Black Sabbath’s Technical Ecstasy was a bitter pill for fans to swallow. The band was no longer hungry, most of them had nothing left in the can. Drugs had taken over the band and the music suffered. Sabbath strayed away from their roots and gave us perhaps the worst album in their recording catalog. However, a song like “She’s Gone” is a polished gem that stood out from the lot. “It’s Alright,” is the first time we hear Bill Ward sing on a Sabbath album. There was nothing technical or ecstatic about this album. It was a train wreck from the beginning. It is rare if ever any songs are played live from this album. Time can be forgiving, Rhino has given us an extremely extended version of the album with new live songs and 90 minutes of new studio outtakes and alternate versions of the songs recorded. This deep dive is a welcome addition and perhaps salvation to a greatly misunderstood album. This offering is meant for the true Black Sabbath super-fan.
Black Sabbath embraced change in 1976 when the heavy metal innovators started managing themselves and began exploring different sounds on the band’s seventh studio album, TECHNICAL ECSTASY. The record reached #13 in the U.K. and was certified Gold in the U.S.
We’re honoring this daring album with a collection that includes a newly remastered version of the original, a brand-new mix by Steven Wilson, plus more than 90 minutes of previously unreleased outtakes, alternative mixes and live tracks. TECHNICAL ECSTASY: SUPER DELUXE EDITION will be available on October 1st as a 4CD set and 5LP set on 180-gram black vinyl. The remastered studio album will be available the same day on digital download and streaming services.
In the July 2001 issue of Guitar World, Dan Epstein wrote, “The sessions proved extremely relaxing for everyone except Iommi, who was left to oversee the production while the others sunned themselves on the beach.” Iommi explained to the same magazine in 1992, “We recorded the album in Miami, and nobody would take responsibility for the production. No one wanted to bring in an outside person for help, and no one wanted the whole band to produce it. So they left it all to me!”
In 1992, Iommi admitted to Guitar World: “Black Sabbath fans generally don’t like much of Technical Ecstasy. It was really a no-win situation for us. If we had stayed the same, people would have said we were still doing the same old stuff. So we tried to get a little more technical, and it just didn’t work out very well.”
The band struggled to finish the album, “rock had spawned a new set of iconoclasts as the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned… Suddenly Sabbath found themselves both unsure of their musical direction and labeled as has-beens.” “It’s not like now: If you’re a heavy metal band, you put out a heavy metal album”, Butler explained to Uncut in 2014. “Back then, you had to at least try to be modern and keep up. Punk was massive then and we felt that our time had come and gone.”
“That was the beginning of the end, that one”, bassist Geezer Butler confessed to Guitar World in 2001. “We were managing ourselves because we couldn’t trust anybody. Everybody was trying to rip us off, including the lawyers we’d hired to get us out of our legal mess. It was really just getting to us around then, and we didn’t know what we were doing. And obviously, the music was suffering; you could just feel the whole thing falling apart.”
Ozzy Osbourne admitted he had begun to consider leaving the band during this time: “I’d even had a T-shirt made with ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ written on the front. Meanwhile, in the studio, Tony (Iommi) was always saying, ‘We’ve gotta sound like Foreigner’, or ‘We’ve gotta sound like Queen.’ But I thought it was strange that the bands we’d once influenced were now influencing us.” Osbourne also wrote that the cost of recording in Florida “was astronomical” and that he’d “lost the plot with the booze and the drugs” during the recording of Technical Ecstasy, eventually checking himself into the Stafford County Asylum on his return to England.
The cover art was designed by Hipgnosis. Ozzy Osbourne once described it as “two robots screwing on an escalator”.
In the summer of 1976, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward headed to Miami to record TECHNICAL ECSTASY at the famed Criteria Studios. The band was coming off a world tour for their previous album, SABOTAGE, that had found their live performances evolving to include keyboards and synthesizers. These newly incorporated instruments and sounds were then introduced into the recording process on Technical Ecstasy. The new songs encompassed a wide range of styles from the hard-charging “Back Street Kids” and ballad “It’s Alright,” to the funky “All Moving Parts (Stand Still)” and progressive “Gypsy.” The album also featured the single “It’s Alright,” which was the first Sabbath song to feature lead vocals by Ward. The Deluxe Edition presents a newly remastered version of the eight-track album, along with an entirely new mix of the album created by Steven Wilson using the original analog tapes.
TECHNICAL ECSTASY: SUPER DELUXE EDITION comes with eight previously unreleased outtakes and alternative mixes. Among those are different mixes of “You Won’t Change Me” and “Rock ’n’ Roll Doctor,” as well as both outtake and instrumental versions for “She’s Gone.” The collection concludes with 10 previously unreleased live tracks recorded during the 1976-77 Technical Ecstasy World Tour. The songs touch on different eras of the band’s history with early tracks like “Black Sabbath” and “War Pigs” alongside new songs “Gypsy” and “Dirty Women.”
The collection comes with an extensive booklet featuring artwork, liner notes, rare memorabilia and photos from the era, plus a replica of the 1976-77 world tour concert book and a large color poster.