Tony Iommi, Nostalgia
Just finished reading Tony Iommi's book, Iron Man. On my headphones, "Bible Black" by Heaven & Hell, the monicker used by the DIO fronted Sabbath Line-up, is blaring. I haven't listened to any of Heaven & Hell's original tunes, really. But the book got me visiting and revisiting Sabbath stuff. A lot of the post Ozzy/Dio/ Gillan stuff I hadn't heard, with Tony Martin as vocalist and Cozy Powell on drums. Yesterday I heard some tracks off of Forbidden for the first time, which was produced by Ernie C from Body Count, with Ice-T rapping on The Illusion of Power, the album opener. Actually think that's a very cool track, a classic Iommi riff if I've ever heard one.
About the book, I was surprised a bit by the tone. It's very informal, like a chat. The book, as the title says, is as told to TJ Lammers, so I suppose that is to be expected. It almost feels like they had a chat and then it was transcribed. I liked it for the most part but sometimes, and maybe it's because he's British, I found the humour odd. Or he seemed insecure. Now here I need to get into the fact that Tony Iommi is someone I've admired since I was a kid, but I've never known anything about. To me he was a shadowy figure in a band that when I first got into them or saw pictures of them, scared the shit out of me. So, to read about someone like that letting you in on all his insecurities, triumphs, fears, even now that I'm 51, is kind of myth breaking, isn't it? Well, that doesn't really matter, it's just perception.
So, back to the music. Going through the book, I wish it talked a lot more about the songs, but then you realize that Iommi is this gifted riffer who came up with all this great music. Those songs were rounded out in Sabbath by Geezer's lyrics, Ozzy's vocals and then Dio etc.
To me it's incredible how much of an influence Tony has been on my guitar playing, composition wise. In my heavy songs, I tend to write sabbathy riffs. Or so it seems to people. There are songs that are definitely a direct line from Black Sabbath to my band, JLS Jodio Loco Sucio. I wrote this song called Enemigo de la Sociedad in 1995 which is basically the riff from "Electric Funeral" from the Paranoid album. What's funny about that, is that just before the rehearsal where I came up with that song, I had been traveling to a town in the Dominican Republic to the east of Santo Domingo where I lived, called La Romana. There and back was around a 5 or 6 hour trip, including doing what I had to do when I got there. The only music I had with me happened to be a tape of Paranoid which I had playing non stop on my pickup truck's tape deck which had auto-reverse, so it would just loop. Don't know how many times I heard it in that time.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite albums was Ozzy's Speak of the Devil consisting solely of Black Sabbath songs, with Brad Gillis on guitar. Those riffs are deep in my subconcious. I remember at first I used to write more in a chugging style like 80's metal when I began playing guitar, but little by little I got into writing riffs that plodded along, like impending doom.
The book got me revisiting old Sabbath too. Mob Rules was my real introduction when I was a kid. It was the second album with DIO. I loved it. I was also into songs from the previous one, Heaven and Hell which a friend had put on a tape. "Children of the Sea" was a standout track (just happens to be playing on my headphones right now from Heaven & Hell's set at Wacken).
In Iron Man, Tony tells lots of good little stories from touring, recording etc.( and a whole lot about his drug use. no wonder they wrote Snowblind!) And it's made me interested in checking out those albums I missed even though I'm not too keen on Tony Martin's vocals or lyrics. I've also got to check out the work with Glenn Hughes. Tony put out a solo album IOMMI with guest vocalists which has a few songs that are really killer. I haven't listened to that in a while either.
When Black Sabbath's album 13 came out, I listened to it on a daily basis, sometimes even twice. I would use it to work out in the gym. I must say that I missed Bill Ward drumming on it. I like Brad Wilk but he, in my opinion, didn't have the flow or groove that Ward would have brought to it. It's still a kick ass album.
While reading the book and the stories about all the musicians mentioned in it, I kept thinking about the fact that I've never seen for the most part, any of the great bands that really influenced me. Aside from Judas Priest and Scorpions in 1984 (the latter I saw again at Monsters of Rock in Zaragoza in 2006), I've never seen Ozzy, Dio, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, etc etc etc Too late now.
Metallica, my really big band which I've followed since I first heard "Seek and Destroy" in late 84 and then got heavily into the Ride the Lightning album, I only got round to seeing them in 2009. Saw them twice in the span of a week. At Sonisphere in Barcelona and then a week later in Madrid. (Or was it the other way around).
I find that recently I've started listening to a lot of the music that I listened to when I first got into metal. I mean, there are records that I've always listened to a lot over the years, but I find myself going back to those first ones I got as a kid. Back in Black, Mob Rules, British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, Metal Health,... Accept, W.A.S.P., Kiss, Ratt, Motley Crue, etc etc
I remember when Rick Rubin worked with Metallica on Death Magnetic, and then with Black Sabbath on 13. He told them to listen to the music that first got them into music, and to listen to their old stuff. In a way that's what I've been trying to pick up on. That fever I felt when I was 14, 15 and dying to play a Les Paul through a Marshall stack.