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Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe by [Wall, Mick]
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Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Length: 392 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

The band's uppers and downers are recounted here with amusing and sobering appraisal, making this an entertaining read for long-standing fans and newcomers alike. (GUITARIST)

Wall has a marvellous turn of phrase... required reading for all fans, regardless of their preferred era. (IRISH NEWS)

Wall delivers the book he was born to write. (CLASSIC ROCK MAGAZINE)

...the book's research was super, getting the balance between fact and fiction spot on destroying a lot of the myths surrounding the band and also giving great insight into the Bill Ward debacle. (Kevin Bell Waterstones.com)

..the real advantage that Wall enjoys over all the other Sabbath biographers is that he worked for the musicians as a PR and knew them all personally... as a result (he) is able to portray the Sabbath members as they really are. ...It's an epic tale, told the way it should be. (Joel McIver RECORD COLLECTOR)

Wall has a marvellous turn of phrase... required reading for all fans, regardless of their preferred era. (Irish News)

Book Description

The final word on the only name synonymous with heavy metal - Black Sabbath.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3291 KB
  • Print Length: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (7 Nov. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DS9FU7I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #168,606 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
According to the publishers, Symptom of the Universe is, “The final word on the only name synonymous with heavy metal.” And they may be right.

Sabbath got together at the tail end of the 1960’s. They became one of the biggest groups in the world by ’74 then split in ’79. The following year they came back with a new singer and then fragmented into an Iommi project until the mid-1990s.

This was the third Black Sabbath book that I read in quick succession. Symptom of the Universe is definitely the most rigorous. The first was I Am Ozzy, then Iron Man: the memoirs of Tony Iommi and now this, Symptom of the Universe. Former Sabbath PR man, music journalist and biographer Mick Wall’s book helps to fill in the blanks present in the first two autobiographies.

Wall presents a detached third-party perspective of the band and its history. All three books chart follow the same arc:

– four working class people come together to follow a dream,
– struggle, get an increasing amount of success,
– develop massive egos,
– take too many drugs and booze,
– go bonkers,
– fall out,
– get lawyers involved,
– then, start to play music together again.

Wall does a nice job of piecing together massive amounts of information: various interviews, archival material, thoughts and reminiscences from his own personal experience with the band and parts from other autobiographies and books. This is all linked together in a coherent and readable narrative. Wall also sits on the fence maintaining an air of neutrality and disinterest. By not taking sides this helps to guide the reader through the fragmented drug addled story of the band.

Symptom of the Universe benefits from not relying on just the memories or opinions of one person.
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Format: Hardcover
Outside of objectively verifiable scientific phenomena, it seems that truth is a much more subjective and ambiguous quality than we might think. Where people are concerned, this is even more so. Thus rock stars are frequently buried under an avalanche of myths, legends and a culturally constructed received wisdom. Rarely does one come away from a rock biography with a genuine feel for the human beings behind the music. It is here where Mick Wall always excels. Of course, having worked with and for the principles, on and off, over a 35-year span, gives Mick a crucial insight unavailable to other chroniclers. Thus we have something here which is fascinating, compelling and thought-provoking.
Rich in detail and with an obvious fascination with the people, rather than with producing a glorified career review, makes this essential for any fan of contemporary music and the artists who shape it.
I should declare an interest; I worked as researcher on this book for Mick and it was a revelation to see dull and prosaic matters of fact brought to vivid life lending fresh insight and awareness.
Few would argue that Sabbath invented mental and now the reader can really meet the men who fashioned an international cultural phenomenon.
Tony Iommi: affable prankster or mean-spirited bully? Ozzy: clown prince of rock 'n' roll or puppet of Sharon? Both? Neither?
Thoroughly recommended. another unqualified winner for Wall.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As you would expect from someone of Mick Walls pedigree, this is a very well written book in terms of page turning value. His Iron Maiden biog is excellent. Obviously the Sabbath story has enough twists and turns to keep you interested, but Wall knows what he's doing in structuring a book to keep the reader enthralled as well as just being a good writer. Not only that, this book covers the whole history of the band and a fair bit on solo stuff, too (possibly too much at one point).

Now here's the thing, though- the reason for my review is that this is written firstly from the perspective of a journalist (bad) but secondly from the perspective of someone who was 'there' for some of it and lived through other bits. This is not a nerd-like factual book from an obsessive fan when every detail is discussed, but a look at the band from a personal point of view. Something which hasn't actually been done before, other than actual band member biographies.

The problem with this is that it tends to toe the band-myth line rather than looking for the truth and I get the impression that he knows certain people involved with the band and is having to push a certain point of view which isn't entirely accurate in a way that an impartial obsessive wouldn't need to.

Certain things are glossed over such as Geoff Nicholl's role in the writing of Heaven and Hell (and the rest) and he's relegated to being a comical side man to Tony Iommi's folly. Very entertaining if this were fiction. Not 100% untrue, but the positives of his role seem to have been forgotten. I get the impression that Wall feels that he can't have played a role in writing H&H because he wasn't visible on stage and isn't the subject of rock hero-worship silliness.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Symptom of the Universe is a comprehensive telling of the Black Sabbath story in it's many incarnations from the Band's beginning until 2013. Mick Wall's book is definitely a "warts and all" tale, Tony Iommi in particular coming across as a nasty,bullying and selfish individual,though it has to be said he's hardly unique in that respect in the music world portrayed in the book with thuggish managers,cruel practical jokes and rip offs,stitch ups and bitchiness seemingly the way things are done in the music industry,or at least throughout Sabbath's history.
Mick Wall knows his subjects very well and while his prose sometimes lapses into Music magazine pretentiousness his insight and ability to get under the skin of the various weird,wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful characters in the Sabbath story bring the book to life. Sabbath's story is almost like a soap opera and Mick Wall does a great job of detailing the personality clashes, arguments and dirty deeds that led to the constant "revolving door" of personnel changes. I'm no heavy metal anorak but I enjoyed the back stories and details of the various artists that came and went and ended the book with a far greater respect for Sharon Osbourne, who I only really knew before as "the mouthy bird off the telly".
A great read that entertains while informing,I'd like to have read a bit more about the sinister Don Arden, Sharon Osbourne's father, who I know as an avid true crime reader was just one of the thuggish figures involved in the music business of that era.
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