I have read a number of reviews of this album and none of them seem positive at all! But I say damn the critics. This album is awesome. It is not as good as the six preceding it (though they were not all perfect), but it has left a mark on me this month. Released in 1976, this followed the release of the unequalled Sabotage.

All good things come to an end. In Black Sabbath’s case it was the white-hot streak of six irrefutably brilliant albums they released between 1970’s bruising self-titled debut and 1975’s wide-eyed and spangled Sabotage, brought to a screeching halt by Technical Ecstasy. Louder

Standouts are clearly Rock & Rock Doctor, All Moving Parts, and Gypsy. Gypsy is the masterwork of the album really. This was the first track I heard on the album. It has great lyrics. Ozzy is in fine voice and howling guitar is very well placed and hints at Sabbath at their best. The guitar and piano in the second half is superb. To follow this with All Moving Parts was a great idea. The riff is off the chart. Then the funky beat comes in. The reverb on Ozzy’s voice is very exciting indeed. The track really gets into its groove after the 3 minute mark, with wonderful funk guitar.

With its blindingly bright, futuristic artwork, created by top ’70s album cover design shop, Hipgnosis (but famously dismissed by Ozzy Osbourne as “two robots screwing” in author Mick Wall’s Sabbath biography Symptom of the Universe), Technical Ecstasy emerged out of a particularly convoluted period in the band’s history – one mired in serious business and personal issues, and affected by outside forces beyond their control.

Rock N Roll Doctor follows these two magnificent tracks. It is a bit juvenile by comparison. The piano is strained but the drumming sustains it through. It is said of this album that Tony Iommi was often the creative brain behind the operation but that he has become tired of being the de facto creative force. This was indeed the beginning of the end of the Sabbath we knew.

She’s Gone is a slower number. A lot of reviews I have read have bemoaned Ozzy’s voice as being disappointing and grating in this track. I do not think it is so awful. The sentimental violins and content from a singer known better for subject matter a little more hard core are reminiscent of The Walker Brothers’ 1966 opus ‘Portrait’.

The album closes on Dirty Women, a much criticised Sabbath track. This track is essentially about a man courting ladies of the night. The riff is repetitive and the subject matter is repulsive. I can see why it is maligned as much as it is. It is somehat salvaged by a hint of pure (ho ho) Sabbath with the final guitar flurry. The Rundgren-esque introduction to the bridge is not lost on me. The last part of the track closes the album in more Sabbath style. The end is sumptuous and allows one to dance about the room and shake one’ head back as well as forth.

Overall, a corker, with some real stinkers contained within. A worthy album of the month, however, as it means a lot to my father and I. This was the first Sabbath album which father had heard all the way through, if you can believe it.