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Music / Paranoid (Album)

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Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord, yeah!

Paranoid is the second studio album by Black Sabbath, released in 1970.

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 '70s, however, it was largely panned by critics, and radio stations were frightened or appalled by the loud sounds and Satanic imagery. It has since been Vindicated by History as one of the important albums in rock history, especially for the heavy metal genre, and is best known for the songs "Iron Man", "War Pigs" and the Title Track.

An episode in the documentary series Classic Albums was devoted to the creative process behind the making of this album.


Side One

  1. "War Pigs" (7:55)
  2. "Paranoid" (2:50)
  3. "Planet Caravan" (4:30)
  4. "Iron Man" (6:00)

Side Two

  1. "Electric Funeral" (4:50)
  2. "Hand of Doom" (7:10)
  3. "Rat Salad" (2:30)
  4. "Fairies Wear Boots" (6:15)

Principal Members:

  • Geezer Butler - Bass
  • Tony Iommi - Guitar, flute
  • Ozzy Osbourne - Lead vocals
  • Bill Ward - Drums, congas

Tropes of Doom:

  • 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.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • "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. However, the original cover, a distorted picture of a man with a sword and shield jumping from behind a tree, was kept. This led to Creator Backlash, since the band wasn't happy with the photo in the first place.
  • 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"
  • Cruel Twist Ending: "Iron Man", in which a twist of fate leads the titular character to become the Omnicidal Maniac he was trying to stop.
  • Despair Event Horizon: "Paranoid:"
    Think I'll lose my mind if I don't find something to pacify
    Can 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!
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The subject of three tracks. Causes include nuclear war ("Electric Funeral"), terrorism and/or political corruption ("War Pigs"), and time-travelers gone insane ("Iron Man").
  • Epic Rocking: Half the songs on the album are six minutes or longer.
  • Hated by All: The titular character of "Iron Man". The lyrics state that "nobody wants him" and "nobody helps him", which leads to his Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.
  • 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 groundbreaking 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, but 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.
  • 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 masses
    Just like witches at black masses
    • Though this is due to the song being re-written from its original "Walpurgis," where the opening line was:
    Witches gathered at black masses, bodies burning in red ashes.
  • 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 — because it means more souls for Mr. Scratch.
  • Stable Time Loop: "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 him into a large metallic monster. 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, he destroys the world and causes the apocalypse he saw in his vision of the future.
  • 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.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: "Iron Man" time travels to stop an Omnicidal Maniac, then becomes that maniac.
  • 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 Bad 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

And as you hear these words telling you now of my state
I tell you to enjoy life; I wish I could, but it's too late

Alternative Title(s): Paranoid