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Taken from Ultimate-Guitar (Jan 24, 2021)

Top 5 Unreleased and Mysterious Black Sabbath Songs

These are rare things indeed.

by The_Phoenician

Black Sabbath. PhotoCredit: Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty
Black Sabbath, pictured in 1970. PhotoCredit: Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty

Even if you're completely new to the world of rock and metal music, you probably know how huge an impact Black Sabbath has had on the genre(s) in question. And as it is with such iconic bands, the discovery of any previously unreleased music tends to get quite a lot of people very excited, to use a euphemism here. However, unlike some other highly popular bands, the working credo of Black Sabbath's members has always been that the music they meant to release has already been released and that anything that didn't make the cut didn't do so purposefully. Given that, a potential release of unused material from any of Black Sabbath's three eras is highly unlikely.

But, such material exists, and some of it has found its way to the Internet. In this article, we'll be taking a look at some of those unreleased Sabbath songs that we know of, and some of these potentially have a great impact on how history remembers the iconic band's early days. Now let's begin.

The Rebel

We'll hit it off with the most intriguing song of the bunch. Most of you here are probably aware that the iconic quartet of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward originally got together in 1968 under the name of Earth, and only changed the band's name to Black Sabbath after seeing a certain Boris Karloff flick a year later so as not to be confused with another band bearing the same name.

Now, at the time of renaming, the band had already officially been in business for a year already and had begun to attract a great deal of attention, so making a record of sorts was only to be expected - and history as we knew it has told us that the first-ever Black Sabbath recording ended up being the legendary "Black Sabbath" album from February 1970.

However, back in 2003 when the Internet was still young, a previously unheard demo claimed to be the earliest Black Sabbath recording sprang up on a file-sharing website, and while its authenticity seemed rather dubious, the voice you can hear on the track called "The Rebel" is unmistakably Ozzy's.

Eventually, Mr. Iommi & Co., as well as Martin Popoff, the author of Black Sabbath's biography titled "Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose" and probably the biggest authority on the history of Black Sabbath outside of the band members themselves, all, corroborated the existence of a demo recording made by the Birmingham titans during their very last days as Earth.

What happened was that after returning from a tour in Germany, Earth's then-manager Jim Simpson had booked them a recording session at Trident Studios in St. Anne's Court in Soho. The end product was to be engineered by Gus Dudgeon (who'd already worked with Elton John and David Bowie beforehand), but the band opted for a certain Rodger Bain, who'd go on to produce Black Sabbath's first three albums afterwards.

At the time, the band had already decided on switching the name, but had still played a lot of gigs as Earth mostly they'd been booked as such. On the very next day after the demo recording was finished, the band played their last ever gig as Earth in Kilcady, Scotland.

But what happened with the demo itself before the alleged version resurfaced on the internet? Well, in "Doom Let Loose", Mr Popoff wrote that only a single acetate copy was ever made and that it had suffered the following fate:

"The only 7-inch acetate of that track ("The Rebel") was handed to a mate and helper of Iommi's in 1969 after he had given Tony a ride home from the pub."

Other than that, the demo's fate remains largely unclear. Furthermore, members of Black Sabbath usually don't like to talk about these early recordings a lot and have so far shown no interest in an official release, but you can check out the mysterious track here:

Sometimes I'm Happy

As mind-blowing as the story of the early Earth acetates (yes, there's more) is, there's also a bit of mystery surrounding some of the material from Black Sabbath's self-titled debut album. In 1975, while performing the "Wicked World" medley from the aforementioned album, the metal giants managed to sneak what is practically another separate song inside the performance. Titled "Sometimes I'm Happy", the song was never listed as a separate track, but it can also be found in the version of "Wicked World" performed on the 2002 "Past Lives" live album. You can check out the 1975 version here:

Untitled Instrumental From The 1975 Live A Crumbled Knight Vows

To be upfront with you here, I'm not sure this can be classified as a full-blooded song given that it's a one minute jam with Iommi riffing and soloing, but it's tasty as hell and I'm sure there are people here who'd appreciate it. However, we also know that Mr. Iron Man got ideas for future songs from similar jams during live shows, so maybe this beauty could have become a full song at some point. And although it never did, you can enjoy what we have in the link below, and as short as it is, there's a lot to enjoy:

Scary Dreams

Back in 2013, Black Sabbath released the much-anticipated album "13", the first Sabbath album with Ozzy singing since 1978's "Never Say Die" and the final piece in the epic story of this genre-defining band. There was even more excitement building up prior to its release because it was also the first Sabbath album in 18 years, following the band's sort-of hiatus after the meek reception of 1995's "Forbidden".

However, not many people know that the band members began working on a comeback album that included Ozzy much earlier. During the late '90s and early '00s, Black Sabbath did a series of reunion tours with Ozzy (mostly as a part of Ozzfest), and it was at that time they first went in the studio alongside the legendary Rick Rubin to work on some ideas. Although this studio endeavor would be postponed due to other engagements on both sides, they did manage to get a few songs together, and even perform one, titled "Scary Dreams", in 2001. Sadly, "Scary Dreams" never made it to "13"'s eventual release, but the song kicks ass nevertheless, and thanks to how the Internet works, we can still listen to it if we're so inclined:

When I Came Down

Remember how earlier on I said that "The Rebel" wasn't the only Black Sabbath demo that never (officially) saw the light of day? Well, during the early 2010s, rumors began spreading that another song that appeared on those sketchy uploads and bootlegs, "When I Came Down", was also pressed in vinyl during a separate recording. The rumor was that this other "7" acetate had the aforementioned song on its A-side and an early version of "The Wizard" on the B-side.

Eventually, band members came out and confirmed the truth in this one as well. Like "The Rebel", "When I Came Down" was also written for Sabbath by Norman Haines, who played keyboards in the band's then-manager Jim Simpson's band Locomotive, but was recorded during a separate session. However, unlike "The Rebel", only 53 seconds of the song managed to surface online, so what you're about to hear is the product of a fan's meticulous splicing of the little material available. And to give credit where credit's due, if you'd like to read more about the mystery of the early Sabbath you can check out this article, and if you haven't read it already, Mr. Popoff's "Doom Let Loose" is a marvelous read you're sure to enjoy.




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