Black Sabbath began work on their sixth album in February 1975, again in England at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London. They had a decisive vision to differ the sound from previous album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Guitarist Tony Iommi, who produced the album, said that "We could've continued and gone on and on, getting more technical, using orchestras and everything else which we didn't particularly want to. We took a look at ourselves, and we wanted to do a rock album - Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath wasn't a rock album, really.
Over the years, singer Ozzy Osbourne has often complained in interviews that this album marked the beginning of what he described as Tony Iommi's studio production obsession. Sabotage took considerably longer to record and produce than each of their preceding albums, making it the most costly Black Sabbath album to that point. In comparison, the band's first album, Black Sabbath (1970), took only twelve hours to record at a cost of a few hundred pounds.
The album is a mix of heavy, powerful songs such as "Hole in the Sky" and "Symptom of the Universe", and softer experimental songs such as "Supertzar" and "Am I Going Insane (Radio)", which are similar to their previous album. The title of the latter caused some confusion due to the "(Radio)" part, which lead people to believe the song was a radio cut or radio version. However this is the only version of the song. It should be noted that the term 'radio-rental' is Cockney rhyming slang for 'mental'. The song itself is very different from the typical Ozzy Osbourne-era Black Sabbath song. It features no heavy guitar riff; instead, a keyboard riff is prominent. The song concludes with an "insane laugh" which carries into "The Writ".
The album cover is a photograph of the band members standing in front of a large bronze mirror. Their "reflections" face the wrong way, and are simply copies of each band member's real image. This is the first album to feature all of the band members on the cover.
Stoner rock band Camarosmith's debut album cover pays homage to Sabotage, reproducing it with the members of the band instead of Black Sabbath.
Sabotage cracked the top 20 in both the United Kingdom and United States, but was the band's first release not to achieve platinum status in the US. Songs such as "Hole in the Sky", and "Symptom of the Universe" became fan favourites, with the latter's chugging riff even cited as an early example of thrash metal. Black Sabbath toured in support of Sabotage with openers Kiss, but were forced to cut the tour short in November 1975, following a motorcycle accident in which Ozzy ruptured a muscle in his back.
On some of the first vinyl/cassette releases (and all of the remastered versions of the album) there is a short, 23 second hidden track titled "Blow on a Jug" at the end of "The Writ". Recorded at very low volume, it features Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward goofing around in the studio.
|United Kingdom||July 28, 1975||NEMS|
|United States||???||Warner Bros. Records|
|Canada||???||Warner Bros. Records|
|United Kingdom||1986||Castle Communications||this includes a bonus track: a live version of "Sweet Leaf", taken from the Live at Last album.|
|United Kingdom||2004||Sanctuary Records|