Recent infighting aside, Black Sabbath is one of the few bands that has remained relevant without ever leaving its early ‘70s radio-friendly fare (and God forbid they ever mention the equally amazing
work of the Ronnie James Dio era). We never hear anything beyond the basics; Ozzy, Geezer, Tony, and Bill are boiled down to this and its airwave companion, “Paranoid”. We’ve picked this track because of the unnecessary superhero connection (actually, the song has no connection to the Marvel mainstay) as well as its age. Sabbath has done more than this in the last 42 years.
When you consider its career started in the psychedelic ‘60s and survived thorough the dinosaur and disco mire of the ‘70s, it seems sacrilegious to summarize this classic band down to one ridiculously dumb song. Out of context, it play’s like Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” for snotty little private school brats. Within the storyline set up for The Wall by primary composer Roger Waters, it’s still weak. Sure, “Comfortably Numb” comes a close second, but Dave Gilmour’s soulful chorus work saves it. Here we get a playground chant wrongly championed as Floyd’s finest hour.
Now, no one is asking modern radio stations to go back and play songs they didn’t want to champion some 30 years before, but with the wealth of wonderful tunes created by this Athens, Georgia party combo, you figure they could do better than this overplayed train wreck of a track. Between the purposed Southern slant to the pre-ending “Tin roof… rusted”, the quirk and pandering attitude are just obnoxious. And when you consider everything from “Planet Claire” to “Dry County”, this ditzy dance band deserves better.
It’s all Cameron Crowe’s fault. While the ‘70s post-Fab Four savior has braved the last few decades quite well (he’s had more hits and should-have-beens than many in his chart position), his catalog circa the beginning of the Me Decade has been trivialized to the point of predictability. First, it was “Levon”. Then it became “Crocodile Rock”. Now, in between the occasional airings of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘s title track, you get a nonstop streaming of this admittedly beautiful ballad. Damn you, Almost Famous.
Thankfully, the late great Joe Strummer was cremated. Otherwise, he’d probably be spinning wildly in his grave over how his beloved and politically important Clash is immortalized today. To think that the onetime “Only Band That Matters” has been turned into the two-tune titans of “Rock the Casbah” and this… perhaps the group’s worst, most overtly commercial track ever. Even though the Clash made amazing music long before Combat Rock, you almost never hear anything from its delightful 1977 debut or the uneven follow-up, Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978). Instead, it’s all ‘50s flash chords and call-and-response choruses. Sad.