Round about the time the piano opens “Changes,” we start wondering what is going on. Prior to this moment (or, perhaps, prior to “The Straightener”), Black Sabbath was the heaviest band in the entire world. There was no band louder or lower than Sabbath. And then we get a piano ballad backed with a fucking mellotron. Who are they? Zeppelin?!?!
“Changes” is hardly the only deviation from the form. And these deviations provoke an eternal quandary among both music fans and critics: is it better for a band to do what they do better than anyone else or is it better for them to attempt to reach beyond that, and grow artistically?
My own personal answer to this question is almost always the latter – I often rate records in part based upon how much I feel the band has taken risks since the last time out. On the other hand, I recognize that there are some bands that are just better at doing their one thing, even if that can be boring over the course of an entire career.
Is Sabbath one of these bands? I gotta say, I don’t love “Changes” like a lot of people seem to. (I might like it more without the mellotron, or with something musically interesting happening in it.) And I don’t love “FX.” (Who do they think they are? Hendrix?!?!) But the other deviations from the style work much better for me and expand the sound in ways I can enjoy.
This is a flawed record. There is at least one track that is complete and utter filler (“FX”) and a ballad that feels like it belongs on an Ozzy solo record or something rather than a Sabbath record, but the rest of the music is either top notch Sabbath or worthwhile listening to despite its deviation from the form.
- “Wheels of Confusion/The Straightener” 8:02
- “Tomorrow’s Dream” 3:12
- “Changes” 4:45
- “FX” (Instrumental) 1:44
- “Supernaut” 4:50
- “Snowblind” 5:33
- “Cornucopia” 3:55
- “Laguna Sunrise” (Instrumental) 2:56
- “St. Vitus Dance” 2:30
- “Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes” 5:53