If ever there’s been a soundtrack for the acid trip, it’s probably the third song from Paranoid – “Planet Caravan.” When Pantera covered it for their Far Beyond Driven album, they took that feel even further, creating a trippy animated video that suited the song well. As much as I liked Dimebag’s performance on that version, though, the original still rules.
Though we’d heard psychedelic sounds on the band’s first album, “Planet Caravan” was the first hint of it that we heard on Paranoid, but it’s a full dose.
It opens with a soft, clean guitar from Tony Iommi, and Bill Ward comes, popping quietly on bongos, an interesting percussion choice from the pounding power of the first two tracks. Again, it’s Geezer Butler’s plodding bass line that pulls it all together.
Ozzy’s vocals, though, are the real star of the first half of the show. They warble and vibrate, giving the song a very trippy, spacey feel that’s appropriate for the subject matter, floating through space with a lover.
In the latter half, Iommi comes in to steal the show, though, sending the song out with an extended solo with a lot of jazz influence. It might be one of Iommi’s finest moments.
“Planet Caravan” remains to this day a bit jarring in the early Sabbath catalog, so much so that the band wondered if they should even include it on the record. I, for one, am glad they did.