Throughout the entire month of ‘Sabb’tember I will be serving up songs from significant releases by Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Dio, Black Label Society and others off the Sabbath Family Tree!
Technical Ecstasy is the seventh studio album by Black Sabbath, produced by guitarist Tony Iommi and released on September 25, 1976. Black Sabbath was unraveling at an alarming rate around the time of their second to last album with original singer Ozzy Osbourne. The band was getting further and further away from their original musical path, as they continued experimenting with their trademark sludge-metal sound. While it was not as off-the-mark as their final album with Ozzy, 1978’s Never Say Die, it was not on par with Sabbath’s exceptional first five releases. The most popular song remains the album closer, “Dirty Women,” which was revived during the band’s highly successful reunion tour of the late ’90s. Other standouts include the funky “All Moving Parts (Stand Still)” and the raging opener, “Back Street Kids.”
“Back Street Kids” kicks off Technical Ecstasy, Sabbath’s seventh studio album, released in September 1976.
The blindingly bright, futuristic artwork (cheesy by today’s standards) was created by top Storm Thorgerson with legendary ’70s album cover design shop, Hipgnosis, famous for their covers for rock bands like Pink Floyd, T. Rex, UFO, Bad Company, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, ELO, Styx and many more. Ozzy once described it as “two robots screwing on an escalator” and “squirting lubricating fluid at one another!” According to Storm that’s exactly what they were going.
Technical Ecstasy’s lyrics dealt with a variety of topics. In Tony Iommi’s autobiography Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath, he reveals that “Dirty Women” was about “all these hookers” Geezer Butler had seen all around Florida during the albums recording.
There were obviously numerous mitigating factors behind Technical Ecstasy‘s negative attributes and reputation, substance abuse among band members, ongoing legal woes, mired in many serious business and personal issues and affected by outside forces beyond their control. Like the the arrival of punk rock in 1976, which literally turned the music world upside down, ushering in a new generation of brash young bands and transforming older idols into dinosaurs which added insult to injury as the band also dealing with severe creative block were trying to remain relevant! But history typically has no time or patience for nuance. In the long run, for most observers not privy to all that was going down behind the scenes, the album’s failings were all as simple as black…and white.
While the band were recording the album, The Eagles were also recording the album Hotel California in an adjacent studio at Criteria Studios in Miami. The Eagles were forced to stop recording on numerous occasions because Black Sabbath were too loud and the sound was bleeding through the wall.