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Going through "Changes": Tony Iommi reflects on Black Sabbath's classic 'Vol. 4' piano ballad

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Warner Records

Black Sabbath has released a newly remastered version of the band’s 1972 album, Vol. 4. In addition to continuing the metal pioneers’ dark, heavy style with songs such as “Snowblind,” Vol. 4 also included a total sonic left turn in the form of the openhearted piano ballad, “Changes.”

Speaking to ABC Audio, guitarist Tony Iommi recalls how he first wrote the music “Changes” on a piano while Sabbath was writing Vol. 4 in Los Angeles.

“Within Sabbath, we’ve always put an instrumental of some sort on [albums], some kind of acoustic thing or whatever,” Iommi explains. “But [‘Changes’] was really different for us.”

“That was the first time I played piano,” he adds. “And it was the first thing I came up with on the piano.”

Iommi remembers playing “Changes” as vocalist started Ozzy Osbourne singing over the melody. They liked how it sounded, and, as Iommi says, they weren’t concerned about how people might react to the softer direction.

“The first thing that it had to please was us,” Iommi says. “We’d always done that with Sabbath music.”

“It wasn’t, ‘Is anybody gonna like it?'” he continues. “We have to…start off with us first, because we’re presenting ourselves. So if we like it, then we just hope that everybody else liked it.”

Iommi marvels at the continued legacy of “Changes,” in part thanks to a cover by the late soul singer Charles Bradley. That version, which Iommi praises as “really good,” is used as the theme for the animated Netflix series Big Mouth.

“It took [on] its own life, really,” Iommi laughs. 

Along with the Vol. 4 reissue, Black Sabbath is also releasing deluxe versions of the Ronnie James Dio-era albums Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, due out March 5.

By Josh Johnson
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