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;


  1. Can you comment on differences in the sonic qualities of the different pressings. Any comparisons would be appreciated, especially regarding the different pressings of the self-titled debut. I know the earliest pressings are often the most desired from a collectibility standpoint. However, are there particular pressings that outshine the others sonically.

  2. I own most of these variations and cannot really discern any difference in audio quality. I recently acquired a mint example of the NEMS version from 1976 and sonically it's just as good as my very first Vertigo Swirl pressing...

  3. hi, i have a copy of this album i've never seen somewhere else, it's the white vertigo label, but it has the songs listed on their respective sides, there's no "big" vertigo logo on the A-Side, it's gatefold with the reversed cross end black background and other curiosity is that the cover and back cover is the same, do you know something about this edition?

  4. I have the back sabbath 1st press with philips credit the extraordinary thing about the label is BS printed on the left. Anyone seen this before?