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We've Got Sabbath Covered

by Chuck Eddy

We've Got Sabbath Covered

About this playlist

In 1994 -- as long ago now as Sabbath's Sabotage was then -- Columbia Records hit No. 50 on the Billboard 200 with a compilation called Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath, comprising covers of Ozzy Osbourne-era numbers by a dozen metal or metal-leaning bands: Faith No More, White Zombie, Ugly Kid Joe, Sepultura, Corrosion of Conformity, the industrial Ministry side project 1000 Homo DJs and so on. It was neither the first nor the last time the heavy metal godfathers got covered. There were eventually two sequel comps, for one thing, and Sabbath covers date back all the way to Japanese acid-psychsters The Flower Travellin' Band, who must've really had their ears to the ground (so they could hear all the way to the other side of the Earth!) interpreting "Black Sabbath" in 1970, the same year Sabbath themselves did it.

That prescient cut opens this mix of 25 remakes, which also cheats by including at least half of Nativity in Black, but what the heck. Other metallic bands, both famous (Anthrax, System of a Down, Pantera, Type O Negative, Guns N' Roses) and cult-level (Tyr, Ulver, Isis, Solitude Aeternus, Adrenaline Mob), pitch in, mostly also doing Ozzy-period selections, but a few tackle tracks from the Dio epoch.

By playlist's end, a handful of less metal acts stop by, too: Washington D.C. indie troupe Quixotic, Brooklyn reggae toaster Dr. Israel, Seattle butt-rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot (albeit backed by Metal Church). Those latter two take liberties with lyrics and stuff too, as do the Butthole Surfers, who regurgitate "Sweet Leaf" as "Sweat Loaf." But the lesson might be this: Even if you take the electric out of the funeral (which nobody here does!), everybody's still gotta wear black.

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