Technical Ecstasy

Technical Ecstasy is the seventh studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, produced by guitarist Tony Iommi and released in September 1976. The album was certified Gold on 19 June 1997[2] and peaked at number 51 on the Billboard 200 Album chart.[3]

Technical Ecstasy
Black-Sabbath-Technical-Ecstasy
Studio album by
Released25 September 1976
RecordedJune 1976
StudioCriteria Studios, Miami, Florida[1]
GenreHeavy metal
Length40:35
LabelVertigo
ProducerBlack Sabbath
Black Sabbath chronology
Sabotage
(1975)
Technical Ecstasy
(1976)
Never Say Die!
(1978)

Recording

After frustrating legal battles that accompanied the recording of 1975's Sabotage, Sabbath chose Miami's Criteria Studios for the making of Technical Ecstasy, which continued the band's separation from the doom and darkness that had been a trademark of their earlier albums. "Some people may have heard the band in 1970," noted Iommi, "and be thinking, 'Oh no, not them again!' But if they heard us now, they probably might like us."[4]

In the July 2001 issue of Guitar World, Dan Epstein wrote, "The sessions proved extremely relaxing for everyone except Iommi, who was left to oversee the production while the others sunned themselves on the beach." Iommi explained to the same magazine in 1992, "We recorded the album in Miami, and nobody would take responsibility for the production. No one wanted to bring in an outside person for help, and no one wanted the whole band to produce it. So they left it all to me!"

In the liner notes to the band's 1998 live album Reunion, Phil Alexander writes that, while the band struggled to finish the album, "rock had spawned a new set of iconoclasts as the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned… Suddenly Sabbath found themselves both unsure of their musical direction and labeled as has-beens." "It's not like now: If you're a heavy metal band, you put out a heavy metal album," Butler explained to Uncut in 2014. "Back then, you had to at least try to be modern and keep up. Punk was massive then and we felt that our time had come and gone."

To make matters worse for the band, manager Don Arden began spending more of his time focusing on another of his acts, ELO, whose 1975 album Face The Music was their first to make the US top ten. Iommi's determination to move Sabbath in a new direction was misguided according to some, with Mick Wall noting in the 2013 book Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe that while future soft rock million-sellers Hotel California and Rumours were just around the corner, "to try and force that sound on Black Sabbath was like trying to put lamb's wool on a suit of armour. It just didn't work, pleasing nobody."

In his autobiography I Am Ozzy, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne admitted he had begun to consider leaving the band during this time: "I'd even had a T-shirt made with 'Blizzard of Ozz' written on the front. Meanwhile, in the studio, Tony (Iommi) was always saying, 'We've gotta sound like Foreigner', or 'We've gotta sound like Queen.' But I thought it was strange that the bands we'd once influenced were now influencing us." Osbourne also wrote that the cost of recording in Florida "was astronomical" and that he'd "lost the plot with the booze and the drugs" during the recording of Technical Ecstasy, eventually checking himself into the Stafford County Asylum on his return to England.

"That was the beginning of the end, that one", bassist Geezer Butler confessed to Guitar World in 2001. "We were managing ourselves because we couldn't trust anybody. Everybody was trying to rip us off, including the lawyers we'd hired to get us out of our legal mess. It was really just getting to us around then, and we didn't know what we were doing. And obviously, the music was suffering; you could just feel the whole thing falling apart." Osbourne briefly left following the Technical Ecstasy Tour – and, although he would eventually return for the follow-up Never Say Die!, the band temporarily replaced him with former Savoy Brown vocalist Dave Walker. The band wrote a handful of songs with Walker, and performed an early version of what would become "Junior's Eyes" on the BBC programme Look Hear with him.

While the band were recording the album, The Eagles were recording Hotel California in an adjacent studio at Criteria Studios in Miami. "Before we could start recording we had to scrape all the cocaine out of the mixing board," Geezer divulged to Uncut in 2014. "I think they'd left about a pound of cocaine in the board." The Eagles were forced to stop recording on numerous occasions because Sabbath were too loud and the sound was coming through the wall.[5]

Artwork

The cover art was designed by Hipgnosis. Osbourne once described it as "two robots screwing on an escalator".[6] Hipgnosis' Storm Thorgerson, who had been assisted by graphic designer George Hardie, discussed the cover with Zoom magazine in 1979:[7] "We're very fond of that cover. From the title of the piece, Technical Ecstasy, I thought of something ecstatic rather than something technical, and I immediately thought of ecstasy in sexual terms: some sort of mechanical copulation, which would be tricky to do. I then thought of ecstasy as falling in love, perhaps during a brief encounter on an escalator – and, since it was 'technical', I thought of two robots ... It's really quite simple – he's just done curves for the female and hard, angular, macho lines for the male. It's really quite sexist, actually – stereotyped. Anyway, it's love at first sight, but I felt robots wouldn't do it like humans would do it, so instead they're squirting lubricating fluid at one another." The UK release had a two-sided insert of lyrics and credits.

Composition and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic2/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[9]
The Daily VaultB+[10]

Technical Ecstasy's lyrics dealt with a variety of topics. Tony Iommi's autobiography Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath reveals that "Dirty Women" was about "all these hookers" Butler had seen around Florida. "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)" is about "a transvestite who becomes President of the United States," Butler told biographer Mick Wall in 2013, "because America was such a misogynistic society at the time." The music itself was seldom dark, as the band continued experimenting with keyboards and synthesizers, especially on the orchestrated ballad "She's Gone".

The album received mixed reviews, with Phil Alexander writing in 1998, "While today hardcore Sabs fans defend some of the bold steps taken on Technical Ecstasy, it was a confused offering which still hit Number 13 in the UK but limped into the US charts at 52." In 2001, Guitar World was less kind, calling it perhaps the "least-loved effort of the original lineup" with the band "trying to stretch its sound in several different directions, none of them exceptionally successful." It deemed "Rock 'N' Roll Doctor" "a bad Kiss imitation" while eschewing "It's Alright" as "a sub-par Paul McCartney-style pop ballad." In 2013 Mojo magazine opined, "Technical Ecstasy is the sound of Sabbath trying to make a grown-up, radio-friendly rock record and, in some parts, it works ... Mostly, however, it doesn't with tracks like 'Back Street Kids', 'Rock 'N' Roll Doctor' and 'Dirty Women' resorting to clichéd and ill-fitting rock moves." Greg Prato of AllMusic agrees "it was not on par with Sabbath's exceptional first five releases," but praises "Dirty Women", the "funky" "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)" and the "raging opener" "Back Street Kids".

The ballad "It's Alright" was written and sung by drummer Bill Ward. Initially reluctant to sing the song for fear of offending Osbourne, he was encouraged by the band to do it.[5] In his autobiography, Osbourne praises the performance, enthusing, "He's got a great voice, Bill, and I was more than happy for him to do the honours." It was released as a single because, said Iommi, "We want to break out as far as we can… so we've decided to hit the singles market."[11] It has since been covered live by Guns N' Roses, and was included on their Live Era '87–'93 album. It was also featured in the 2010 film It's Kind of a Funny Story.

In 1992, Iommi admitted to Guitar World: "Black Sabbath fans generally don't like much of Technical Ecstasy. It was really a no-win situation for us. If we had stayed the same, people would have said we were still doing the same old stuff. So we tried to get a little more technical, and it just didn’t work out very well."

During the subsequent 1977 European tour in support of Technical Ecstasy, the band was supported by AC/DC.[5] The relationship between bassist Geezer Butler and AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young was quite tense.[5] Guitarist Tony Iommi recalls the atmosphere between the two being "heavy" and that the pair did not get along at all.[5] Ward's drum tech Graham Wright and Osbourne's personal assistant David Tangye stated in their 2004 book How Black Was Our Sabbath that the problems between the two originated after a show the two bands performed earlier in Switzerland.[12] An altercation occurred in an hotel bar in which Butler removed a switch-blade comb from his pocket and opened it. Young thought it was a switchblade knife and believed Butler was pointing it at him.[12] In the Bon Scott biography Highway To Hell: The Life and Times of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott, Clinton Walker writes of the tour: "Sabbath, by 1976, were well past their prime, and AC/DC were all but blowing them right off the stage. Substance abuse in the band was rampant." Graham and Tangye also disclose that during the tour drummer Ward had begun driving from gig to gig in a rented Winnebago due to a fear of flying.

Track listing

All tracks written by Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osbourne, except "It's Alright", written by Bill Ward.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Back Street Kids"3:47
2."You Won't Change Me"6:42
3."It's Alright"4:04
4."Gypsy"5:14
Side two
No.TitleLength
5."All Moving Parts (Stand Still)"5:07
6."Rock 'n' Roll Doctor"3:30
7."She's Gone"4:58
8."Dirty Women"7:13
  • The cassette version reverses the two sides.
  • Tracks 3 and 4 were swapped on some copies.

Personnel

Black Sabbath

Additional

Release history

Region Date Label
United States 25 September 1976 Warner Bros. Records
United Kingdom 8 October 1976 Vertigo Records
Canada 25 September 1976 Warner Bros. Records
United Kingdom 1996 Castle Communications
United Kingdom 2004 Sanctuary Records

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[13] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References

  1. ^ "Billboard's Top Album Picks". Billboard: 66. 16 Oct 1976. Those precursors of science-fiction teen-oriented hard rock produced themselves at Miami's Criteria Studios...
  2. ^ "American album certifications – Black Sabbath – Technical Ecstasy". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  3. ^ "Technical Ecstasy: Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums" at AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  4. ^ Barackman, Michael (October 26, 1976). "Sabbath surfaces". Circus #142.
  5. ^ a b c d e Iommi, Tony (2011). Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-30681-9551.
  6. ^ "The Artwork". Black Sabbath FAQ. black-sabbath.com. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  7. ^ "All About Hipgnosis", Zoom, the International Magazine, no. 6, New York, 1979
  8. ^ Prato, Greg. "Black Sabbath: Technical Ecstasy" at AllMusic. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  9. ^ "Black Sabbath: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  10. ^ Fratzi, Roland (2019). "The Daily Vault Music Reviews : Techinal Ecstasy". dailyvault.com. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  11. ^ Barackman, Michael (October 26, 1976). "Sabbath surfaces". Circus #142.
  12. ^ a b Tangye, Dave; Wright, Graham (2004). How Black Was Our Sabbath. PAN Macmillan Adult. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-33041-1943.
  13. ^ "American album certifications – Technical Ecstasy". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links

Bill Ward (musician)

William Thomas Ward (born 5 May 1948) is an English musician and visual artist, best known as the original drummer of the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He also performed lead vocals on two Black Sabbath songs: "It's Alright" from the album Technical Ecstasy and "Swinging the Chain" from the album Never Say Die!. Ward is known for his very unorthodox style of playing the drums, often using snare-drills and tempo-drop to match both vocals and riff.

Black Sabbath (compilation)

Club Sonderauflage is a vinyl LP which consists of a compilation of Black Sabbath songs released in 2006 by Earmark Records.

Cross Purposes

Cross Purposes is the 17th studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in January 1994.

Evil Woman (Crow song)

"Evil Woman" (sometimes titled "Evil Woman Don't Play Your Games with Me") is a song by Minneapolis-based band Crow, on their 1969 album Crow Music. It reached number 19 on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

Fairies Wear Boots

"Fairies Wear Boots" is a song by the English heavy metal band Black Sabbath, from their 1970 album Paranoid. It was released in 1971 as the B-side to "After Forever".

Gerald Woodroffe

Gerald "Jezz" Woodroffe (born 1951, Birmingham, England) is an English keyboardist and songwriter.

He was a member of Belle Stars, Purusha, Sally Hope, Geezer Butler Band.He played on the Sabotage and Technical Ecstasy albums by Black Sabbath and performed live with the band, offstage.

Woodroffe also performed and recorded with Robert Plant and Phil Collins on the album Pictures at Eleven made by the famous singer of Led Zeppelin.In the early 1990s, Jezz composed the music to two games by Horror Soft; Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus with Philip Nixon, and also composed the music to Waxworks. He is related to Horror Soft game developers Mike and Simon Woodroffe.

Greatest Hits 1970–1978

Greatest Hits 1970–1978 is a compilation album from Black Sabbath, released in 2006.

This album features only the original line-up of Black Sabbath with all the albums Ozzy Osbourne worked on presented from 1970's self-titled debut album to 1978's Never Say Die!.

The album debuted on the Billboard 200 album chart on 1 April 2006 at number 96. It spent 10 weeks on the chart.It was released to coincide with the band's induction into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In These Black Days

In These Black Days: A Tribute to Black Sabbath is the name of a 6-volume Black Sabbath tribute series, released as a series of split 7" singles by Hydra Head Records. A double CD edition, compiling of all of the songs from the 7"s, as well as additional Black Sabbath covers from other bands associated with Hydra Head Records, was planned for years, but has not been released. One track recorded for inclusion on the eventual CD release, Isis's cover of "Hand of Doom", was instead included on the band's Sawblade EP.

Inside Black Sabbath – 1970–1992

Black Sabbath - 1970-1992 is a video by heavy metal band Black Sabbath.

Never Say Die (Black Sabbath song)

"Never Say Die" is the title track of British rock band Black Sabbath's 1978 album.

Their first UK single to chart since "Paranoid" in 1970, it peaked at 21. The group performed the song on Top of the Pops in 1978.The song, said drummer Bill Ward, “has some good double bass drums.”

Sweet Leaf

"Sweet Leaf" is a song by Black Sabbath from their third studio album Master of Reality, released in 1971. It is considered as one of the band's signature songs. It was included on their initial greatest hits compilation We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll (1976).

The Best of Black Sabbath

The Best of Black Sabbath is a double CD compilation album by Black Sabbath released in 2000 on the Sanctuary Records label. Its 32 songs are presented chronologically from the band's first 11 albums, spanning the years 1970 to 1983. Black Sabbath's classic six-album run, from 1970s debut Black Sabbath through 1975's Sabotage is celebrated with three to six songs from each album. Original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne's subsequent final two albums with the band, 1976's Technical Ecstasy and 1978's Never Say Die!, are represented by one and two songs, respectively. Replacement Ronnie James Dio's early 80's stint fronting the band on two albums is acknowledged with the title track of 1980's Heaven and Hell and a track from 1981's The Mob Rules. The compilation closes with a song from 1983's attempted rebirth, Born Again, former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan's sole album with the band. The Best of Black Sabbath does not include any later material with vocalists Glenn Hughes (1986's Seventh Star), Tony Martin (1986–96) or the returning Dio (1992's Dehumanizer).

As this compilation album is released by a record label not associated with Black Sabbath or their management, it is not considered an official Black Sabbath release, and isn't in their official catalogue. There have been roughly half a dozen compilations released throughout Black Sabbath's career titled The Best of Black Sabbath. None of them are official band releases.

The Collection (Black Sabbath album)

The Collection is a compilation album released by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath in 1992. The album was released on the label Castle, who released two CD versions of this album in the UK, both with the same cover art and songs. The album includes greatest songs of Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne prior to his dismissal in 1979, from the eponymous album to Never Say Die!. The album has 15 tracks, two from Black Sabbath, two from Paranoid, one from Master of Reality, two from Black Sabbath Vol. 4, two from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, two from Sabotage, two from Technical Ecstasy and two from Never Say Die!.

The Rules of Hell

The Rules of Hell is a collection of four albums by the heavy metal band Black Sabbath featuring Ronnie James Dio on vocals in remastered form. The albums included in the set are:

1980 Heaven and Hell

1981 Mob Rules

1982 Live Evil (2 CDs)

1992 DehumanizerThe boxed set was released on 22 July 2008 through Rhino. Heaven & Hell supported the box set on the Metal Masters Tour, featuring Judas Priest, Motörhead and Testament.The set does not include the three new recordings from the Black Sabbath: The Dio Years compilation, although some Internet stores included the three The Dio Years tracks as a bonus when downloading the set.

Trashed (Black Sabbath song)

"Trashed" is a song from the album Born Again, by English rock band Black Sabbath. It was released as a single also. It is the first song of the album, and one of the first songs by the Gillan Sabbath lineup.

White Tiger (band)

White Tiger was an American glam metal band.

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