Monday, March 03, 2008

Black Widow Live

Available from Mystic Records (cat number 82356644792)

Here is the show that caused so much controversy in the 1960s press and with audiences, got this cult group banned by the BBC and from touring in the USA.

For many years now, the Album Sacrifice and especially the single 'Come to the Sabbath' has been the unofficial anthem of the pagan movement.

Almost forty years ago, I remember buying my first ever album (Black Sabbath/Paranoid) then being told by friends that what I really wanted to hear was Black Widow - far more edgy. Trouble was no one could get a copy, and everyone confused them with Black Sabbath - the rest is history for what is called the most unfortunate of bands.

The release of their well crafted album, whose underlying concept and accompanying stageshow benefited from the input of the infamous Maxine and Alex Sanders (the whole story is told in Maxine's new autobiography Fire Child - see above) . Trouble was it also coincided with the Sharon Tate/La Bianca murders. So all in all the album sunk without a trace and Black Widow eventually split.

But steadily over the years, their albums, especially Sacrifice, continued a twilight existence. But no one really knew what they were like live and what was that infamous stage show?

Clive Jones, the talented saxophonist and flutist remembered that one of their singles was filmed for the German equivalent of Top of the Pops. For many years he worked to track down the original producer, and was eventually promised a remastered copy of the film. When it eventually arrived, he was stunned to discover that the DVD included the entire stage show, which had been done as a warm up in the afternoon before the broadcast. Clive has no memory of all this, perhaps it's another example of the old saying "if you can remember the 1960s, you weren't there".

This DVD and accompanying CD is a fine piece of Rock and indeed occult history. And what a wonderful undiscovered classic is on offer here. Filmed in black and white you get the full ritual opening, then the invocation of the Ashtoreth, whose look is clearly modelled on the original concept created by Maxine Sanders as documented in her autobiography. The story moves to the 'demoness' as she attempts to seduce and possess the magician, then the battle and final 'licence to depart'.

The Black Widow vocalist, musicians and dancer all look great. The whole performance is very dramatic, real and physical with the incense burning and the building of power tangible. Furthermore, it is a very aesthetically pleasing stage show.

It's a really great Rock film, it's a really great Pagan film, with the added bonus of live versions of all the tracks, all of which are longer and musically richer than the studio album.

Black Widow Live Stage Show DVD plus live bonus CD - circa 15.99 UK Pounds (12.99 if you order before end of January) - got to do it really. [Mogg]

PS: Very well worth checking out is the Black Widow official website also the Mystic Records UK website and 'Pasi' and 'Black Widow' pages on myspace.