Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "Warning," from Black Sabbath (1970)

And we close our journey through Sabbath’s debut album out with the second cover, “Warning,” originally performed by the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation.

Given what I’ve said about Sabbath’s rhythm section through the previous pieces in this series, “Warning” provides them with a great opportunity. The absolute coolest thing about the original version of this song is how the bass and drums lock together in a rumble of thunder. Bill Ward and Geezer Butler follow through on that, but there’s a little more inflection on what they do that makes it sound kind of, for lack of a better word, “bendy.”

That brings me to Ozzy’s vocal performance, which in my opinion is miles better than the original vocalist. I think at times the original vocalist pushes it and reaches to far trying to sound soulful. Ozzy stays right in his pocket, but he’s far more expressive within his range. It has a truer and more honest blues feel to me.

“Warning” is also where Tony Iommi really shows off on this album. He’s given us heavy evil riffs and soulful licks, but he absolutely shreds the blues licks on this track. The spotlight is fully his for much of the song, and he makes the most of it, showing us that he’s in no way, shape or form just about big, crushing power chords. It may not have the technical prowess of metal guys that came after him, but there’s fantastic feel and expressiveness in these licks, and I’ve always loved the shift about halfway through the song to that new rhythm and riff. The last half of the song is just a pure excuse for Iommi to work out his blues fetish, and we’re happy to go along for the ride.

It’s a great way to end the album and the first leg of our track-by-track journey. On to the band’s most popular record.

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