Black Sabbath are one of the most outrageous yet longest-lived bands in the history of rock 'n' roll. This informative, idiosyncratic and beguiling book paints a vivid picture of their colourful early history - interwoven with all the most crucial news stories of the time: from Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and the space programme. Where Rat Salad diverges from routes taken by most rock biographies, however, is in its detailed analysis of the band's first six albums. These chapters - think Ian MacDonald's Revolution in the Head meets Spinal Tap - occupy about half the book and persuasively explain the appeal of the music, its compositional artistry and its frequently audacious inventiveness. Original and passionate, "Rat Salad" embraces a remarkably diverse cast of characters - from Ozzy Osbourne himself and the other members of the band through to Edith Sitwell, Breugel the Elder, John Milton and Doris Day. The author's hand looms large in the piece. We see him both as a boy and man - from schoolboy ingenue to inveterate devotee - as he looks back at a life populated with love, sex, drugs and death played out against a backdrop of crucifixes and power chords.
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(198mm x 129mm x 15mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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US Kirkus Review »
Remember when Ozzy Osbourne was a pretty good metalhead, not a henpecked reality-show goofball? Paul Wilkinson does.Fronted by the charismatic Osbourne, Black Sabbath was one of the first successful purveyors of heavy metal. Although Sabbath later devolved into a rock-'n'-roll parody (can you say Spinal Tap?), during its early years the U.K. four-man band could destroy your speakers with as much aplomb as any group of the era save Led Zeppelin. In his engaging debut, Brit scribe/musician Wilkinson takes a loving look at the group's first six albums: Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage. He makes a convincing case that these are indeed classics with in-depth, often hilarious dissection of the records that alternate with chapters featuring Sabbath history, British history and personal history. It's risky for an author to work himself into a biography such as this, but Wilkinson is a charmer, armed with anecdotes galore (e.g., the night his 15-year-old babysitter attempted to seduce him). As the author is also a guitarist, it makes sense that he gives many props to Tony Iommi, "often hailed as the greatest ever composer of guitar riffs." Non-musicians may find Wilkinson's song-by-song analysis a tad on the geeky side, but he remedies that (sort of) by including a glossary of "all the fancy technical nomenclature used in this book." (Betcha didn't know the end of "War Pigs" provides an example of accelerando.) At times, the book buckles under the weight of minutiae: Do we really need to know Sabbath's entire tour schedule from April 1970? We trust the author will avoid this rookie mistake in the future.Reads like an enthusiastic (often fun, but rambling) 200-page college newspaper article. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Paul Wilkinson
Paul Wilkinson was raised in the Peak District and graduated with a degree in Psychology in 1983. Since then, he has worked extensively in the arts and entertainment industry and currently manages an arts centre in east London, close to where he lives. He has played guitar and sung in a number of failed pop outfits: most notably, inept Beatles-copyists The Originals, and close-harmony, cabaret joke-band The Stallions of Love. He has been a fan of Black Sabbath for over thirty years. Rat Salad is his first book.