March 25, 2005

Various Artists "everything comes and goes"

As hard as it is to believe, Ozzy Osbourne's Black Sabbath used to be an awesome, scary band; people were afraid of them—people thought that Osbourne was the devil incarnate--because they just seemed so...evil. But the years--and a story line that almost seems to be straight out of a comic book--have not been so kind to them. Sure, they can sell out an entire reunion tour, but still--something's lost. Maybe it's that whole "with age comes respectability" thing. In fact, I'm sure of it. As much as a cliché as they may seem, Black Sabbath’s first four Sabbath are essential listening—they’re easily as important as the first four Led Zeppelin records, and it’s this era (with one exception) that Everything Comes and Goes: A Tribute to Black Sabbath pays tribute to.

In terms of tribute records, Everything Comes and Goes is a keeper. Unlike most tribute albums, it contains no half-assed versions or tossed-off covers by barely-talented musicians who substitute talent with sincerity. (Of course, it's hard for a record to have any fluff when there are only nine songs on it!) Still, the reverential nature of this project--a labor of love that took seven years to complete--makes up for the seemingly skimpy offerings.
The first track--"F/X" by the otherwise excellent Matmos-- is also the shortest AND the weakest song on Everything Comes and Goes; it's the only low point, and it's a low point simply because there's not much TO it--other than a brief moment of nearly inaudible electronica.

The first half of Everything Comes and Goes is good; it's primarily instrumental, too. Four Tet's soft take on "Iron Man" is quite soothing; it's downbeat. At first you'll think it's not the same without the vocals, you'll quickly realize that in this gentle, almost elevator music-styled rendition, there's a beauty to the song that you probably never noticed before. Ruins' "Reversible Sabbath" is a noise-rock medley, but the only song you'll probably recognize is, once again, "Iron Man." Paul Newman's "Fairies Wear Boots" is nice, as is Grails' "Black Sabbath." Do they have the same intensity as the originals? No, not really, but that's not the point; if you wanted to hear those heavy songs, why buy a tribute record?

It's the latter half of the record, though, that really makes things interesting. The Curtis Harvey Trio, a one-off group formed simply for this project, takes "Changes" into a down-home country ballad. So does The Anomoanon, who Oldham-fy "Planet Caravan" with a nice haze of whiskey, pot and humidity. (I'm not sure if brother Will is sitting in on this one, but it sure sounds like it. Racebannon's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is the only song that attempts to repeat the sludge-rock of the original Sabbath, and they do it quite well, too. Album closer "Sweet Leaf," by Greenness w/Philly G, adds a bit of a hip-hop touch to this classic love song to pot, and their song is quite catchy, too; try not to hit repeat after listening to it!

In fact, after one listen to Everything Comes and Goes, it's downright impossible to stay away from it. Temporary Residence did it right; this is truly a labor of love. Sure, Ozzy might be a bit of a joke now, but this is proof positive that the music that brought him fame and fortune was not only excellent in its day, but is still inspirational nearly four decades later.

--Joseph Kyle

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