Archived News 2012
Dec 28, 2012: I'm thrilled to welcome aboard artist Sue Coe, who since 1979 has been producing uncompromising, eye-opening works of arts. Check out her site here.
Dec 11, 2012: I'm very happy to welcome aboard artist Michele Dodds! If you like artists who employ vivid colors in whimsical, fantastic settings, check out her site here.
As regards updates on the book, things are definitely moving forward. I've gotten back all the edits from my editor, and have been utilizing his excellent advice to refine, shape and produce a professional work that I can be proud of. Hopefully, you guys will love it too! Clearly, we're looking at a release date of some time in the new year. I should have more detailed information for you in January. Appreciate your patience in the meantime. It is worth it!
Oct 27, 2012: The Philosophy of Black Sabbath
If you haven't yet, head over to Amazon.com (or your local bookstore) and pick up Black Sabbath and Philosophy: Mastering Reality, by William Irwin (part of the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series). I've posted my review there, and, as noted, proofread the book, which I think is excellent and certainly something those interested in my book are going to want to read. Irwin's book and mine will hopefully be the wellspring of future volumes discussing Black Sabbath's lyrics, but even if not, I think Black Sabbath and Philosophy is a great companion piece to Black Sabbath: The Illustrated Lyrics, in that it presents ideas that are both contrary to and concordant with the ideas that I discuss, and always intelligent and interesting. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy!
Oct 18, 2012: News surfacing on the upcoming album from Iommi/Butler/Osbourne. No word yet on whether things are working out with getting Ward back in, or if the guys have contented themselves with hiring a session drummer. What is known is that Osbourne's recording vocals; there are 15 songs in all, 12 that will appear on the album, and three bonus tracks for special editions (hopefully not split up into different countries like the recent Within Temptation album). Geezer Butler IS writing the lyrics (which is great news), with one song rather enigmatically titled "God is Dead," which I suspect is a bit of a misdirection that may have something to do with the line from "After Forever:" "Perhaps you'll think before you say 'God is dead and gone.'" It may also have to do with the expression: "God is dead. Long live God," which refers to the death of the false image of God that the institutional churches have raised up in place of the God of Love. Given Butler's predisposition to spiritual themes, either of the two is likely. There is no release date set as of yet, though people are suspecting Spring of the coming year. Sharon Osbourne recently announced that there will be an Australian tour, so great news for Aussies!
Oct 3, 2012: I am very pleased to welcome aboard artist Wes Lowe! Wes will be illustrating one of my all-time favorite Black Sabbath songs, "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)" based on an idea I had for the song years ago. A little history. Since I was very young, that song has served to move me, and it to this day, it still does. Like all Black Sabbath songs, it has a kind of magic to transport, and this one really soars across the cosmic realms; the lyrics are also fascinating, trippy and really rather audacious in their own way, but the tale of a sadomasochistic transsexual president was going to be a difficult song to find illustrations for, and I knew I was going to need to have to commission artwork for it. So, I left it open for the right artist to come along and do it justice, and, at long last, I'm thrilled to say that he has! Check out Wes' artwork here!
Sept 25, 2012: Long time since an update, but as today marks the 40th anniversary of Black Sabbath's Vol. 4 (in the U.S., that is; in the U.K., it was Sept 1st), I felt it a good time to give you all a progress report.
I have a professional editor and long-time Black Sabbath fan proofreading and editing the book, and I can honestly say he's proving to be an invaluable wellspring of constructive criticism and encouragement. I'm thrilled to have his assistance, as it's already making this book a lot tighter and stronger. Additionally, I'm starting to see that the book is going to be loaded with images! One thing that a lot of people may not recognize is the process involved in this. Choosing the right illustrations or photographs for a section or song takes thought and time. And there's lots of ways of doing it. I try to be careful to avoid adding images just because they look good. In many cases, when you're dealing with more abstract concepts, you have greater freedom to choose images that capture the feeling and idea more than a specific text. The downside to this is that it takes longer. For example, with a song like "Iron Man," it's much easier to find a fitting image of an anthropomorphic man encased in metal than it is to depict many of the lines in "Looking for Today." The way I handle that is to look at the basic emotions and ideas that the text is conveying. In the latter case, defeat and shame. In a way, this is more interesting since it allows for a multiplicity of options. But as I noted, it's also more time-consuming, and with a book that's already four years in the making, time is valuable. So, as with anything in life, one must strike a balance. I won't compromise the integrity of the book for the sake of an artificial deadline ‒ which is the reason the book didn't come out on Black Sabbath's 40th anniversary. By the same token, in striving for perfection, I won't allow myself to get perfectionistic or self-indulgent. When endeavoring upon any creative venture—and I would love to see more people get involved in whatever capacity they have an interest in, as it's just good for the soul—there are many choices to be made, and, if it's a venture that the public's going to see, opinions will vary wildly over those choices. Some people will love what you've done, while others will viciously tear it apart. In the final analysis, you can't worry about that. You have to love your work (even if there are imperfections--which there will be). There's a window of time with artistic projects. You do it, look over it, fix it, walk away from it, look at it again, fix it, rinse and repeat a few times until you're pretty satisfied. Then you let it go into the world where it will live a life of its own, to be embraced, ignored, derided and everything in-between. Till next time... Joe
May 22, 2012: I'm thrilled to welcome the talented Oleg Korolev onboard! His incredible illustrations can be found here and on his Facebook page. Definitely check those out!
As to the continued fiasco surrounding the Black Sabbath reunion, and the defacing of the official site to remove Bill Ward's face, as if he was never part of the band's history, so much has been said by so many that all I can add is that the whole thing is a shame, particularly the hurt feelings and deterioration of the friendship between these men at this stage in their lives. A lot of vitriol has been spent online between fans angrily pointing fingers at both sides, and, indeed, it does seem like the four of them should've just gotten in a room together and said "25% across the board. Go tell your representative. I'll tell mine." This situation is oddly reminiscent of what the members of Black Sabbath went through in the past, and who knows, perhaps it hearkens back to the betrayal of trust that occurred at the hands of their former managers, Patrick Meehan Sr. and Jr. back in mid-70s. One thing that every fan can agree on is that money should not prevent this reunion (by which I mean all four of them), nor should anyone should be treated as less than 1/4 of this band. Any statement to the effect of this one "can't cut it anymore" fails to recognize that every single one of these guys has worked hard to maintain and improve his skills. But they are all in their sixties. To expect them to play like they did in their twenties is not realistic. By the same token, they all sound fantastic. I've seen them all live in recent years, and their performance was tighter and more powerful by far than bands half their age. As to the failure of these men to get it together, time will tell if they can repair the damage done and work things out for themselves as artists, friends and as a working band. There remains hope.
May 15, 2012: As you've no doubt heard, Bill Ward will not be playing the upcoming three shows this year (Download, Lallapalooza or Birmingham). In his letter, he goes into further detail as to the conditions under which he was told he could play. While I won't go into editorializing here, I do have to say that it's great to see in this day and age a man of such integrity. Bill is truly the heart of Black Sabbath, as he proves time and again. I continue to hope that Bill will be presented with a signable contract so that he's on the upcoming album and world tour where he belongs. I've said it before, unless it's Iommi, Butler, Osbourne and Ward, it's not Black Sabbath. If you haven't yet read it, definitely check out Bill's letter here.
May 7, 2012: Today is Bill Ward's 64th b'day, so head over to Bill Ward's official site and wish him well! There's yet been no news as to whether or not he's playing at the Birmingham show on the 19th, much to the chagrin of many of us, but there remains hope we'll get a positive announcement soon.
February 20, 2012: Black Sabbath's 15 date European tour has been, with the exception of the Download Festival on June 10th, downgraded to "Ozzy and Friends," which will include Geezer Butler, Zakk Wylde, Slash and others. This comes in the wake of news that Iommi is undergoing chemo treatments, which, if you know anything about, seriously wrecks the body. Hopefully, this treatment plan will do what it's supposed to. Keep up the prayers and positive thoughts for Tony. In the meantime, Bill Ward posted that he's waiting to hear back from the management to see if the contract he proposed will be accepted. Let's hope it is. Lot of uncertainty for the future of Black Sabbath, but, as always, hope remains.
February 11, 2012: If you haven't seen it yet, there's a Facebook page tribute to Bill Ward: "1,000,000 fans say yes to Bill Ward." What I like about this page is that it hasn't sank to the lowest common denominator and the usual hate speech that seems to so quickly spring up amongst fans these days, e.g., Sharon Osbourne hate (incidentally, she has not fired Bill, as rumors suggested). Check it out, like it. It's past 36,000 and counting.
Additionally, I finally have a Facebook page, which you can check out here.
February 6, 2012: Please welcome the amazing David Ho, who I'm excited to have with us! His fantastic work can be found here!
February 5, 2012: Just wanted to welcome the incredible LS (LostSoulsArt) from Deviantart I'm thriled to be have onboard! Check out her great artwork here!
February 4, 2012: Bill posted a note of thanks to the "thousands" of fans that have sent him notes of support and love, saying he's been "moved and overwhelmed." And perhaps a bright light lies ahead: "Your support from across the world has given me further strength and hope for a positive resolve."
February 3, 2012: Sad news these past two days as Bill Ward announced on his site that he could not in good conscience sign a contract that he described as "unsignable."
"The place I’m in feels lousy and lonely because as much as I want to play and participate, I also have to stand for something and not sign on. If I sign as-is, I stand to lose my rights, dignity and respectability as a rock musician. I believe in freedom and freedom of speech. I grew up in a hard rock/metal band. We stood for something then, and we played from the heart with honesty and sincerity. I am in the spirit of integrity, far from the corporate malady, I am real and honest, fair and compassionate.
If I’m replaced, I have to face you, the beloved Sabbath fans. I hope you will not hold me responsible for the failure of an original Black Sabbath lineup as promoted. Without fault finding, I want to assure everyone that my loyalty to Sabbath is intact." (Please read the full statement at his site)
In response, Tony, Geezer and Ozzy wrote today, "We were saddened to hear yesterday via Facebook that Bill declined publicly to participate in our current Black Sabbath plans…we have no choice but to continue recording without him although our door is always open… We are still in the UK with Tony. Writing and recording the new album and on a roll… See you at Download!!!"
Judging by the comments I'm seeing on various sites, newsgroups and blogs, the majority of fans are upset, with many expressing the thought that they won't support a Black Sabbath without Bill, and that he deserves equal respect and compensation as a founding member of the band. Let's hope and pray that a peaceable reconciliation is to be found. “There’s one thing about Black Sabbath which should not be understated: If Black Sabbath is missing any one of its members it’s no longer Black Sabbath.” ~Henry Rollins
January 31, 2012: I just wanted to pay tribute to (Voytek) Wojciech Nowakowski, who passed away a year ago tomorrow. A wonderful artist and human being, Voytek was one of the earliest illustrators who agreed to contribute paintings to this project, and I'm indebted to his kindness and talent. While his website is no longer extant, you can still find his works scattered across the net. See you in the next world, my friend!
January 30, 2012: Welcome aboard our newest artist, Yaroslav Gerzhedovich, an amazing illustrator/photographer, whose arresting, haunting images you should check out on Flickr here!
January 23, 2012: Good news for Iommi and Black Sabbath who recently composed two additional songs for their upcoming album, making progress despite his diagnosis, and encouraged by all the fan support he's received.
On the book front, I've updated "Wicked World" on this site with its final draft. Check it out here. In addition, I've added another entry. This time, "Planet Caravan"! Enjoy!
January 12, 2012: Tony's illness
In regards to the recent new of Tony Iommi's diagnosis of lymphoma, Ozzy, Geezer, and Bill have requested "everyone to send positive vibes to the guitarist at this time." This can be in the form of prayers, good energy and/or upbeat messages (such as to his website: http://www.iommi.com/). Tony himself "remains upbeat and determined to make a full and successful recovery."
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