SWEET LEAF-A STONER SALUTE TO BLACK SABBATH.

SWEET LEAF-A STONER SALUTE TO BLACK SABBATH.

At this time of year, the compilation market becomes even more crowded than usual. It’s polluted by compilations of third rate disco, cheesy Chicago House, seventies throwaway pop and the dreaded Christmas songs. They’re the equivalent of an oil slick, that every year, pollute the compilation market. Be afraid, be very afraid, they’re coming to a record store, supermarket or petrol station near you…for a while.

Thankfully, by Boxing Day, their prices will be slashed and they’ll be coming to a bargain bin near you. If that doesn’t shift the remaining copies of these compilations, the next stop thankfully, will  be a landfill site. However, for the time being, avoiding these compilations is going to be difficult.

The record companies releasing these compilations have big marketing budgets. It’s not surprising. Many are part of multinational companies. These compilations allow them to showcase some of the artists in their back-catalogue. They’re sure to appeal to the sort of ‘party people’ who are the life and soul of their office Christmas party.

For these sad people, dancing to a medley of Abba and Gloria Gaynor is the highlight of their year. These dear readers, are the type of people people to blame for the annual onslaught of Best Disco Album and 70s Pop Explosion compilations. They ought to either get out more, try class As or undergo a musical reeducation program.

On these programs,  musical illiterates are reeducated. They’re weaned of their music lite diet. No longer will they dance to third rate disco, cheesy Chicago House or seventies throwaway pop. Instead, these musical philistines will be introduced to real music. That means the delights of classic rock, folk, Krautrock, psychedelia and prog rock. Only when the idiot savants refuse to mince to the disco beat, will this musical reeducation program be deemed a success. 

Belatedly, they’ll know the difference between Pink Floyd and The Pink Fairies. No longer is Led Zeppelin an airship. Nor was Jethro Tull  just an 18th Century agricultural pioneer. Suddenly, The Holy Trinity takes on a new meaning. It’s no longer Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Instead, The Unholy Trinity are Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, three of the greatest groups in the history of rock. 

Fittingly, Cleopatra Records have recently released a double album that pays tribute to one of The Unholy Trinity. Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Salute To Black Sabbath features sixteen songs on two albums. This includes some of the finest songs from the Black Sabbath back-catalogue. They’re brought to life by Cancer Bats, Bloody Hammers, Stoned Jesus, Death Hawks, House Of Broken Promises, Witch Mountain, Pentagram and William Shatner featuring Zakk Wylde and Mike Inez. This star-studded lineup pay homage to Black Sabbath on Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Salute To Black Sabbath, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

Opening disc one of Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Saluter To Black Sabbath is Cancer Bats’ take on Into The Void. It’s a track from Black Sabbath’s third album, Master Of Reality. Released on 21st July 1971, it reached number five in Britain and number eight in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in a silver disc in Britain, and a platinum disc in America. No wonder, with tracks like Into The Void.

It’s given an uber heavy makeover by Canadian metal band Cancer Bats. They’ve been around since 2004. They play hard and loud on Into The Void. Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward would be proud of them.

Changes is the Black Sabbath song Bloody Hammers chose to cover. It’s from the 1972 album, Black Sabbath Volume 4. Released on 25th September 1972, it reached number eight in Britain, and thirteen in the US Billboard 200. Again, this resulted in a silver disc in Britain, and a platinum disc in America. That’s where Bloody Hammers are based.

South Carolina based Bloody Hammers have been  influenced by many bands, including Black Sabbath. Bloody Hammers are a band to watch. They’re signed to Napalm Records and have just released a new album Under Satan’s Sun. It showcases a truly talented band with a big future ahead of them. That’s apparent when one listens to Bloody Hammers cover of Changes. This piano lead ballad has a real classic rock sound, and is one of the highlights of Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Saluter To Black Sabbath.

Black Sabbath fans can be found around the world. So it’s fitting that a Ukrainian psychedelic rockers Stoned Jesus feature on Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Salute To Black Sabbath. They cover The Writ, a track from Sabotage. It was released on 28th July 1975. By then, Black Sabbath were still popular in Britain, where  Sabotage reached number eight and was certified silver. Across the Atlantic, Sabotage only reached number twenty-eight in the US Billboard 200. Sabotage became Black Sabbath’s first album not to be certified platinum. Instead, it sold just 500,000 copies and was certified gold. Ironically, Sabotage is one of Black Sabbath’s most underrated albums. Equally underrated are Stoned Jesus.

They’ve toured the Ukraine and Russia, and released three albums. Their most recent album was The Harvest, which was released earlier in 2015. Hopefully, The Harvest will be the album that sees Stoned Jesus’ music reach a wider audience. Going by their cover of The Writ, they’re a talented band who prove that there’s still some great, heard rocking bands out there.

Death Hawks cover of Hand Of Doom closes disc two of Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Salute To Black Sabbath. This is a track from Black Sabbath’s 1970 sophomore album Paranoid. It’s one of Black Sabbath’s finest hours. No wonder Paranoid, which was released on 18th September 1970, reached number one in Britain, and was certified gold. Across the Atlantic, Paranoid reached reached number twelve and was certified platinum four times over. Black Sabbath were well on their way to becoming rock royalty, thanks to albums like Paranoid and songs like Hand Of Doom, which Death Hawks cover.

In Death Hawks’ hands, Hand Of Doom takes on a lysergic sound. That’s not surprising, as Death Hawks are a psychedelic rock. They’re based in Finland, and have released two albums their most recent album is Death Hawks, which was released in 2013. Given the undoubtable quality of Hand Of Doom, hopefully it won’t be long until Death Hawks release their third album.

House of Broken Promises open disc two of Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Salute To Black Sabbath with a cover of Lady Evil. It’s a track from Heaven And Hell, which was released on 25th April 1980. Heaven and Hell saw a resurgence in Black Sabbath’s fortunes. The album reached number nine in Britain, and twenty-eight in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in a gold disc in Britain, and a platinum disc in America. For Black Sabbath, this was their most successful album 1973s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. 

Witch Mountain are regarded as one of the finest purveyors of stoner metal. They keep the spirit of Black Sabbath flying with their cover of Sleeping Village. It’s a track from Black Sabbath’s eponymous debut album. Released on 13th February 1970, Black Sabbath reached number eight in Britain, and number twenty-three in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in a gold disc in Britain and a platinum disc in America. For Black Sabbath, this was the first of many. Ulver however, are still waiting for a gold or platinum disc.

That’s despite being one of the most experienced band. The Norwegian based musical collective have been making music since 1993. It’s another track from Black Sabbath’s 1971 classic album, Master Of Reality. Back then, Black Sabbath were on roll, producing some of the best music of their career. So to are Ulver, who have released fifteen albums since Bergtatt – Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler in 1995. Surely another album can’t be far away from one of the elder statesmen of Norwegian music, who are never afraid to innovate.

It’s fitting that Weedpecker cover the track that lent its title to the compilation Sweat Leaf. It’s another track from Black Sabbath’s 1971 classic, Master Of Reality. That’s no surprise. It was one of the best and most cohesive albums of Black Sabbath’s career. They’re at their hard rocking best on Masters Of Reality. Hard rock also describes Weedpecker’s cover of Sweat Leaf. It’s a smoking track.

Closing Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Saluter To Black Sabbath is a track from an unlikely rocker, William Shatner. William Shatner featuring Zakk Wylde and Mike Inez cover Iron Man, a track from 1970s Paranoid. It’s the ultimate Black Sabbath album, so it’s not surprising that several artists cover tracks from Paranoid. The combination of heavy metal and William Shatner isn’t one that many people would expect. However, it works and  William Shatner boldly goes where he’s never gone before.

Just like previous instalments in Cleopatra Records Tribute To and Salute To series’, Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Saluter To Black Sabbath is the perfect way for people to discover bands they may never have heard of before. This includes Cancer Bats, Bloody Hammers, Stoned Jesus, Death Hawks, House Of Broken Promises, Witch Mountain and Pentagram? Each of these bands are talented and capable of producing hard rocking music. The future of rock is safe in their hands. That’s apparent as one listens to Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Saluter To Black Sabbath.

Sadly, many people won’t have heard of these bands…until now. Hopefully, they will go out and seek out their music. Just like Black Sabbath, many of these bands have a rich back-catalogue. Especially groups like Cancer Bats, Stoned Jesus, Death Hawks and Ulver. They’re all experienced bands that are no stranger to a recording studio. These groups are old school, unlike the latest generation of laptop musicians. 

They can neither read nor write music. Forget about playing an instrument. That to them, is so last year. The reality is, they wouldn’t no what to do with a guitar or bass. Instead, they make music with a cheap laptop and a cracked copy of Pro Tools. The results are usually disastrous. They try to tell you it’s trap. In reality, it’s crap. Unlike the music that real musicians like those on Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Salute To Black Sabbath make.

It’s groups like Cancer Bats, Bloody Hammers, Stoned Jesus, Death Hawks, House Of Broken Promises, Witch Mountain and Ulver that deserve to be receiving critical acclaim and commercial success, rather than DJs, producers and remixers. When the history of music is written, their legacy will be negligible. That’s unlike groups like Black Sabbath and the groups that salute them on Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Salute To Black Sabbath. They’re talented and are the future of music. 

Fittingly, music’s past and present meet head-on on Sweet Leaf-A Stoner Salute To Black Sabbath, which is a fitting tribute to one of the unholy trinity of rock. 

SWEET LEAF-A STONER SALUTE TO BLACK SABBATH. 

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