Review Copy Details
Label: Blacklake / Catalogue Number: BL411348 / Release Date: 10 April 2020 / Country Of Manufacture: The Netherlands
Release Link in The Vinyl Vault
View Jazz Sabbath - Jazz Sabbath
You might have heard about this album in the media over the last few months, that's how I found out about it! The following documentary appeared in my YouTube feed one day.
After watching the mini documentary above, I followed the link to the BandCamp page for Jazz Sabbath, and took a look at the options available, deciding to purchase the vinyl only option, that was back in Early 2020. (The video above appears to be a new, slightly re-edited version of the video I watched but it is majority the same from memory, I can't comment on why the video re-uploaded though.)
Now I have to admit, that I Dex Vinyl started to believe this totally fabricated story, believing that there was some possibility to the story and claims. I have since seen the error of my ways and know that the back story to the album is a very well crafted work of fiction.
Formed in 1968, Jazz Sabbath were considered by many to be at the forefront of the new jazz movement coming out of England at the time. The eagerly awaited debut album, scheduled for release on Friday 13th February 1970, was destined never to be released. Until now.
The album was cancelled when news broke that founding member and pianist Milton Keanes was hospitalised with a massive heart attack which left him fighting for his life. The record company took the decision to shelve the album and cancel the scheduled release out of compassion and the financial uncertainty of releasing a debut album from a band without its musical leader.
When Milton was finally released from hospital in September 1970, he found out that a band from Birmingham, conveniently called "Black Sabbath", had since released two albums containing metal versions of what he claims were his songs.
Milton tried to contact his record label, Rusty Bedsprings Records, only to find out it didn't exist anymore and the label owner was in jail. All recalled Jazz Sabbath albums had been destroyed when the warehouse burned down in June 1970; which turned out to be a case of insurance fraud by the label owner, leaving only a few bootleg tapes of Jazz Sabbath's live performances between 1968 and 1969 as proof of existence.
The album masters were said to be lost in the fire, but were actually misplaced and gathered dust in the basement vaults of the recording studio for many years, destined never to see the light of day.
In late 2019, nearly 50 years later, the man who bought the building where the recording studio had been located (in order to turn it into a vegan pet shop) found the master recording tapes, which contained the original masters from the 1969 recording sessions and the slides containing the original album cover. These tapes have now been remixed and will finally be heard.
The album proves that the heavy metal band worshipped by millions around the world are in fact nothing more than musical charlatans, thieving the music from a bedridden, hospitalised genius.
For More Information Please Visit The Jazz Sabbath Website.
Jazz Sabbath is the brainchild of long time keyboard and guitar player for Black Sabbath Adam Wakeman (Son of Yes and Strawbs and Solo Pianist/Organist Rick Wakeman) with from what I can understand from various articles online the full support of Black Sabbath members past and present for both the story and project.
Each of the tracks on this album, listed below are complete full length jazz interpretations of the tracks Metal fans have been enjoying for decades, each track is easily recognisable whilst being presented in a completely different style, an effect we here at The Vinyl Vault like to call Lefting(A blog post is incoming about the Lefting concept).
Sitting alone in a darkened studio, listening to this album on a Thursday afternoon in the middle of Lockdown, taking a day off from being a Keyworker, I found that even though the raw energy that I always look for from a Black Sabbath track was missing (and honestly would have been totally out of place). Now, I'm not saying that this album has no energy, actually quite the opposite, it is full of energy and vibrancy just different to the Rock and Metal energy of a Black Sabbath recording of these tracks. As many of you know who listen to the radio show, one thing that annoys me, when listening to music or watching a concert, is poor mixing, so that instruments that are seen on a screen, can't be heard (what's the point huh?) I am delighted to be able to say that this album has been mixed fantastically. The sound stage is set exactly how I imagine had the backstory of the album been in fact true, Piano front and centre, precisely where vocals would be if there were any, Bass and Drums set just behind.
By the end of the first side, I was feeling very chilled out, sat in my comfy chair, exactly what I wanted, and wishing I was sat in one of the smoky Jazz clubs in London back in the 1960s and 1970s listening to this live!
OK, wow, just wow! Track 2 on side 2, I think is probably the best version of this track I have ever heard. Now I'm not particularly a fan of Black Sabbath's original version of Changes, and positively dislike and avoid the remake from Ozzy and Kelly (Sorry, not sorry, we all have our likes and dislikes that's what makes us who we are) I'd heard bits of the Jazz piano part on the documentary, but hearing the full trio's version is absolutely something else. Changes really suits the vocal removal and Jazz treatment.
The closest comparison I can come to for this album for anything that I've heard recently, is Scott Bradlee's PostModern Jukebox without the vocals. Scott, take note, not all your retro grooves need vocal additions
So in summary, for fans of Black Sabbath, this album is a real head bender but utterly brilliant each track is recognisable from the original just different. For fans of Jazz, this album is simply outstanding if you have no knowledge of the Black Sabbath tracks, you don't need it, these are individual, unique tracks that stand up on their own, no previous knowledge of the lyrics or vocals is needed. If you are a fan of both genres or even just looking for something new to expand your musical journey, it is absolutely a MUST BUY.
Don't forget to tune in to the Vinyl Vault this week to hear highlights from this brilliant album!
Vinyl Vault Rating:
9.5 out of 10 Records
The only thing that stopped me giving this album 10/10 Records, is that I wanted more, which whilst it is a good thing, and I will be following closely on BandCamp which is where they have their storefront waiting impatiently for a new release, I didn't want this afternoon of listening to end.
Milton Keanes - Piano
Jacque T'fono - Upright Bass
Juan TakÃ© - Drums
As ever, I'll catch you on the flip side and keep putting that needle on the records, (carefully) and we'll see you on air!