Tune du Jour: “Paranoid” – Black Sabbath
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Ruder Than You vs. Soft Cell
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)
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Paranoid was released in 1970 on Black Sabbath’s second album, which was also titled Paranoid. The song’s popularity in the US started slowly – reaching only as high as number 61 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 – but built over time as album rock radio stations played it incessantly. On the other hand, the U.K. fell in love with it immediately.  Paranoid reached number four on the U.K. Singles Chart in 1970 and, amazingly, appeared on that same chart again in 1980, breaking into the Top 20. In fact, unlike the U.S., Paranoid was an immediate success throughout Europe and South Africa. 

Broccoli For Miles And Miles And Miles And Miles And Miles ... Oh Yeah!

Broccoli For Miles
And Miles And Miles
And Miles And Miles …
Oh Yeah!

Among Paranoid’s awards:

1976, NME (United Kingdom) ranked it number 41 on their All Time Top 100 Singles list.

1989, Spin (United States) ranked it number 81 on their 100 Greatest Singles of All Time list.

1989, Radio Veronica (Netherlands) ranked it number 16 on their Super All-Time List.

1994, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (United States) named it to their The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.

1998, Guitarist (United Kingdom) ranked it number 84 on their Top 100 Guitar Solos of All-Time list.

2004, Rolling Stone (United States) ranked it number 250 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

2004, Q (United Kingdom) named it to their 1010 Songs You Must Own! list.

2006, Q ranked it number 100 on their 100 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

2006, VH1 (United States) ranked it number 34 on their 40 Greatest Metal Songs list.

2008, VH1 ranked it number 4 on their 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs list.

Paranoid is generally thought of as Black Sabbath’s crowning achievement. Yet, it almost did not come to be. According to Black Sabbath’s bass player, Geezer Butler:

“A lot of the Paranoid album was written around the time of our first album,Black Sabbath. We recorded the whole thing in about 2 or 3 days, live in the studio. The song Paranoid was written as an afterthought. We basically needed a 3 minute filler for the album, and Tony came up with the riff. I quickly did the lyrics, and Ozzy was reading them as he was singing.”

And that my friends is how you compose a heavy metal anthem! Can you imagine a world without Paranoid?

The Original

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Black Sabbath:

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THE CLASH of Cover Tunes

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Ruder Than You vs. Soft Cell
Ruder Than You:

Ruder Than You holds the distinction of being CMI’s Reigning Exultant Virtuosic Performer of “Paranoid”. Additionally, Ruder Than You is also a recipient of CMI’s universally coveted title of Uni-Victor Melodious Maximus in Adversarial Replication. Among the title’s myriad of rewards and benefits, perhaps most desirous is that it bestows upon the recipient the eminently yearned for privilege of having one’s name appear in print media in bold orange!

Ruder Than You’s triumph in CMI’s THE CLASH of Cover Tunes competition is detailed below:

11/6/2013 – “Paranoid” (Black Sabbath) – Ruder Than You (71%) expunge The Dickies (29%)

Soft Cell:

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Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

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Votes can be cast up to three months from the day and time of the original post.

Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. Cuspid says:

    Mark Almond has a tremendous capacity to irritate. This cover is a perfect example. This one is Ruder Than You all the way as far as I’m concerned..

  2. Kerry Black says:

    You mentioned “Paranoid” was re-released a decade later and charted once again. During my time in the U.K. there were a number of seemingly random oldies that were re-released and slotted into radio playlists along with new stuff. They would appear in the charts along with everything else. While I was there, Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petite” reached number one and stayed there for four weeks, nearly thirty years after its initial release. Steve Miller’s “The Joker” was frequently on the radio there in the late eighties, and I just discovered that it reached number one in 1990, and stayed there two weeks.

    • RDubbs says:

      Actually, the article I read did not specifically say that Paranoid was re-released, although, since as you pointed out it is a regular pattern in England then that probably was the case. However, it does not always take a re-release to trigger enthusiasm for an older song. I can remember clearly the first time I heard The Proclaimers. It was 1987 and Pete, Mark and me were driving about Atlanta listening to the radio when The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues came on. I immediately loved it. The incredible harmonizing and gospel-feel replete with Scottish brogue. Just fantastic. I immediately purchased their album, This Is The Story. It was very good but I was much more impressed with their second release, Sunshine on Leith, which came out the following year. I absolutely loved that album, especially the catchy, witty, tune, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). Later that year I saw them play a medium-size club and was blown away. It is one thing to hear perfect vocals on a studio album, with all the “effects” at the engineer’s disposal. But these guys were the real deal. Their voices with energetic, loud and perfect. They put on a fantastic show. I imagine it was somewhat like seeing James Brown throw it down. Blissful energy-charged entertainment while simultaneously emitting the feeling there is “something more” to what you are witnessing.

      The fact that virtually no one in the States were paying them any attention did not exactly surprise me. I mean this was a country that had recently elected (and then reelected!) Ronald Reagon, so “general awareness” was not high on the list of the average American’s attributes. Or, to put it another way, the average American’s taste in music was dismal.

      Years later I was confused as to why 500 Miles had all of a sudden become the rage. One day obscure and the next wildly popular. I later realized that it appeared on the soundtrack of the 1993 hit movie, Benny & Joon, which apparently gave the go-ahead to the U.S. populace to now love it. So without a re-release per se 500 Miles became a big hit five years after its initial release.

  3. RDubbs says:

    Ruder’s version is emphatically superior. In fact, it is one of my all-time favorite covers. For a band to take a song I dislike and turn it into a great musical experience, well that is one of the reasons I cherish cover songs.

    But I do give credit to Soft Cell in that their version seemingly mocks the original, which if in fact was their intent, then I heartily applaud their effort.

  4. Arnie Plotnick says:

    I actually don’t mind Soft Cell’s version, however, Ruder Than You’s version is terrific and it wins, hands down. Mark Peanut should stick to his milieu, i.e. songs like Sex Dwarf, to avoid ennui.

  5. RDubbs says:

    An incredibly fascinating factoid: Of the three versions, Ruder Than You’s is the only one to use the word “Paranoid” in it. Told ya it would be compelling. I just hope everyone was sitting for that one.

  6. Pete Black says:

    Not crazy about either. I thought Soft Cell’s was more interesting. Especially with the photos often adding that BDSM bisexual imagery. The vibe with lyrics reminded me of Eraserhead. Lot of Paranoia there.

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