Sound — 10
MTV refugees, who miss the days when things called music videos were actually on regular rotation, have likely discovered a suitable replacement with VH1 Classic. If you have delved into more than the cable channel's typical video fare, then you're also familiar with Classic Albums, a show that has sent music geeks across the world into a state of ecstasy. The documentary series, which has become a staple of VH1 Classic, chronicles the making of such groundbreaking records as Dark Side of the Moon and Electric Ladyland. Eagle Vision has heard the call of Tony Iommi devotees everywhere and released a DVD/Blu-ray version of one of the most fascinating episodes in the franchise, Black Sabbath Paranoid. With Paranoid celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Classic Albums/Black Sabbath episode is particularly timely. Music buffs will relish at the 97-minute DVD that touches upon everything from Black Sabbath's influences, the songwriting process behind tracks like War Pigs and Iron Man, the band's introduction into America, and even hands-on explanations of the riff work from Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. In stark contrast to the band's self-titled debut album (recorded over two days and mixed in one), Paranoid was allowed an opportunity to be crafted in more accommodating studio environment. Those sessions bore a variety of intriguing stories, specifically one that details how Paranoid was written off-the-cuff after executives requested a short song. The audio quality is amazing on Black Sabbath Paranoid, with several instances where the original takes are played back in their rawest form. It's difficult not to be entertained by moments during which you can hear a young Ozzy improvise slightly nonsensical lyrics to what would eventually be the song Paranoid. If you're a musician, you'll pretty much geek out over one-one-one sessions with Iommi, Butler, and drummer Bill Ward, all whom essentially provide step-by-step guides to playing songs like War Pigs.
Content — 7
The feature presentation, which is the typical hour-long duration of the original program, features interviews from not only all four members of Black Sabbath, but also a wide variety of journalists and historians. The always commanding Henry Rollins chimes in and refers to Black Sabbath as a band for the loners who partied in the woods. The bonus material includes over 40 minutes of additional interview material, and this is where you learn more about the technical aspects of the songs. Every minute within the DVD/Blu-ray is going to be engaging if you're a Black Sabbath fan, but it would have been great to get one or two more extras whether it be the original video for Paranoid or a live performance in its entirety.
Production Quality — 9
If you opt for the Blu-ray version, you're guaranteed stunning film footage. Is it necessary for an episode of Classic Albums, which deals mostly with sit-down interview formats, to be seen in Blu-ray? Probably not. But if you're sensitive to such areas, yes, you'll likely detect a difference with the general quality. Classic Albums is a well-made show that has a cut-and-dried format, but it works effectively.
Overall Impression — 9
In the end, Black Sabbath fans will not be disappointed. You're receiving first-hand accounts and anecdotes about Paranoid, which was inspired by everything from jazz to 12-bar blues to The Beatles. With the album celebrating its 40th anniversary, Eagle Vision should be commended for commemorating the event with the DVD/Blu-ray release. The price tag on the traditional DVD format isn't too steep, and it will likely be worth every penny if you're seeking to emulate the Black Sabbath sound. Thanks to some incredible close-up material of Iommi's solo work and his in-depth explanation, you're essentially getting a guitar lesson as an added bonus.