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Ah, the crazy 70s! This decade and the one preceding it gave the world of Rock n’ Roll, a bed partner. I am talking about the thing which pretty much became synonymous with rock in this period. No! Not long hair, not sex (that’s for the 80s) but an activity known as drug use. The Beatles did it, Morrison did it and Black Sabbath went as far to write a love song for it. Sweet Leaf is one of those classics whose lyrical content overshadows the actual music. There had been songs about drug effects earlier but never before was such a thing written. A song describing a person’s infatuation with the sweet leaf, marijuana, was really something new.
The strength of this song like pretty much all 70s Sabbath songs is Iommi’s guitarwork. The main riff is a perfect example of a Sabbath riff – majestic yet simple. Both Ward and Geezer are in top form but the person who truly amazed me with his performance on this track is Ozzy. Evidently, the sweet leaf he is praising so lovingly had not affected his vocals, at least not on this album. His voice is full of emotion and I can safely say that no other vocalist can perform this particular song better than Ozzy had. He sounds like an addict himself, right on the verge of madness. It’s sad to see how he has become a self parody now.
But for all this brilliance this song has a flaw and a major one at that; the song isn’t high on the replayability factor. It is fun but it loses that novelty fast enough. You’ll love it to bits the first time you hear it but after 7-8 plays you may stop bothering with it, although for a few days only. It’s a shame actually because if this review would have been written a few days after I had heard it for the first time, the rating would have been considerably higher.
The lyrics of this song are a glaring instance of the band’s infatuation with drugs. It is actually very sad because it was the excessive drug abuse that almost killed Sabbath by the end of 70s. It is a known fact that it was his drug abuse problem that eventually got Ozzy kicked out of Black Sabbath. If that wasn’t enough, this problem is sometimes attributed to killing Ozzy’s vocal abilities as well. I strongly believe that though this track is great, you’ll be better off ignoring the lyrical message.
The B-side to this single is another Sabbath classic; Lord of this World. The track is not so much of a fan favorite but I personally think that this is one of the best off ‘Master of Reality’ and would have been good enough for a single release itself. All four members of the band shine on this track as well. I may be wrong, but the lyrics on this one seem to be in praise of god. It is surprising that this track isn’t mentioned as often among Sabbath fans because unlike the previous track this song stays fresh even after a lot of plays. All in all, the two good songs on this single are an important part of metal’s history and everyone should be well-acquainted with them.