It was 40 years ago this week that Black Sabbath’s second album was released by Vertigo Records. In just three weeks the LP became the first of the 11 Vertigo releases to make it to the top of the UK album charts. Reviews and celebrations of the album can be found on many websites so rather than attempting to describe the bullet proof perfection of this record once more we’ve linked to a few of our favourite pieces of writing on it here, here and here.
Home of Metal’s original contribution to this anniversary is to focus on the Vertigo label’s label itself. At our 2007 Symposium Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner described his fascination with the label graphic as it rotated on his turntable. For him the trembling label surrounded by a “starless night of vinyl” (lovely phrase) complemented the Black Sabbath sound. In describing his fascination with the label he has said: “I could watch that thing spinning for hours on end, rising and falling into its abyss. Not really knowing what it was or how it worked but knowing that it did something strange that I had only experienced before by rubbing my eyes very hard or during some childhood fever intensified by the crazy silver wallpaper in the front room.”
Linda Nicol who designed the swirl told Home of Metal how the graphic came about: “I had been working for Philips Records since 1966 as an in house designer as Linda Glover (my maiden name) and when in 1969 they decided to create a new label for the “heavier” new progressive rock, the name Vertigo (the first choice of Olaf Wyper, the chief advertising man at Philips) was born. I was given the specification to work on it and had to come up with a strong image which said “Vertigo”! As I had long been interested in Kinetic Art in the 60’s I pursued my designs along those lines playing about with my compasses and came up with the “Swirl” design. It did the job beautifully as an image and even more so when it was put on the turntable and made the “Dizzy” sensation I was aiming at.”
There’s more on the Vertigo label design at the (rather wonderful) vertigoswirl website where can also immerse yourself in the minutiae of the first four Black Sabbath LPs and find out the little features you need to be looking for that, if present might mean your copy of Paranoid is “worth” a cool £500.
Since this piece was written a mint copy of Paranoid sold on ebay for £620. Popspike.com hasn’t listed the sale yet. In the last minute of the auction two bids saw the selling price jump from £465 to £510 before the closing price was reached.