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  1. #1

    Default Black Sabbath (book) - Symptom of the Universe by Mike Wall

    So I picked up this for 9.99 the other day to read on the bus.

    http://www.amazon.com/Black-Sabbath-...erse+mike+wall

    I wasnt expecting too much, but a brief flick through had some nice pics I have never seen before and seemed to cover ALL eras of Black Sabbath. Having read through it now, its an odd read. It is hardly a definitive biography, more a loose narrative of the bands history told through various vague recollections by band members. It was not clear what his association was with the band but it was written like he had first hand (but hazy) recollections like he was actually there.

    The writing style was actually a lot easier and more enjoyable to read than the Joel McIver book, but seemed more to do with the crazy lifestyles, drug use, groupies and the general circus of Black Sabbath from Polka Tulk until 13. I have read many many many stories of the Black Sabbath history, and have to say I was surprised with a few in this book which I had never heard of before. But the hazy and vague style makes me wonder how much truth there is to all of them ( e.g Sharon bailing Tony out of Jail in exchange for the rights to the Black Sabbath name). Its an interesting diversion, but the writer sounds as druggy and incoherent as the band members he is writing about.

    anyone else read this one?

  2. #2

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    I saw this at a local bookstore yesterday and read some excerpts. Mick Wall's approach to writing comes off as a bit sensationalistic at times. That's not intended as a putdown, it's simply an opinion. That said, he did work with Sabbath as a publicist in the 70's, so if nothing else, he can say he was "there". Still, I prefer the books that Martin Popoff wrote: 'Doom Let Loose' and 'Black Sabbath FAQ'. Even though I strongly disagree with some of his reviews of the albums, overall his books are arguably the most informative of the Sabbath reading material that's out there ( ).

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    oh lord yeah!'s Avatar
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    honest opinion? shit. im yet to read a sabbath book that really pulls me in, best one is probably doomlet loose. ive got five sabbath books overall. anyone read rat salad? it deals with the bands first 6 albums and the writer gives his musical opinion on the albums and songs and to be fair its not bad.

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    OzzyIsDio's Avatar
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    I tried getting Rat Salad at my record shop but it was sold out.
    "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"
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    Quote Originally Posted by oh lord yeah! View Post
    honest opinion? shit. im yet to read a sabbath book that really pulls me in, best one is probably doomlet loose. ive got five sabbath books overall. anyone read rat salad? it deals with the bands first 6 albums and the writer gives his musical opinion on the albums and songs and to be fair its not bad.
    Yeah I have that one, I don't like it very much- I don't think that guy "gets" Sabbath to be honest.
    It's been years since I read it, but from memory he is pretty dismissive of a lot of great songs.

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    oh lord yeah!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheels Of Confusion View Post
    Yeah I have that one, I don't like it very much- I don't think that guy "gets" Sabbath to be honest.
    It's been years since I read it, but from memory he is pretty dismissive of a lot of great songs.
    yeah he dismisses symptom of the universe which i think is bonkers, and other songs. its an interesting read but hes well off the mark on some points.

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    I just got it and after reading through it a bit it there is less meat on the bone and more of this guy bullshitting giving his takes on this and that. A few tidbits here and there but familiar territory. Pictures have all been seen a thousand times and the amount of time given to certain albums or eras is a few pages at best. There appears to be some factual errors too and yes, gratuitous mentioning of Tony’s coke habit. It’s nice to have a new book but I’m already looking towards the next one. Maybe the one by the road crew.

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    Requiem's Avatar
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    I have 'Symptom of the Universe' by Mick Wall and I think it's great. As someone else mentioned, Wall worked with Sabbath as a PR guy, but I don't think it was in the 70s - I think it was a little later than that, maybe even late 80s.

    Mick Wall's biggest claim to fame though is as the lead writer for Kerrang throughout the 80s. He met the bands, attended the parties, flew to the gigs and festivals and basically lived the rock n roll lifestyle. He also hosted his own television show for a while too. I have no problem with Mick Wall's credentials as a person who knew Black Sabbath inside and out.

    What I love most about the book though, and this goes for all of Wall's books (I have many!), is that he never fawns over his subject. He always calls a spade a spade and doesn't hesitate to call out a dodgy moment/album/action, which makes reading his books generally really enjoyable. His knowledge of the scene is also very detailed.

    I've got huge respect for Mick Wall and I think 'Symptom of the Universe' is a great book on Sabbath. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to get the full story. Compared with other people mentioned here like Joel McIver and Martin Popoff, Mick Wall is much much closer to the band. Remember, he has also written books on Ozzy including the 'official' Ozzy and Sharon biography from a few years back. He's got a long-running association with Ozzy and Sharon and those other books are worth reading too.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Requiem View Post
    I have 'Symptom of the Universe' by Mick Wall and I think it's great. As someone else mentioned, Wall worked with Sabbath as a PR guy, but I don't think it was in the 70s - I think it was a little later than that, maybe even late 80s.

    Mick Wall's biggest claim to fame though is as the lead writer for Kerrang throughout the 80s. He met the bands, attended the parties, flew to the gigs and festivals and basically lived the rock n roll lifestyle. He also hosted his own television show for a while too. I have no problem with Mick Wall's credentials as a person who knew Black Sabbath inside and out.

    What I love most about the book though, and this goes for all of Wall's books (I have many!), is that he never fawns over his subject. He always calls a spade a spade and doesn't hesitate to call out a dodgy moment/album/action, which makes reading his books generally really enjoyable. His knowledge of the scene is also very detailed.

    I've got huge respect for Mick Wall and I think 'Symptom of the Universe' is a great book on Sabbath. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to get the full story. Compared with other people mentioned here like Joel McIver and Martin Popoff, Mick Wall is much much closer to the band. Remember, he has also written books on Ozzy including the 'official' Ozzy and Sharon biography from a few years back. He's got a long-running association with Ozzy and Sharon and those other books are worth reading too.
    'Symptom' by Mick Wall is one of the worst Sabbath books in the market and the number of misinformation and inaccuracies in this particular book makes it a really poor read, as mentioned earlier, the best Sabbath books available are the ones by Martin Popoff's (Doom let Loose , Black Sabbath FAQ and his latest 'Black Sabbath In the Seventies'), another great read would be 'How Black Was Our Sabbath: An Unauthorised View from the Crew' by David Tangye and Graham A. N. Wright.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IRON-MaN View Post
    'Symptom' by Mick Wall is one of the worst Sabbath books in the market and the number of misinformation and inaccuracies in this particular book makes it a really poor read, as mentioned earlier, the best Sabbath books available are the ones by Martin Popoff's (Doom let Loose , Black Sabbath FAQ and his latest 'Black Sabbath In the Seventies'), another great read would be 'How Black Was Our Sabbath: An Unauthorised View from the Crew' by David Tangye and Graham A. N. Wright.
    I have most of these books, the last one I read was Doom Let Loose, I enjoyed it very much, though I don't have the time to read anymore, life is hectic.

    The next books to get on my list are How Black Was Our Sabbath and the latest book you suggested IRON-MaN, "Black Sabbath In The Seventies" is this in hardcover or paperback?
    "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)

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by OzzyIsDio View Post
    I have most of these books, the last one I read was Doom Let Loose, I enjoyed it very much, though I don't have the time to read anymore, life is hectic.

    The next books to get on my list are How Black Was Our Sabbath and the latest book you suggested IRON-MaN, "Black Sabbath In The Seventies" is this in hardcover or paperback?
    Paperback , there is no hardcover version of this book so far.

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    OzzyIsDio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IRON-MaN View Post
    Paperback , there is no hardcover version of this book so far.
    Thank you IRON-MaN, I always try to get the hardcover edition if it's available, paperback is good.

    Thank you for accepting my friendship request.
    "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)

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by OzzyIsDio View Post
    Thank you IRON-MaN, I always try to get the hardcover edition if it's available, paperback is good.

    Thank you for accepting my friendship request.
    OID ... As for books that represent , trust the Doc here , "How Black ..." takes the cake , without question ....

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    OzzyIsDio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BACK TO EDEN View Post
    OID ... As for books that represent , trust the Doc here , "How Black ..." takes the cake , without question ....
    Doc my trust in you is 100% you've never steered me wrong on Sabbath.
    "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)

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    I bought this book in Canada several months ago. I've never seen it in a U.S. bookstore.

    The thing that bugged me about the book was how he kept hammering the drum about Tony Iommi's cocaine use, as if he couldn't take a shit without taking a toot.

    Come on...I know Tony did blow - they ALL did; who in the '70s/'80s DIDN'T except Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Ted Nugent? - but if Iommi hoovered up half of Colombia, as Wall seems to imply, surely he'd be dead.

    I also don't like the blatant disrespect he shows the singers after Ronnie James Dio left, as if there were no good songs on those albums.

    I would say he does do some "fawning" in this book - after Ozzy.

    And I would say it is bullshit that Iommi signed the rights over to Sharon Osbourne for bailing him out of jail. His autobiography surely doesn't state that.

    Funnily enough, my favourite Sabbath book is still Chris Welch's, even though there is more than a bit of "Ozzy-fawning" in it.
    He is not here. He has risen!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DiosSword View Post
    Funnily enough, my favourite Sabbath book is still Chris Welch's, even though there is more than a bit of "Ozzy-fawning" in it.
    Is this the book that wrongly states Ozzy was in the Magic Lanterns?
    "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)

  17. #17

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    The Wall and McIver books have many errors, so it's best to stick with the Tangye/Wright, Sharpe-Young, and the Popoff books Doom Let Loose and FAQ. The Welch is pretty good, but old (1982). The thing is these books don't really do is talk about the actual music--Popoff kindly said about my book, Experiencing Black Sabbath: "Nolan Stolz has impressively found a way to add to the current writings on Black Sabbath, most notably with his detailed deconstruction of each song" because I describe the music, and within a historical context. The Wilkinson (Rat Salad) attempts that, but does it incorrectly. I've yet to read Popoff's latest books, but I'm sure they're good--and a different approach than I take.

    Regarding paperback/hardcover, usually only major publishers will do a hardcover because they are so expensive to produce. Most don't re-release in softcover, but sometimes they do. No sense on waiting for a different version--just get it if it's available.

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    DiosSword's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OzzyIsDio View Post
    Is this the book that wrongly states Ozzy was in the Magic Lanterns?
    Yes, it does.
    He is not here. He has risen!

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by DiosSword View Post
    Funnily enough, my favourite Sabbath book is still Chris Welch's, even though there is more than a bit of "Ozzy-fawning" in it.
    Chris Welch's is the only Sabbath book I have. I've read it having been described as 'disastrously confusing' and by and large it's hard to disagree with that observation. It does have quite a few good colour and b&w photos and concert adverts throughout and tends to concentrate it's details on the formative years of the Group.

    Ted

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    OzzyIsDio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiosSword View Post
    Yes, it does.
    I bought The Magic Lanterns album because of that and still have it.
    "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)

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