Sunday, March 27, 2011


An old boss of mine had a line that he would use whenever someone was trying to sell him an idea on the basis that if we went down a particular direction, we would be "pioneers".
"I don't want to be a pioneer", he would reply, "I know what happened to the pioneers; the indians filled them with arrows."

The clip above is from a Black Sabbath concert in Paris in 1970, which has been knocking around on DVD for a while now. When I first saw this concert, what struck me was the audience. You get a good look at them at the start of this clip, as the cameraman helpfully pans across the cinema in which the show takes place. It's not a heavy metal audience. Instead, it's a bunch of French hipsters, who look a lot like the 1968 students from Bertolucci's The Dreamers. You can imagine that they had turned up to see what this new English rock band sounded like; the one that the music press was saying were even louder than the Yardbirds. Louder than the Yardbirds! Ce n'est pas possible! They probably showed Zabriske Point afterwards.

But of course it's not a heavy metal audience. There were no heavy metal audiences before Black Sabbath. No denim jackets with back patches. No studded wristbands. No air guitars. None of the above. Sabbath must have spent the first 5 or so years of their existence playing the likes of N.I.B. and Black Sabbath in front of crowds of bemused hip young things wondering what the devil was going on. That couldn't have been as easy as it sounds. They must have taken a lot of arrows.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fly, on your way, like an Eagle

You may have already seen this doing the rounds of the internet but I'm sure you won't mind seeing it again. Three thoughts struck me while watching it:

First, Flight of Icarus is a damn good pop song. That's right: pop song. It rattles along impressively and the chorus is full of hooks. The ABBA lads wouldn't have kicked it out of bed, that's what I'm saying.

Secondly, it's refreshing to see kids actually enjoying themselves in a music video. Let's face it, whenever you see children in a music video, the odds are that they're there, swaying along self-consciously,  to prop up some drippy ballad about world peace, the environment or - worst of all - Christmas. They seem to be having a lot more fun here, throwing metal shapes and playing air guitar (and check out the cardboard guitar on the left of the front row - it's 1979 all over again).

The last point that occurred to me was that, back when this came out in 1983, if a primary school child turned up wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt they would most likely have earned a trip to the Headmaster's office pretty sharply. Now look. You can't say that nothing's changed for the better in the last 20 years.