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50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath (1 Viewer)

zamboni

Footballguy
http://www.guitarworld.com/50-heaviest-songs-black-sabbath-50-41 (to avoid annoyance of scrolling through, text is below)

YouTube link for most songs (missing ones can be found via search)

Always debatable about what "heavy" or "hard rock" is, but I think it's a decent list - some common, some obscure.

50 - The Troggs, "Wild Thing" (1966)
This bit of caveman rock, written by Chip Taylor (actor Jon Voight’s brother), is the only song on this list to feature an ocarina solo.

49 - The Yardbirds, “Happenings 10 Years Time Ago” (1966)
Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page teamed up on this elaborate, psychodramatic masterpiece to contribute slashing rhythm parts, zig-zagging lead lines and a witty imitation of a police car’s siren.

48 - The Who, "My Generation" (1965)
Studio version not heavy enough for you? There’s always the explosive -- literally -- “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” version from 1967. Pete Townshend’s ears are still smarting from it.

47 - Coven, "Pact With Lucifer" (1969)
Jinx Dawson was Doro before there was a Doro. Coven makes the list for their occult themes and evil-sounding song titles like “Pact With Lucifer,” “Choke, Thirst, Die” and “Dignitaries of Hell,” but ultimately the music just wasn’t that heavy.

46 - The Guess Who, “American Woman” (1970)
After luring in listeners with a sweet acoustic blues intro, Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman & Co. hit the stompboxes and showed the world what Led Zeppelin would’ve sounded like if they were Canadian. This one came out in January 1970 -- mere weeks before Black Sabbath would redefine heavy.

45 - Pink Floyd, "Interstellar Overdrive" (1967)
The song that launched a thousand space-rock bands.

44 - The Count Five, "Psychotic Reaction" (1966)
The Count Five’s only hit single was this blatantly Yardbirds-inspired gem from 1966. The band, who were all between the ages of 17 and 19, split up a year later to pursue college degrees. Remember, kids, there’s nothing heavier than an education!

43 - The Wailers, “Out of Our Tree” (1966)
A fun, fuzzed-out offering from the Tacoma-based Wailers, one of the first American garage rock bands.

42 - Sam Gopal, "Season of the Witch" (1969)
Sam Gopal was the first percussionist to bring tabla drums back from India and incorporate them into rock music. However, his 1969 album, Escalator, was a landmark in rock music for another reason: It featured, on vocals and guitar, a young Ian Kilmister. You may know him better as “Lemmy.”

41 - Cream, "Sunshine of Your Love" (1967)
This song was written by Cream bassist Jack Bruce in a burst of inspiration after watching a Jimi Hendrix concert. Hendrix would cover the song a year later, adding some burning guitar licks in place of the lyrics.

40 - The Kinks, "You Really Got Me" (1964)
Some musicos consider this song the father -- or at least the spastic uncle -- of heavy metal. It doesn’t hurt its cred that it was covered by Van Halen a few decades back and was recently recorded by Ray Davies with Metallica for Davies’ See My Friends album.

39 - Dragonfly, “Blue Monday” (1968)
Dragonfly represented Croatia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 in Helsinki, Finland, playing this very track almost 40 years after it was first recorded.

38 - Captain Beefheart, “Diddy Wah Diddy” (1966)
The Good Captain first tasted success when he joined the Magic Band in 1965 and recorded this blazing cover of Bo Diddley's "Diddy Wah Diddy."

37 - Bunker Hill, “The Girl Can’t Dance” (1963)
It’s always guitar players that are given credit with first making use of distortion, but it’s clear that Bunker Hill was pushing the levels to the max on this roaring cut from the early ’60s, backed by none other than Link Wray & The Raymen.

36 - Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Fortunate Son” (1969)
On its musical merits alone, this song may not have made the list at all, but was there anything heavier than John Fogerty’s voice in the late ’60s?

35 - Humble Pie, "Desperation" (1969)
A review for Humble Pie’s 1969 effort As Safe as Yesterday Is features one of the first recorded uses of the term “heavy metal” to describe a piece of music.

34 - The Beatles, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (1969)
John Lennon’s rarely heard lead guitar shines in this bluesy rocker from Abbey Road; the “heavy” part kicks in at the 4:37 mark, then builds and builds into something a twisted DJ would play as the pillars of the earth are tumbling down around him. Also, this song may have inadvertently started doom metal.

33 - Arzachel, "Leg" (1969)
Uriel were a band formed in 1968 who then changed their name to Egg, then broke up, re-united and released their only album under the name Arzachel in 1969. Why their Wikipedia entry insists on calling them Uriel, we may never know.

32 - Ten Years After, "Bad Scene" (1969)
After playing a heavy blend of blues-rock in the ’60s, Ten Years After gained a significant amount of success in the early ’70s, thanks to a more radio-friendly sound. We can find no record of whether or not they cut their hair and started wearing eye-liner.

31 - Led Zeppelin, "Whole Lotta Love" (1969)
What more can be said about track one, side one, of Led Zeppelin II? Maybe one more thing: Download the Small Faces’ “You Need Loving” from the Small Faces album (the Decca version) and head to the 3:35 mark. Sound familiar? The Small Faces version came first (of course).

30 - Jimi Hendrix, "Purple Haze" (1967)
Hendrix’s calling card, “Purple Haze” brought a level of dissonance to popular music that had previously been touched on only by the free-jazz crowd. Many will credit Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” as being the first use of the tritone (otherwise known as diabolus in musica), but Hendrix was tapping the dark side of music a whole three years earlier.

29 - Iron Butterfly, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (1968)
Another entry often cited as being the first heavy metal song, the 17-minute-long title track from Iron Butterfly’s second studio album does have some impressive credentials, having been covered by Slayer.

28 - Vanilla Fudge, "You Keep Me Hangin’ On" (1967)
A band as heavy as their name is delicious, Vanilla Fudge were one of the few American bands that were integral in bridging the gap between fuzz and metal.

27 - Black Widow, "Come to the Sabbat!" (1969)
Despite their hard-sounding name and largely occult imagery, Black Widow were apologetically a bunch of hippies. Still, “Come to the Sabbat!” is a dark tune that features tribal drums and pagan chanting -- and it even name-checks Old Nick himself.

26 - The Sonics, “The Witch” (1965)
Not only were the Sonics one of the forerunners of garage rock, they were also instrumental in establishing a music scene in Seattle; one that would rise to national prominence a few decades later. Fun fact: The B-side to this single was a cover of Little Richard’s “Keep-A-Knockin.”

25 - Andromeda, "Keep Out ’Cos I’m Dying" (1969)
Andromeda were another band who served to bridge the gap between psychedelic rock and what was to become heavy metal. When the song changes gears around the 2:17 mark, you can hear the stirrings of Black Sabbath waiting in the wings.

24 - Velvet Haze, "Last Day on Earth" (1967)
Virginia’s Velvet Haze were a nice mix of British-imported psychedelia and good ol’ American garage rock. “Last Day on Earth” makes the list for its distorted guitars, apocalyptic themes and killer drum break.

23 - The Kinks, "All Day and All of the Night" (1964)
All things considered -- the year of the recording, the harsh sound of its perfect power-chord riff and Dave Davies’ maniacal guitar solo -- this must’ve sounded like martian music to the bubble-gum-blowin’ kids of the day.

22 - The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, "Fire" (1968)
“I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you fire!” So begins Arthur Brown’s “Fire,” a track so sinister that we’re willing to forgive its psychedelic vibe to place it at number 22 on the list. Also, the song’s video has been giving people nightmares since 1968. Fun fact: This song was produced by Pete Townshend.

21 - Steppenwolf, "Born to be Wild" (1967)
When songwriter Mars Bonfire strung together the words “heavy” and “metal” in the lyrics to this song, he had no idea what he’d started.

20 - Led Zeppelin, "Communication Breakdown" (1969)
One of the first and finest examples of a chugging riff incorporating the low E string, and in many ways the blueprint for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and, later, thrash. While nothing to write home about, Iron Maiden’s cover of this song is worth checking out.

19 - Blue Cheer, "Summertime Blues" (1968)
This track is often cited as the first heavy metal song, but while this blistering cover of Eddie Cochran’s 1958 classic certainly does turn the volume up to 11 (especially for 1968), we don’t think it’s the first or heaviest song of the era.

18 - Stone Garden, "Oceans Inside Me" (1969)
Proof that the heavy can come from anywhere, Stone Garden came to us all the way from the little town of Lewsiton, Idaho. The band issued its sole 45 of the '60s, "Oceans Inside Me/Stop My Thinking," in 1969. The next year, three of the band members graduated from high school.

17 - Cream, "Tales of Brave Ulysses" (1967)
Maybe the live versions of this Disraeli Gears classic are a notch or two heavier than the studio version -- but consider the mythical subject matter and the way Eric Clapton’s wah-wah pedal sends the listener sailng off to distant shaky, swirling places.

16 - King Crimson, "21st Century Schizoid Man" (1969)
There should be no debating King Crimson’s place in the prog-rock pantheon. Not just heroes among Dream Theater and their ilk, the title track off of 1969’s In the Court of the Crimson King has also been covered by the likes of Entombed, Forbidden and Voivod.

15 - Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, “I Put a Spell on You" (1956)
We were tempted to call Arthur Brown the first shock-rocker before we remembered that Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was dressing up like a voodoo medicine man and frightening children more than a decade before. Rumor has it that during the recording of this song, originally meant to be a ballad, Hawkins blacked out completely and doesn’t remember his screaming, guttural performance in the least. Metal!

14 - Deep Purple, "Wring That Neck" (1968)
This song was named after a phrase the band used when playing live, which described the musicians (namely the guitarist and bassist) trying to push their playing to the absolute limits in order to “wring” all of the heaviness from their instruments.

13 - Valhalla, “Hard Times” (1969)
First band to name themselves after the warrior’s heaven from Norse mythology? Check. Artwork featuring burning viking ship? Check. Bleak lyrics? Check. Proto-viking-metal, anyone?

12 - The Stooges, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (1969)
The influence of many bands on this list is debatable, but there’s no question that without the Stooges there would be no punk rock, which means there would be no thrash metal. Stooges frontman Iggy Pop would reinvent himself countless times in the course of his career, but his most manic moments come on the initial offering from the Stooges, which features this three-chord monster of a song.

11 - The 31 Flavors, "Distortions of Darkness" (1969)
This band released two albums in 1969 -- one as the Firebirds and one as the 31 Flavors. While the Firebirds album was far more commercially successful, the 31 Flavors’ Hair was undoubtedly a much heavier affair, with the closing track, “Distortions of Darkness,” proving to be one of the heaviest instrumentals this side of “Rat Salad.”

10 - The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (1968)
Whether he was riding his E, bending his G or laying into his wah-wah pedal, the legendary southpaw conjured pure magic from his Strat in this Electric Ladyland classic. Kenny Wayne Shepherd once said of the track, “There are things Jimi did on the guitar that humans just can't do.” We couldn’t have said it better, Kenny.

09 - Cromagnon, "Caledonia" (1969)
Think Throbbing Gristle laid the groundwork for industrial in the late 1970s? Think again. This song features all of the trademark techniques that would later be integral to industrial metal: samples, screamed vocals, machine-like drums and … bagpipes? Fun fact: Much of this song was recorded in the bathroom of a hotel-turned-studio in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. (Note: skip ahead to around the 1:10 mark if you're thrown off by the weird, sampled intro)

08 - The Beatles, "Helter Skelter" (1968)
It’s safe to say Ringo Starr wasn’t the only Beatle with “blistahs” on his “fingahs” after jamming ceaselessly on this White Album standout, the heaviest tune in the band’s catalog. This song was meant to one-up the Who after Paul McCartney read an interview with Pete Townshend where he called “I Can See for Miles” the loudest and dirtiest song the Who had ever recorded.

07 - Jacula, “Triumphatus Sad” (1969)
For the most part, Jacula spent most of their time crafting dark, gothic, and somewhat cheesy prog rock that was probably very confusing to audiences who were listening to Genesis at the time. The band was founded by Antonio Bartoccetti, better known as the leader of cult band Antonius Rex, who surrounded himself with the latest technology and some very talented sound engineers to create an album that seemingly defies time. "Triumphatus Sad," from the band's 1969 album In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum, put the prog-cheesiness aside for a minute to deliver a jolt of Iommi-esque guitars and haunting organ sounds that wouldn't sound out of place in the '80s doom metal scene. Fun fact: Rumor has it that only 333 copies of the album were pressed and only sent to religious groups.

06 - Bitter Creek, "Plastic Thunder" (1967)
Think you hear the sound of thunder? Nope -- it’s only Bitter Creek’s 1967 “Plastic” version. But with its cavernous bass and Yardbirds-on-acid fuzz guitar, this song is almost as heavy as the real thing. Surprisingly little is known about Bitter Creek; the consensus is that they were from Georgia and that “Plastic Thunder” was the only 45 they ever issued.

05- Edgar Broughton Band, "Evil" (1969)
In this scene from a psycho-blues nightmare, Edgar Broughton found the perfect vehicle for his Howlin’ Wolf meets Captain Beefheart vocal style. In an odd turn of events, original guitarist Victor Unit left the band after this album, when they went from a more mellow blues to a heavy, psychedelic sound, calling them “sell-outs.”

04 - Pink Floyd, "The Nile Song" (1969)
David Gilmour’s blistering, bendy solos guide this Roger Waters-penned rocker menacingly downstream. Gilmour’s vocals never sounded so sinister as they do on this track, barking over a chugging, churning riff that may even slip into the proto-punk category at times. Forget Dark Side; we’d like to see this put to a laser light show!

03 - High Tide, "Death Warmed Up" (1969)
Whoever it was who said “Death is a dish best served cold” never heard this noisy little number by England’s High Tide. Grab a ringside seat as Tony Hill’s guitar battles it out with Simon House’s electric violin -- for nine minutes. High Tide took a great deal of influence from surf guitar, using washes of reverb almost as a type of distortion. Scott Ian would later cite surf guitarists -- **** Dale in particular -- as being a big influence on the alternate picking techniques of thrash players.

02 - MC5, "Kick Out the Jams" (1969)
“Kick out the jams, mother####ers!” So begins this ditty -- nearly three minutes of Detroit-fueled madness -- which delivered a spirited kick in the crotch to a world where the Bee Gees were starting a joke and the Foundations were building up butter cups. Among those who didn’t seem to “get it” was Rolling Stone reviewer Lester Bangs, who called the album “ridiculous, overbearing [and] pretentious.” That’s right: Before heavy metal had even begun, he had missed the entire point of it.

01 - Led Zeppelin, "Dazed and Confused" (1969)
Jimmy Page started performing this tune, originally composed by folk singer Jake Holmes, live with the Yardbirds in that band’s final days. But it didn’t become a dark, powerful masterpiece until John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Robert Plant turned up in a London studio in October 1968 to help Page cajole this sleeping giant into thunderous new territory. This song was also among Zeppelin’s most famous live numbers, featuring Page’s trademark violin bow solo. Fun fact: Some live versions clocked in at 45 minutes long.
 
Pretty damn good list. Surprising that no Stones songs are in there though...
Given the others on the list, I could see "Satisfaction", "19th Nervous Breakdown" or maybe "Street Fighting Man" getting in there, but maybe the writers didn't view them as "heavy" enough. I don't fault the Stones exclusion though - at least on this type of list.

 
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Holy #### that High Tide song is badass. Never even heard of those dudes before, definitely gonna have to check out some of their discography.

 
Can't wait to dig into some of these. Opened it up thinking "If Kick Out the Jams isn't in the top 5 I'm not bothering with the rest."

 
26 - The Sonics, “The Witch” (1965)

Not only were the Sonics one of the forerunners of garage rock, they were also instrumental in establishing a music scene in Seattle; one that would rise to national prominence a few decades later. Fun fact: The B-side to this single was a cover of Little Richard’s “Keep-A-Knockin.”
This was the first song I thought of. I don't think the Sonics are considered enough when people make lists of ground breaking contributions in music. Its a serious challenge to find anything before this song that would be considered the beginning of punk. If you're not familiar take a moment to listen.

 
I always wondered about this:

Allegations of plagiarism - "Hello, I Love You" by The Doors

In the liner notes to The Doors Box set, Robby Krieger has denied the allegations that the song's musical structure was stolen from Ray Davies, where a riff similar to it is featured in the Kinks "All Day and All of the Night". Instead, he said the song's vibe was taken from Cream's song "Sunshine of Your Love". According to the Doors biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, courts in the UK determined in favor of Davies and any royalties for the song are paid to him.
 
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49 - The Yardbirds, “Happenings 10 Years Time Ago” (1966)

Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page teamed up on this elaborate, psychodramatic masterpiece to contribute slashing rhythm parts, zig-zagging lead lines and a witty imitation of a police car’s siren.
This song is awesome. One of only three songs that Beck and Page recorded together as the Yardbirds. John Paul Jones sat in on bass here.

 
The list is very well thought out, so what follows here is just nitpicking:

The Yardbirds has a song way down at #49, but the band is underrepresented on this list. "Shapes of Things" and "Heart Full of Soul" should both be in the #20-30 range.

Nowhere near enough solo Jeff Beck, either -- "Beck's Bolero", at minimum, should be around #15.

 
"Helter Skelter" was the right call for the Beatles' heaviest. Though not necessarily lyrically heavy, I think a great case could be made to include "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on this list.

 
"Helter Skelter" was the right call for the Beatles' heaviest. Though not necessarily lyrically heavy, I think a great case could be made to include "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on this list.
I think "shes so heavy" should be the beatles song, infact, some metal bands cover it and it sounds awesome

 
"Helter Skelter" was the right call for the Beatles' heaviest. Though not necessarily lyrically heavy, I think a great case could be made to include "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on this list.
I think "shes so heavy" should be the beatles song, infact, some metal bands cover it and it sounds awesome
It's also there at #34, and rightfully so.

 
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"Helter Skelter" was the right call for the Beatles' heaviest. Though not necessarily lyrically heavy, I think a great case could be made to include "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on this list.
I think "shes so heavy" should be the beatles song, infact, some metal bands cover it and it sounds awesome
It's also there at #34, and rightfully so.
yeah I meant infront of helter skelter, I know manson made it famous - thats pretty metal in itself

 
29 - Iron Butterfly, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (1968)

Another entry often cited as being the first heavy metal song, the 17-minute-long title track from Iron Butterfly’s second studio album does have some impressive credentials, having been covered by Slayer.

22 - The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, "Fire" (1968)

“I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you fire!” So begins Arthur Brown’s “Fire,” a track so sinister that we’re willing to forgive its psychedelic vibe to place it at number 22 on the list. Also, the song’s video has been giving people nightmares since 1968. Fun fact: This song was produced by Pete Townshend.

17 - Cream, "Tales of Brave Ulysses" (1967)

Maybe the live versions of this Disraeli Gears classic are a notch or two heavier than the studio version -- but consider the mythical subject matter and the way Eric Clapton’s wah-wah pedal sends the listener sailng off to distant shaky, swirling places.

02 - MC5, "Kick Out the Jams" (1969)

“Kick out the jams, mother####ers!” So begins this ditty -- nearly three minutes of Detroit-fueled madness -- which delivered a spirited kick in the crotch to a world where the Bee Gees were starting a joke and the Foundations were building up butter cups. Among those who didn’t seem to “get it” was Rolling Stone reviewer Lester Bangs, who called the album “ridiculous, overbearing [and] pretentious.” That’s right: Before heavy metal had even begun, he had missed the entire point of it.
Growing up these all made my short list of greatest songs ever.

 
Holy #### that High Tide song is badass. Never even heard of those dudes before, definitely gonna have to check out some of their discography.
you have a non-blocked link? I can't find one on youtube.

Some of their other songs that I did find are rather interesting.

 
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I don't see any tracks off of Jeff Beck's Truth.
:goodposting:
Beck solo might be one of the biggest slights here, but at least he was represented by the Yardbirds. When you only have a few minor quibbles in a list of 50, you know the authors did a good job.
Yeah, but some tracks off of Tony Williams' Lifetime with John McLaughlin and Larry Young are heavier than any CCR, but that's me nitpicking.

 
love the Crimson call. "Schizoid" is tremendous. i think the Count Five selection is pretty week. I've listened to them before and always thought they were a just another random 60's garage rock band. it's a cute track with a nice hook but still...

 
I've always wondered what the reaction was to when people first heard Sabbath. Most of the songs on this list, while very good, don't come close to the change in sound that Sabbath brought from the opening notes of the song Black Sabbath.
I can't remember my first Black Sabbath notes. Although I do remember buying Master of Reality just for the cool cover art having never heard any metal in my life.

The first heavy notes I will always remember were Slayer's Black Magic. I had never heard anything like that in my life and I was forever changed.

 

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