[Meeting Metal, Part 1] Black Sabbath — Sabotage

My pal and fellow poet Dave Bonta noticed some of the music I’ve been listening to and referred to it as “metal-adjacent.” I asked him to send along some recommendations for metal albums I should listen to and he did. You can see the whole playlist here. Each of these reviews is based on me listening to the album once with a notebook open on my lap, knowing nothing about it beforehand. At the bottom I’ll add any further thoughts generated by reading the album’s Wikipedia entry. You can find all the posts in this series here.

Black Sabbath — Sabotage

This wasn’t at all what I expected. This is one of just two bands on Dave’s list I’d heard before, though I haven’t heard much Sabbath at all and I’d never heard this record before. It’s much closer to hard rock and even prog rock than I thought it would be, and pretty far from my idea of what metal sounds like. (Remember throughout this series that I know next to nothing about metal.) For me, the final 20 seconds of the album, on which someone is playing an out-of-tune saloon piano while someone sings “blow on a jug” (I think) sums it all up: This record is funny, and I can’t tell when it intends to be and when it’s just the tropes of the world of metal that make me hear humor when none exists. I liked the record, and would definitely return to it.

Song Notes (written while listening)

  • “Hole In The Sky”
    • Sounds like mid-70s King Crimson at the beginning
    • Love the guitar (guitars?)
    • “I’m living free because the rent is never due”
  • “Don’t Start (Too Late)”
    • Whoa! what the hell happened?
    • I like this as a surprise palate cleanser
  • “Symptom of the Universe”
    • I mean, this is about a foot and a half over from prog rock
    • Very cool instrumental sections
    • Don’t know what year this album came out but I think it’s late 60s or early 70s? If so, you can really hear how Sabbath paved the way for what came after
    • GREAT song!
  • “Megalomania”
    • Led Zep vibes
    • this song, like this record, feels more hard rock/prog rock than my conception of metal
  • “The Thrill of it All”
    • “Won’t you help me, Mr. Jesus?”
    • Sabbath’s “Band On The Run”
  • “Supertzar”
    • Wait, when did the ELO album start?
    • Jethro Tull vibes, too
  • “Am I Going Insane?”
    • Sounds like the single for this album. I dig it.
  • “The Writ”
    • Love the low opening
    • Relentless
    • Oh wow this took a turn midway through
    • Last 20 seconds says it all — funny!

Wikipedia Post-Mortem (entry)
Sixth album, came out in 1975. Recorded with lawyers literally in the studio (!) because of legal trouble with management. Exact timing is disputed, but Sabbath did jam with Zeppelin at one point. Lyrics of “The Writ” were penned by Ozzy as a direct attack on their former manager. Wow, just one guitarist. I do know of Tony Iommi, but didn’t realize it was just him. Monstrous.

SONG POEM: I Wanna Be A Regular

This is my first attempt at a rudimentary multi-track recording. I played all the instruments (diddley-bow, pandeiro, cajon) and wrote the poem. I recorded it using a Blue Snowball microphone and Audacity, neither of which is really designed for this purpose. But what the hell, I dig it and I’m learning. Enjoy!

The text of the poem is here.

Photo of the Hagyard Building in Lenox, MA, courtesy of Sally Gustavson.

POEM: Charles Mingus Running Laps

Charles Mingus Running Laps

The new old Mingus was recorded
seven months before my own debut;
thirty-plus years before I made it to Detroit,
where Charles and Roy and Joe and
John and Don were still figuring out
the steps, some of them having only
recently been invited to dance.

There is space for all of us in music.
The misfits and the fits, if those
even exist. I’m skeptical myself.
But anyway there is room enough
at this kitchen party for you
and everyone you’ve ever known.
Hang up your coat and grab a drink.

I was a kid the first time I saw men play jazz.
My grandpa took me to hear Pete Fountain
and Al Hirt someplace. Rochester maybe. He knew
them from Lawrence Welk. At least that’s where he
learned about Pete. Toupee like a dare, clarinet
dancing like a baton as he made the uncool
cool. Saved my adolescence.

OK not actually. It still wasn’t cool to play jazz
in the eighties. Not as a nerdy white kid
in an all-white town forty-five minutes
from the birthplace of Chuck Mangione.
I did get a lot of hall passes from
the band teacher, and that was something.
Better than class. Way better than gym.

I like to picture Mingus sneaking out
of the locker room before his gym teacher
can line him up for dodgeball. Mingus who
might have flashed a blade at Duke. Mingus
who told racists in no uncertain terms
to fuck right off. Did he have to run laps,
gasping in the morning cold?


Jason Crane
20 November 2018
State College PA

VIDEO: Eric, Desiree and Jason at Full Circle Center

The Full Circle Center in Mill Hall, PA.

Last night I joined Eric Ian Farmer (guitar, vocals) and Desiree Dennis (guitar, vocals, shaker, djembe) for a show at the Full Circle Center in Mill Hall, PA. It’s a magical space dedicated to healing and mindfulness, and the acoustics are amazing. Enjoy this video of the first half of the show. This was originally on Instagram Live, thus the vertical video. Sadly my phone died while filming the second half, and that video disappeared into the mists of time. I guess you had to be there. 🙂


VIDEO: Ady, Eric and Jason at Chumley’s

Left to right: Jason Crane, Eric Ian Farmer, Ady Martinez, and Reinaldo, soundman extraordinaire.

I recently had the pleasure of performing with Ady Martinez (cuatro, vocals, shakers) and Eric Ian Farmer (guitar, cajon, vocals) at Chumley’s in State College, PA. Here are both sets. These were originally on Instagram Live, thus the vertical video. Also the first 16 minutes of the first set are sideways, but the music isn’t. Enjoy!