Monday, 6 July 2009


Ever wanted to try and recreate the famous Sabbath fonts? Here's the names for as many as could be identified!

Now, here's the main problem...back in the good old '70s, digital fonts didn't exist! So the vast majority of logos and 'graphic' fonts were either hand-drawn by very talented artists or else they plundered the Letraset rub down sheets!

BLACK SABBATH - first album
The one that everyone wants to get hold for it...! "Manuscript Capitals" by Letraset. (Now, what's VERY interesting about this is that I happen to have a very old Letraset catalogue
and the font says © 1972....and we all know the album came out in 1970...) And it doesn't exist in digital form (not commercially
anyway), unless some clever person has done it themselves!


Definitely hand drawn originally, but now a very close version exists called "Dark Black". Free download -

Is a distorted version of Futura Extra Bold - and then emboldened even further.

I've done a VERY quick example! It's by no means finished, but shows it can be done, needs more distortion etc...

I'm struggling with this one! Most internet sources claim 'Baltar' looks a lot like it, but I disagree. It's nowhere near close enough. More digging to be done. It is most likely a heavily emboldened version of an existing font - but I've scoured the Letraset book
and it ain't in there!!!

Baltar font - the only character that is correct is the lower case 'h'...!

Still looking for the nearest example for the album title (hand drawn), there is a 'Spinal Tap' font but only the lower case 'a' is close.

The band name is lower case "Old English Text", a fairly common Letraset font in the day and easy to download now. Here's an example in 'Cloister Black', a free download version that's almost identical to how it appears on the bottom of the front cover...

Following the distinctive initial capital 'S' from the previous
album, this has combined with Futura Extra Bold Condensed for the rest of the name.
This also appears on We Sold Our Soul For Rock 'n Roll.

Obviously needs the hand-drawn 'S' to be complete...

Closest I can find is a slightly condensed and letter-spaced version of Futura Medium - only character I'm not happy with on this is the 'A'....but the rest is spot on

Subsequent albums to follow in part 2....

Friday, 22 May 2009


The first and only 'official' (i.e. band-sanctioned) release on WWA. Other albums on WWA were rereleases of earlier Vertigo LPs and cheap 'cash-in' compilations - Attention Black Sabbath Vol and 2.

1st press features the WWA005 matrix and letters on label etc. However, there is another version which also features the letters and matrix ACB00166....rumours persist of it being printed by another plant at the same time as the aforementioned WWA005 (to meet demand for sales...possible?). Another theory is that it is a record club release, hence the alternative code (this theory seems more likely to me).

Subsequently reissued on NEMS (yet again!)


First on Vertigo Swirl, then Vertigo Spaceship (reputedly the rarest of them all...only 100 copies made?). WWA released a few until the band moved again onto NEMS for yet another release of the same LP...

very 1st press label (above) without Made In England on label
next press (below) WITH Made In England!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


1st released on Vertigo Swirl (the only UK release to have an all-black label, all others were white), then on Vertigo Spaceship, see below for subsequent releases


Some interesting variations on Paranoid released on vinyl; very first press on Vertigo Swirl features an important credit to Jim Simpson, Big Bear Management Birmingham. This was very quickly removed just after the album was released due to the band splitting from the management team.

Jim Simpson Big Bear Management Credit removed immediately after initial release...

1st issue label design, you'll find this with the above sleeve credit and also without it...

2nd press label design, from 1971 onwards, often found with a laminated sleeve also. Very 1st pressings always have unlaminated gatefold sleeves... There are slight variations on this label where the P 1970 appears above the 33 1/3. Also the credit "Produced by Roger Bain for Tony Hall Enterprises" is on one line...

It was then released on Spaceship labels in 1973, again a short run as the band switched to WWA in late '73

4th issue on WWA from 1973 onwards:

NEMS version from 1976:

Monday, 11 May 2009


Lots of confusion (certainly on ebay anyway) about what is and what isn't a UK 1st pressing of Black Sabbath's phenomenal debut album. Why is this important...? Genuine UK 1st pressings are now going for over a £100 in mint condition, so it's worth knowing you are getting what you pay for.

Here are the 3 label variations on Vertigo Swirl:

Very 1st pressings have the words "A PHILIPS
RECORD PRODUCT" below the VERTIGO as this (left):

2nd pressings (from early 1970 - sometime in early/mid 1971) carried this label variation
(right) which now omits "A PHILIPS RECORD PRODUCT".

There are some other minor variations in typography which you can see when you compare them side by side (I will upload a better scan of label 2 when I get one!)

3rd pressing (from mid 1971 to 1973) carried the label variation below; fairly obvious change is the VERTIGO now above the spindle hole and a smaller 'Swirl' logo above this:

4th version (from sometime in 1973) moved to the very distinctive Vertigo 'Spaceship' design (designed by famed artist Roger Dean).

Now this could actually be one of the rarest editions of this LP, as Black Sabbath (disgruntled at their complete lack of money despite their spiralling success) quickly moved from the Vertigo label in 1973 to WWA to record their seminal 5th album, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"...

And during this time, "Black Sabbath" was re-released again, this time on WWA!

Again, albeit very briefly as they then moved labels yet again(!) to NEMS for the recording of "Sabotage", until, you've guessed it!, they sorted out all the various lawsuits and legal wranglings and ended up back on Vertigo for the recording of Technical Ecstasy. Lo and behold, their debut album was re-released yet again on NEMS this time! Better pic of NEMS label
version to follow;

Sunday, 10 May 2009


Originally released on Vertigo Swirl (allegedly on Friday 13th 1970...or is this urban myth?), as with the record label design itself, there are minor differences that help you spot the very first edition of this gatefold sleeve...

Band member names and production
credits are all in CAPITALS...
No publishing details or
songwriting credits

Printing error on copyright notice: states "Copyright subsists in all Stereo recordings." Should state "in all Vertigo recordings."

2nd version of the inner sleeve;

Band members and production credits are now all in lower case, Composer credits now added, Copyright notice corrected to "Vertigo Recordings"

Subsequent issue sleeves with WWA and then NEMS logos replacing the Vertigo logo: