Strictly speaking, the name of the CD is War Pigs, but I wanted there to be no confusion that what I’m talking about is Black Sabbath‘s gig at L’Olympia in Paris, France, from December 20, 1970. I know I’ve posted about it here before, and it’s probably the most famous of the many Sabbath bootlegs out there (if it’s second to anything, it’s Asbury Park, 1975; even that’s debatable), but it’s something I’ve gone back to a few times this summer for repeat listens, and it well earns its place as the Album of the Summer of the Week.
Whatever happened afterwards and whatever seemingly unending trail of bullshit infighting follows the band to this very day, in December 1970, Black Sabbath were basically dopey kids. This show was recorded a mere two months after Paranoid was released, and the performance is signature. From Geezer Butler‘s bass righteousness in “Hand of Doom” to Ozzy Osbourne even then not being able to remember the lyrics to “Iron Man,” Tony Iommi‘s burgeoning mastery of the riff and Bill Ward‘s manic fills, listening to War Pigs they sound like a band poised to create the greatest album ever — which of course they’d do with Master of Reality, released the following summer.
But War Pigs is overflowing with potential and if there’s a better way to end an hour-long set than “Fairies Wear Boots” — the verses of which are murdered here to hilarious effect — I’ve never encountered it. This being the age of ubiquitous online bootleggery (the up and down merits of which are a debate for another time altogether), the entire Paris 1970 set has made its way onto YouTube in glorious high definition, so please feel free to enrich your overheated summer afternoon with it below.