Aside from the bells, thunder and rain sound effects added to the beginning of the opening track, and the double-tracked guitar solos on "N.I.B.," there were virtually no overdubs added to the album. Iommi recalls recording live: "We thought, 'We have two days to do it and one of the days is mixing.' So we played live. Ozzy (Osbourne) was singing at the same time, we just put him in a separate booth and off we went. We never had a second run of most of the stuff."
Key to the band's new sound on the album is Iommi's distinctive playing style that he developed after an accident at a sheet metal factory where he was working at the age of 17 in which the tips of the middle fingers of his fretting hand were severed. Iommi created a pair of false fingertips using plastic from a dish detergent bottle and detuned the strings on his guitar to make it easier for him to bend the strings, creating a massive, heavy sound. "I'd play a load of chords and I'd have to play fifths because I couldn't play fourths because of my fingers," Iommi explained to Phil Alexander in Mojo in 2013.
|Mapledurham Watermill, Oxfordshire, England|
I love it all, including the mistakes!" In an interview for the Classic Albums series in 2010 Butler added, "It was literally live in the studio. I mean, (producer) Rodger Bain, I think he's a genius the way he captured the band in such a short time." In his autobiography Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath, Iommi plays down the producer's role, insisting, "We didn't choose to work with Rodger Bain, he was chosen for us... He was good to have around, but we didn't really get a lot of advice from him. He maybe suggested a couple of things, but the songs were already fairly structured and sorted."
Black Sabbath was recorded for Fontana Records, but prior to release the record company elected to switch the band to another of their labels, Vertigo Records, which housed the company's more progressive acts. Released on Friday the 13th February 1970 by Vertigo Records, Black Sabbath reached number eight on the UK Albums Charts. Following its United States release in June 1970 by Warner Bros. Records, the album reached number 23 on the Billboard 200, where it remained for more than a year and sold one million copies.
The Black Sabbath album cover features a depiction of Mapledurham Watermill, situated on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England. Standing in front of the watermill is a figure dressed in black. The name of the woman pictured on the front cover is forgotten, though guitarist Iommi says that she once showed up backstage at a Black Sabbath show and introduced herself. According to feelnumb.com, which featured an article on the album cover, 'Not much is known about the eerie woman used in the photo other then she was a model/actress hired for the day and her name was Louise.'
The inner gatefold sleeve of the original release was designed by Keith McMillan (credited as Marcus Keef) and featured an inverted cross with a poem written inside of it. Allegedly, the band were upset when they discovered this, as it fuelled allegations that they were Satanists or Occultists; however, in Osbourne's memoir, he says that to the best of his knowledge nobody was upset with the inclusion.
|Black Sabbath 1970|
♫♪♪♫♪ Ozzy Osbourne – vocals, harmonica on "The Wizard"
♫♪♪♫♪ Tony Iommi – guitar
♫♪♪♫♪ Geezer Butler – bass
♫♪♪♫♪ Bill Ward – drums
01."Black Sabbath" 06:20
02."The Wizard" 04:24
03."Behind the Wall of Sleep" 03:37
05."Evil Woman" (Crow cover) Larry Weigand, Dick Weigand, David Wagner 03:25
06."Sleeping Village" 03:46
07."Warning" (The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation cover) Aynsley Dunbar, Alex Dmochowski, Victor Hickling, John Moorshead 10:28
08."Wicked World" 04:47