, since the pink outfit was meant to be the colour of the war pigs, but now they just looked like "gay fencers." Apart from "War Pigs," there is also "Electric Funeral" about nuclear war, and "Hand Of Doom" which was inspired by soldiers returning from the Vietnam War and getting hooked on drugs to drown their sorrows.
- Wham Line: In "Iron Man" (See below for context):Heavy boots of lead fills his victims full of dread / Running as fast as they can, Iron Man lives again!
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The song "Iron Man" tells a story of someone who went through time, saw a horrible future, and went back in time to warn mankind but when he returned, he was turned to steel, leading to everyone ignoring him or rejecting him outright, which causes the titular character to become vengeful and kill the people he once tried to save.
- You Have to Believe Me!: The narrator's imploration in "Fairies Wear Boots":Yeah fairies wear boots, and you gotta believe me
Yeah, I saw it, I saw it I tell you no lies
Yeah Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
I saw it I saw it with my own two eyes