Black Sabbath – Live in Paris 1970 (DVD)

Some time ago, a reader hepped me to the existence of a Black Sabbath bootleg DVD, Live in Paris 1970. The date was December 20, the venue was the Olympia Theater, and the footage was broadcast on British TV in two parts. People have ripped this footage to YouTube. These rips vary in quality, coming from VHS and DVD. “burtonbcell1″ graciously ripped the DVD in HD. This is the best rip I’ve seen of the footage. I present it below in its entirety, with commentary. This is hands down one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and I wasn’t even there. Black Sabbath as a hungry, young band – it doesn’t get much better than this.

— Cosmo Lee

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00. Intro

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In two parts. First, the band goofs off before the show. Then it sets up its gear. If the video had been shot today, it would have been edited much more actively. Instead, we get unadorned shots and few cuts. It is refreshing to see Black Sabbath presented so plainly.

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01. Paranoid

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“Thank you, good evening, we’re Black Sabbath, thank you!”

A basic rule for up-and-coming bands: tell the crowd the name of your band. This is important, especially in 1970, when there is no Internet to find out who blew your socks off last night. You remember some details, though. The guitarist was left-handed. Some geezer punished the hell out of his P-Bass. Those two wore crosses around their necks. The singer was a babyfaced wildman. And the whole band really went for it. Come payday, you’ll wander down to the record store to look for their new LP, Paranoid.

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02. Hand of Doom

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This song is all Geezer, except for Bill Ward’s funky-as-a-Cypress-Hill-sample entrance, and at 3:45, when the two start chopping with ruthless precision. Ozzy’s having trouble hitting the high notes. Why does he look away from the microphone between lines? Maybe he’s as enthralled by Geezer as we are. Ozzy may be babyfaced, but his skin is awful. Ward’s shirt leaves me literally starry-eyed. This is the closest most of us will ever get to Sabbath.

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03. Rat Salad

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Straight into “Rat Salad”, just like on Paranoid. Bill Ward: holy shit! His fills could shoot down planes. You can see the homemade thimbles on Tony Iommi’s right hand. I imagine that would be like playing with bandages permanently welded on. Condoms for the fingertips, loss of all feeling. Yet Iommi wrote the metal playbook with those. We are truly not worthy.

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04. Iron Man

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That’s one way, I guess, of playing “Iron Man” – lead the crowd in a daft clap-along at its start. Did they know what they were getting into? When Iommi’s bend of doom tolled, did they think, “Wait, this isn’t a happy song”? When Ward and Butler kicked the door down, did they think, “This is one of the most amazing rhythm sections ever”? Some great camera work is going on.

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05. Black Sabbath

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You haven’t heard “Black Sabbath” until you’ve heard it like this. Tony Iommi sketches out a classical-flavored intro, which sets the table for BAM! A power chord, in every sense of the term, and a great beast lumbering into motion. The band really puts its back into this one. Ozzy delivers a rousing performance and a hell of a freakout. Stay ’til the end for a little backstage footage.

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06. N.I.B.

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I love it when bands reach a point live where they feel invincible. They know it, the crowd knows it, and the show narrows in scope like tunnel vision. Ancillary things – cognizance of crowd members, concern over technical details – fall away. The show becomes light, heat, and sound. Every band worth its salt has its own stories about such experiences. Maybe Ozzy, post-years of, well, being Ozzy, remembers that in 1970, his band played Paris, and that during “N.I.B.”, the whole room lost its mind. From 2:36 to 2:46 are ten of the most magical seconds ever committed to videotape. Ozzy whips his hair around, Ward rat-a-tat-tats with verve, and the bass drum vibrates the truth: SABBATH, SABBATH, SABBATH.

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07. Behind the Wall of Sleep

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Black Sabbath may be the funkiest band of white boys ever. Check out that drum break at 3:40! This live version of “Behind the Wall of Sleep” is more driving and aggressive than its recorded version. Maybe it’s how this show is EQ’ed, but Ward and Butler have been carrying the day here, so much so that when Iommi solos, the weight doesn’t let up. With a rhythm section like that, who needs a second guitar?

Also note how the crowd is not a codified hessian horde, but a bunch of perfectly normal-looking Parisians.

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08. War Pigs

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Stupendous. The doom is doomier, the rock is more rocking, and a song zooms from overplay back into a thrilling, throbbing present. Watch Bill Ward’s eyes. He is so in the present. He’s looking at Iommi for cues, because guess what? The band has no monitors. One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, recorded or otherwise, and the band has no monitors. The Parisians go nuts. I agree.

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09. Fairies Wear Boots

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The idea of sitting down to watch Black Sabbath destroy – it’s ludicrous. But that’s what you’re doing right now. We have the best seats in the house. We’re next to Tony Iommi’s headstock, practically tickled by his uncut strings. We’re looking up at Bill Ward’s right hand as it’s chopping down trees. We’re mere feet in front of Geezer Butler laying down the law. And we’re within spitting distance of Ozzy. No jokes are in sight. He is just another up-and-coming singer, and this is just another show for his band.

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