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Dissecting "Wheels Of Confusion"

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  • Dissecting "Wheels Of Confusion"

    Wheels Of Confusion... you could hold a college semester course on dissecting this song. I was 15 when I bought my 1st Sab album and Vol4 it was. This song, this epic structure was a turning point after the first 3 bedrock albums. From the opening strains of that pseudo blues solo to the twists and turns of one riff after another culminating with that dinosaur riff right before Ozzy blurts out "Lost in the wheels of confusion...." da da da-da da-da-da, da-da-da daaa...da da da-da- da-da-da..da-da-da daaaa powerful enough for the earth to literally shake! Starting out with a look back at his childhood in all it's safe and fairy tale-ish splendor, soon the days were passing into years and happiness just didn't come so easy...before reality sets in to find oneself "lost" in eyes full of angry delusions hiding in everyday fears... there I was 15 in the middle of childhood and adulthood and that's when I discovered Black Sabbath, not to sound sacrilegious, but I had discovered this new music, this "religion" known as Black Sabbath! Where did Iommi come up with the structure was it bits and pieces of unfinished songs, riffs hanging in the subconscious? It's like no other song in Sabbath's multi layered arsenal, nor any other band's for that matter...and Ward's drumming... just unbelievable! A true tour de force! And then just when you think this epic journey is over, the sound of an acoustic guitar being plucked, and then Bam! in comes this crushing chord! And the outro, in some places known as The Straightner as the band churns on and solo after solo pierce the star covered night! The album was a bridge from where they started to where they would go and lead us all... all of us... under the sun...
    "Music is so sacred to me that I canít hear wishy-washy nonsense just played for the sake of selling records."
    R. Blackmore

  • #2
    Great post Wicked, I just bought the book Black Sabbath-Song by Song, I’ll look that song up when I get the book.
    "Without Black Sabbath there never would have been an Ozzy, and without Ozzy there never would have been a Black Sabbath"
    "If there ever was a band whose voice is so significant and distinct, that band is Black Sabbath and the voice is Ozzy Osbourne"
    ________________________________________OzzyIsDio_ (YoY)

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by OzzyIsDio View Post
      Great post Wicked, I just bought the book Black Sabbath-Song by Song, I’ll look that song up when I get the book.
      sounds good OID!
      "Music is so sacred to me that I canít hear wishy-washy nonsense just played for the sake of selling records."
      R. Blackmore

      Comment


      • #4
        I can save the trouble there - as the author of that book, I'm quite happy to share my thoughts on the song from the Vol 4 chapter...

        'One of the strongest opening tracks on any Sabbath album, and an often overlooked classic, it is obvious from the very beginning of Wheels Of Confusion that the band are stretching themselves out somewhat, as Tony Iommi’s strident guitar theme comes in with magisterial power over a funereal-paced, brutally heavy chord sequence. This morphs into a rolling, unstoppable riff, sounding like great tombstones being slowly pushed down a hillside, and the sound is instantly fuller, bigger, more inexorably powerful than anything which has gone before. Iommi’s idea to produce the album himself certainly appears to have paid dividends because, together with the new recording studio – and possibly the blizzard of cocaine around at the time – there is a feeling of the music both breathing and paradoxically feeling claustrophobic at the same time. When Ozzy comes in declaiming ‘Long ago I wandered through my mind..’, it’s clear that Butler’s lyric writing has moved into a somewhat more metaphysical area than his previous subjects, and this all adds to the epic feel which the track, and indeed the album as a whole, exudes. A bleak message dealing with the futility of earthly endeavours unfolds (‘The world will still be turning when you’re gone’), interspersed with one typically frenetic trademark Sabbath mid-section breaking things up superbly. As the song winds to its apparent conclusion, a suddenly triumphant, celebratory coda emerges, with Iommi soloing over an irresistible, descending chord progression, and via a lengthy fade-out, we are at the end of a marvellous eight minute statement of intent. Note: that lengthy climactic section is sometimes given the separate title of The Straightener, and when played (infrequently) live, the band would omit this section, probably owing to the amount of overdubbed guitars involved.'

        Hope that's of use. Every single song on every single album is covered in a similar fashion - some longer and some shorter. Please, check it out on Amazon! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Sabba.../dp/178155661X

        Comment


        • #5
          Was lurking at the Hoffman site the other day and there is coincidentally a great thread on Vol. 4 (also one on SBS and Sabotage).

          http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/thread...-thread.735979

          Check out this great breakdown of "Wheels" by a guy with the handle "Rose River Bear"on page 7. Very cool.

          Wheels of Confusion from Vol. 4 by Black Sabbath

          As with Into The Void, the guitar sounds a whole and one half step lower than the music notated below.

          Another gem on par with War Pigs. Iommi and the band really show off their writing genius on this one. My favorite song from Volume 4. An amazing opener on an amazing album. Knocked me for a loop when it was first released.

          The song starts off with a trademark Sabbath intro...and what an intro it is! The intro is based on the following chords which Iommi plays arpeggio style (one note at a time).....G Minor, G Minor 7th, F 6th Suspended 4, F 9th Suspended 4......very jazz influenced. Iommi plays a very jazzy sounding line over the chords. The F 9th Sus 4 chord has a D sharp note in it so your ear gets set up for the dramatic entrance for the D Major chord at :21. This is what a great intro is meant to do.....add drama to the section which follows at the point of entrance. The main riff enters .....based around the D major chord second position. Iommi adds a quick 5th string hammer on/ pull off line at :24. This motif is 4 notes but is played so quickly it is hard to tell how many notes there are. This gives the entire riff an almost Humble Pie boogie type feel. The verse riff moves along until :30 where Ozzy enters with a great melody line. The verse moves along until at 1:09, Iommi throws in a triplet based ascending cadence using pulloffs and a C major descending arpeggio which is the third distinct series of notes in the cadence. This C major arpeggio will arise again in the song.

          The verse returns at 1:29 and moves along until the repeat of the cadence at 2:00. At 2:19 the cadence is extended using arpeggios with the first being the C major arpeggio. The cadence descends to an A sharp note setting up a sense of anticipation for the next section which drops to A Major. At 2:26 the tempo changes to a boogie feel with Iommi using his trademark hammer on /open string octave type riff. This time the riff is a hammer on from the fifth fret to the seventh fret of the 4th string with the open fifth string (lower octave A) as it's bottom. This riff is similar to what Iommi uses in the verse riff of Into The Void. This new section of the song is an extended interlude. The entire section has a very loose jam feel to it. At 2:36 Iommi plays some sliding double notes until at 2:40 he plays a harmonized single string motif based on A pentatonic. Bill Ward and Geezer do a great job keeping the tempo grounded under Iommi's ever changing guitar flourishes. At 2:52 Iommi starts an awesome series of tiered ascending/ descending double note patterns which wind up on the A Chord (e.g. 2:53, 2:58) at the end of each "ladder". At 3:26 Iommi extends the ascending pattern to a G chord but this time eliminates the steps (rungs in the ladder) downward which gives the feeling of resolution to the section. Brilliant subtle changes which move the tune along regardless of its loose jam feel. At 3:32 a bridge section starts with Iommi playing some vicious power chords of A-C-D-E Flat ascending then descending. Ozzy adds a bridge verse/chorus letting us know he is lost in the Wheels of Confusion. The bridge moves along until at 3:59 where the ascending cadence re enters but at a slightly faster tempo than earlier. At 4:08 the descending cadence re enters also at a faster tempo than previous. An E Major chord is subtly added to the end of the descending part of the cadence at 4:15 to give a smooth whole step transition to the D Major verse riff. The verse moves along again until at 4:55, the ascending cadence appears again, the verse riff repeats and the ascending cadence is then repeated until the song comes to a close at 5:13 ending on the D Chord. "The Straightener" which is an extended coda, follows.

          It is interesting to note that this song has another Ozzy trademark.....the use of refrains. A refrain is used to lyrically resolve a verse. In this case the refrains are "Was an Illusion" and "Yeah When You're Gone". Refrains are typically louder than the verse lines. Another example is found in War Pigs. Take three guesses what the refrain is in War Pigs.....the first two don't count. :D:D
          "It is not opinion that Ozzy peaked on Sabotage, it is a measurable fact."
          -WTB

          Comment


          • #6
            Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Jeff View Post
              Was lurking at the Hoffman site the other day and there is coincidentally a great thread on Vol. 4 (also one on SBS and Sabotage).

              http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/thread...-thread.735979

              Check out this great breakdown of "Wheels" by a guy with the handle "Rose River Bear"on page 7. Very cool.

              Wheels of Confusion from Vol. 4 by Black Sabbath

              As with Into The Void, the guitar sounds a whole and one half step lower than the music notated below.

              Another gem on par with War Pigs. Iommi and the band really show off their writing genius on this one. My favorite song from Volume 4. An amazing opener on an amazing album. Knocked me for a loop when it was first released.

              The song starts off with a trademark Sabbath intro...and what an intro it is! The intro is based on the following chords which Iommi plays arpeggio style (one note at a time).....G Minor, G Minor 7th, F 6th Suspended 4, F 9th Suspended 4......very jazz influenced. Iommi plays a very jazzy sounding line over the chords. The F 9th Sus 4 chord has a D sharp note in it so your ear gets set up for the dramatic entrance for the D Major chord at :21. This is what a great intro is meant to do.....add drama to the section which follows at the point of entrance. The main riff enters .....based around the D major chord second position. Iommi adds a quick 5th string hammer on/ pull off line at :24. This motif is 4 notes but is played so quickly it is hard to tell how many notes there are. This gives the entire riff an almost Humble Pie boogie type feel. The verse riff moves along until :30 where Ozzy enters with a great melody line. The verse moves along until at 1:09, Iommi throws in a triplet based ascending cadence using pulloffs and a C major descending arpeggio which is the third distinct series of notes in the cadence. This C major arpeggio will arise again in the song.

              The verse returns at 1:29 and moves along until the repeat of the cadence at 2:00. At 2:19 the cadence is extended using arpeggios with the first being the C major arpeggio. The cadence descends to an A sharp note setting up a sense of anticipation for the next section which drops to A Major. At 2:26 the tempo changes to a boogie feel with Iommi using his trademark hammer on /open string octave type riff. This time the riff is a hammer on from the fifth fret to the seventh fret of the 4th string with the open fifth string (lower octave A) as it's bottom. This riff is similar to what Iommi uses in the verse riff of Into The Void. This new section of the song is an extended interlude. The entire section has a very loose jam feel to it. At 2:36 Iommi plays some sliding double notes until at 2:40 he plays a harmonized single string motif based on A pentatonic. Bill Ward and Geezer do a great job keeping the tempo grounded under Iommi's ever changing guitar flourishes. At 2:52 Iommi starts an awesome series of tiered ascending/ descending double note patterns which wind up on the A Chord (e.g. 2:53, 2:58) at the end of each "ladder". At 3:26 Iommi extends the ascending pattern to a G chord but this time eliminates the steps (rungs in the ladder) downward which gives the feeling of resolution to the section. Brilliant subtle changes which move the tune along regardless of its loose jam feel. At 3:32 a bridge section starts with Iommi playing some vicious power chords of A-C-D-E Flat ascending then descending. Ozzy adds a bridge verse/chorus letting us know he is lost in the Wheels of Confusion. The bridge moves along until at 3:59 where the ascending cadence re enters but at a slightly faster tempo than earlier. At 4:08 the descending cadence re enters also at a faster tempo than previous. An E Major chord is subtly added to the end of the descending part of the cadence at 4:15 to give a smooth whole step transition to the D Major verse riff. The verse moves along again until at 4:55, the ascending cadence appears again, the verse riff repeats and the ascending cadence is then repeated until the song comes to a close at 5:13 ending on the D Chord. "The Straightener" which is an extended coda, follows.

              It is interesting to note that this song has another Ozzy trademark.....the use of refrains. A refrain is used to lyrically resolve a verse. In this case the refrains are "Was an Illusion" and "Yeah When You're Gone". Refrains are typically louder than the verse lines. Another example is found in War Pigs. Take three guesses what the refrain is in War Pigs.....the first two don't count. :D:D
              Hope your well brother Jeff ,,,, a nice break down indeed - from an IOMMI perspective at least ,, great read!!

              Thankyou for that.

              Comment


              • #8
                One word: relentless! Wheels of Confusion just keeps attacking. How is this classic my 4th favorite track on Vol 4?

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't dislike this song. However, I will say it's not on my Greatest Hits double-album. I find the verse sections rather dreary, the intro sappy, the riff/breakdown after the versus kind of klunky. The mid-section is pretty great, to be fair but yet even this is brought down by an uninspired performance from Ozzy. He's middling through, passionless. "The Straightener" is a great listen just for the delight that is endless Iommi trilling. The production tones of Volume 4 color the whole thing in mustard and brown "colors" to my ears. It's like a dying sunflower on a pile of autumn leaves.

                  This same production value works on "Under the Sun" and "Snowblind" though evoking different colors and tones, while the same colors and tones don't bring down tracks like Tomorrow's Dream and Supernaut, which both move along nicely and have more to offer in terms of passion and stronger themes.

                  I consider Volume 4 a side-bar from what I feel is "real" Black Sabbath. It's a fine album, but it's kind of a slice of Olive loaf between slices of artisan bread.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BACK TO EDEN View Post
                    Hope your well brother Jeff ,,,, a nice break down indeed - from an IOMMI perspective at least ,, great read!!

                    Thankyou for that.
                    Glad you enjoyed it, Doc.

                    Always the best to you!
                    "It is not opinion that Ozzy peaked on Sabotage, it is a measurable fact."
                    -WTB

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pilks View Post
                      I can save the trouble there - as the author of that book, I'm quite happy to share my thoughts on the song from the Vol 4 chapter...

                      'One of the strongest opening tracks on any Sabbath album, and an often overlooked classic, it is obvious from the very beginning of Wheels Of Confusion that the band are stretching themselves out somewhat, as Tony Iommi’s strident guitar theme comes in with magisterial power over a funereal-paced, brutally heavy chord sequence. This morphs into a rolling, unstoppable riff, sounding like great tombstones being slowly pushed down a hillside, and the sound is instantly fuller, bigger, more inexorably powerful than anything which has gone before. Iommi’s idea to produce the album himself certainly appears to have paid dividends because, together with the new recording studio – and possibly the blizzard of cocaine around at the time – there is a feeling of the music both breathing and paradoxically feeling claustrophobic at the same time. When Ozzy comes in declaiming ‘Long ago I wandered through my mind..’, it’s clear that Butler’s lyric writing has moved into a somewhat more metaphysical area than his previous subjects, and this all adds to the epic feel which the track, and indeed the album as a whole, exudes. A bleak message dealing with the futility of earthly endeavours unfolds (‘The world will still be turning when you’re gone’), interspersed with one typically frenetic trademark Sabbath mid-section breaking things up superbly. As the song winds to its apparent conclusion, a suddenly triumphant, celebratory coda emerges, with Iommi soloing over an irresistible, descending chord progression, and via a lengthy fade-out, we are at the end of a marvellous eight minute statement of intent. Note: that lengthy climactic section is sometimes given the separate title of The Straightener, and when played (infrequently) live, the band would omit this section, probably owing to the amount of overdubbed guitars involved.'

                      Hope that's of use. Every single song on every single album is covered in a similar fashion - some longer and some shorter. Please, check it out on Amazon! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Sabba.../dp/178155661X
                      great description, I've often used the word suffocating when describing Iommi's heaviest riffs... the 1st 3 albums were pretty much live recordings as Jim Simpson said "you just had to let them plug in and hit the record button", but there's something about VOL4's production that arguably makes it the heaviest off all Sabbath recordings...
                      "Music is so sacred to me that I canít hear wishy-washy nonsense just played for the sake of selling records."
                      R. Blackmore

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Wicked Cricket View Post
                        great description, I've often used the word suffocating when describing Iommi's heaviest riffs... the 1st 3 albums were pretty much live recordings as Jim Simpson said "you just had to let them plug in and hit the record button", but there's something about VOL4's production that arguably makes it the heaviest off all Sabbath recordings...
                        Just like live albums, the first three, isn't that just incredible how the Sab four just melded together like that? It's funny that Vol. 4 was the least listened to, of the Great Eight albums I liked.

                        That soon changed after getting hooked on monsters like Under The Sun/Every Day Comes And Goes, St. Vitus Dance and of course Snowblind and the heaviness of Cornucopia, then after the whole album just took over. And how about that Iconic cover with the peace signs? Just Sabbathly amazing!
                        "Without Black Sabbath there never would have been an Ozzy, and without Ozzy there never would have been a Black Sabbath"
                        "If there ever was a band whose voice is so significant and distinct, that band is Black Sabbath and the voice is Ozzy Osbourne"
                        ________________________________________OzzyIsDio_ (YoY)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OzzyIsDio View Post
                          That soon changed after getting hooked on monsters like Under The Sun/Every Day Comes And Goes, St. Vitus Dance and of course Snowblind and the heaviness of Cornucopia...
                          St. Vitus Dance a 'monster'? Don't get me wrong, I like the song, but a monster?

                          Regarding WOC, I've always quite liked the song. Let's not forget that as the 1st song on Vol.4, it ushered in what Tony has called the 'drug-oriented sound' which permeated both Vol.4 and it's follow-up, SBS.

                          Ted

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ted Sallis View Post
                            St. Vitus Dance a 'monster'? Don't get me wrong, I like the song, but a monster?

                            Regarding WOC, I've always quite liked the song. Let's not forget that as the 1st song on Vol.4, it ushered in what Tony has called the 'drug-oriented sound' which permeated both Vol.4 and it's follow-up, SBS.

                            Ted
                            For me it is, it’s always been one of my favorites on Vol. 4, right up there with Snowblind and Under The Sun.
                            "Without Black Sabbath there never would have been an Ozzy, and without Ozzy there never would have been a Black Sabbath"
                            "If there ever was a band whose voice is so significant and distinct, that band is Black Sabbath and the voice is Ozzy Osbourne"
                            ________________________________________OzzyIsDio_ (YoY)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OzzyIsDio View Post
                              For me it is, itís always been one of my favorites on Vol. 4, right up there with Snowblind and Under The Sun.
                              Okay. I like every song on Vol.4 except Changes (Ozzy's vocals).

                              Ted

                              Comment

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