Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose
By Martin Popoff (ECW)
by Craig Regala
Martin Popoff: He’s the right kinda guy. An open-eared metalhead comfortable with all sorta shrapnel littering the rock landscape. This is a fella whose budding consciousness dates to the exact moment the metal brand of heavy clawed its way out of the savage acid blues-rock birth canal. Hell, he may’ve willed the stuff to be from sheer desire. See? It’s his fault. Here our rivithead-for-life lays out damn near 350 pages of LP by LP, song by song, riff by riff, word by word attention to the band that created heavy. And then continued. I think this is the key to the book. Many of my rock-guy friends and I who love the defining surge of Sabbath had little use for the band after the first four records. We just aren’t invested in the band and the metalized hard rock they created afterwards. Popoff is. He goes through all the permutations of the post-Ozzy years: All the players, all the singers, the tours, the Stonehenge debacle, the midgets; all of it. He does it with commentary from his rivethead reality: He knows who all these fucking people are and what they’ve done because he listened to their goddamn records as they were released! No Internet research, no Wikipedia, he logged hours with this stuff as it occurred. By interviewing all the principal players and letting’m spill plenty of verbiage, you realize they were as amazed, confused, and befuddled as we were at how it all unfolded. You get a taste at how much of what happens is controlled by the management-business interests. Like, ya know, little things, like who might be in the band.
If you’re interested in the subject at hand or want a good view of what the culture was like, this’ll nail it. The many, many pictures of the band, LP covers, flyers, 8-tracks, ticket stubs, promotional badges, etc. set the time/place like words can’t. Heck, he’s even got a photo of Tommy Iommi’s hand – just the hand – and you can see just how much of the fingertips he lost.
Yes, Martin’s thoughtful enough to include a full discography. This is a man who loves lists, and list he does. If you have ANY interest in hard rock or metal, check his other books. I have a half dozen, and they’re fun. You can argue forever about “the best” this or that, or if Mach IV Deep Purple was really that good, or why Metallica’s Ride the Lightening was more a groundbreaker than Master of Puppets. Also the magazine he’s part and parcel with, Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, is metal as fuck. Way more metal than me. And I have Zep, Black Flag, and St. Vitus tattoos.