Rat Salad: Black Sabbath: The Classic Years- Written by Paul Wilkinson

Rat Salad

Rat Salad is not your average Black Sabbath book, I’d reason it’s different than most. The Rock n’ Metal Collectables bookshelf holds many Sabbath biographies: and while other books are perfect ingestion for the rabid fan, craving stories of wild excess, & to reference two, (How black was our Sabbath by David Tangye And Graham Wright or Mick wall’s Symptom Of The Universe.) Sometimes a far deeper & closer look makes much more compelling reading. That’s where Rat Salad comes in because its pages set a different scene entirely.

So why exactly does Paul Wilkinsons book stand apart from the the usual run of the mill tales of metal’s most revered originaters then?

Well, this book seeks not to investigate the usual well peddled stories but instead fixes it’s gaze much deeper than most. The Author goes into microscopic detail way beyond the usual tell tales and probes deeper into the composition of the music. This then, gives the reader a much needed perpective that expands a little more as Wilkinson zooms in. Sure, here we have the managerial bust ups, tour dates and studio repertiore here at length, but his book takes the reader to rarer places you’ve never been and shows us where the music came from.

So just to be clear, this isn’t a biography of the band. Wilkinson has not made any interviews with Sabbath and his work here is focused on the most important thing. The music. Providing a backdrop of Sabbaths finest work across a Musical, Political & Artistic landscape between the years 1969-75.

It’s pages give the reader generous stories detailing the brummie doom blokes chronological rise from the back alleys of bombed out Birmingham. But the book also treats the reader to an account of the times Sabbath grew up in with news stories of that era, and how they composed the music to the tune world events.

Despite this, after reading other reviews, I think this book has taken a lot of flak. Largely from people stating that the book has too many of Wilkinson’s personal stories in them. But for whatever the reason, I think it adds to build up the picture of who this black Sabbath fan is. Namely the author himself- Articulate, intelligent and well versed in writing his book.

Does C# strike a chord with you?

The music theory might get in the way to the casual reader- not everybody can relate to the guitar being detuned or what a C Sharp is, and this is understandable. The book may intimidate and get in the way of the readers flow of imagination.

I think this book would appeal largely to musicians or completists that want to dig deeper. It’s for the affacianado’s who want to know what Chords, Scales and Modes made up the music. It may at times read like a guitar tablature book and that’s all fine and dandy of course, if this style piques your interest.

I would say this is good mind fodder those that want to probe deeper into the music. It’s here for those that seek where the roots of metal were forged, & for me as a mere bedroom guitarist this gives interesting reading. That said, I feel this could become a stumbling block for those that don’t understand or haven’t the time for musician’s jargon.

Just for Sabbath nerds out there, If you delight in knowing Children Of The Grave’s middle 8 sounds like like satans funeral hymn or has a melodic similiaririty to Holsts Mars or Led Zeppelin’s Friends, then, this book has revealing moments in generous measures.

Pros

  • A refreshing & off the beaten path book that steers clear of all the usual staple of Sabbath’s legendary antics
  • Can shine a light on how the music came to be-Guitarists may relish on taking notes.

Cons

  • The music theory can become overwhelming to the casual reader and may become an obstacle.
  • Some reviewers have complained that Paul Wilkinson’s autobiographical accounts of himself get in the way. (Madeliene Morgan). et al, were not necessary in the book.

In Summary

Not a biography of the band. But a Witty, humourous and enlightening account on the musical substance of Black Sabbaths work between 69 & 75. There’s much to soak in, Rat Salad Gives plenty of depth on each song across the first 6 classic Sabbath albums. So if you’re musically orientated or play a guitar, it could give interesting, enlightening and expansive reading.

 

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