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Black Sabbath – “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” / “Changes” international single covers

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Oct 31st, 2020. Artwork published in .
    Spanish release, probably with the most elaborate type treatment: Georg Trump’s  was slanted, set on a dramatic angle with tight letterspacing, and further enhanced with a gradient fill, gloomy shadows, and blood dripping from the double o. The script is contrasted with all-caps  Bold. The same sleeve design was also used in Germany and Austria. [More info on Discogs]
    Source: www.45cat.com Kyuss1 / 45cat. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Spanish release, probably with the most elaborate type treatment: Georg Trump’s Time Script was slanted, set on a dramatic angle with tight letterspacing, and further enhanced with a gradient fill, gloomy shadows, and blood dripping from the double o. The script is contrasted with all-caps Washington Bold. The same sleeve design was also used in Germany and Austria. [More info on Discogs]

    Five very different sleeve designs from various European countries for “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, the opening title track and first single release from Black Sabbath’s album of the same name, released in late 1973 with “Changes” as B-side.

    The covers provide a cross section of what was popular in display type at the time, although it’s difficult to make out one common trend. There’s the multiline/Op art theme (Black Line), the unearthed turn-of-the-century oddities (Tintoretto, Frankonia) including the hippie revival of Jugendstil/Secession forms (Dreamline), and the amorphous, bottom-heavy styles (Bottleneck, Putty Bold) that had come in fashion shortly before. At the same time, we see various sans serifs, ranging from classics to contemporary heavyweights (Antique Olive Compact, Neil Bold) and new interpretations of Art Deco themes (Washington, Premier Shaded), to futuristic ones (Handel Gothic). Eight out of 14 typeface designs originated in phototype and dry transfer, four were created in the previous three years. Now one could ask the chicken-and-egg question: Were those typefaces trending that were offered by the type providers? Or did the font makers respond to the current trends?

    What I find more interesting is the fact that there were hardly any genre-specific typeface preferences yet. None of the featured typefaces is inherently “metal” or “hard rock”. This is different for the album: With the stylized blackletter on the cover, it’s instantly clear what kind of music it contains. Mean letterforms for mean music. On the international single sleeves, though, the styles are all over the place. Those were often made by local divisions of record labels and distributors. In most cases, the bands had no word in the design decisions. There was no well-defined genre typography yet, it was all still “pop type”. Just compare this set of covers to another one by ABBA from around the same time. The music and fanbase is very different. The type styles are fairly similar, though, and some fonts are even the same.

    The French version by Série Parade/Vertigo likewise does without a photograph. It features bichromatic  caps paired with lowercase  for the titles. Note the mirrored quote marks. [More info on Discogs]
    Source: www.discogs.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    The French version by Série Parade/Vertigo likewise does without a photograph. It features bichromatic Tintoretto caps paired with lowercase Frankonia for the titles. Note the mirrored quote marks. [More info on Discogs]

    Scandinavian version by Vertigo, ft. . [More info on Discogs]
    Source: www.ebay.de riding-a-swan. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Scandinavian version by Vertigo, ft. Antique Olive Compact. [More info on Discogs]

    Italian pressing on WWA Records ft.  and Gill Sans. [More info on Discogs] Why’s the final letter in the band name from the lowercase? As there’s nothing too fancy about Bottleneck’s H, I have to assume that the designer ran out of dry-transfer letters. The third B looks fishy, too – it may have been made by repurposing parts of other characters.
    Source: www.ebay.co.uk License: All Rights Reserved.

    Italian pressing on WWA Records ft. Bottleneck and Gill Sans. [More info on Discogs] Why’s the final letter in the band name from the lowercase? As there’s nothing too fancy about Bottleneck’s H, I have to assume that the designer ran out of dry-transfer letters. The third B looks fishy, too – it may have been made by repurposing parts of other characters.

    The Portuguese release wins the prize for most typefaces, randomly picked. The front cover has bichromatic  with filled-in counters and both forms of A, arranged on a bouncing baseline and paired with all-caps  and  …
    Source: www.discogs.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    The Portuguese release wins the prize for most typefaces, randomly picked. The front cover has bichromatic Premier Shaded with filled-in counters and both forms of A, arranged on a bouncing baseline and paired with all-caps Neil Bold and Putty Bold

    … while the back cover surprises with a completely different, equally variegated mix of fonts. ft. , , , and  Condensed Italic. [More info on Discogs]
    Source: www.discogs.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    … while the back cover surprises with a completely different, equally variegated mix of fonts. ft. Black Line, Handel Gothic, Dreamline, and Univers Condensed Italic. [More info on Discogs]

    Typefaces

    • Time Script
    • Washington
    • Tintoretto
    • Frankonia
    • Antique Olive Compact
    • Bottleneck
    • Gill Sans
    • Premier Shaded
    • Neil Bold
    • Putty Bold
    • Black Line
    • Handel Gothic
    • Dreamline
    • Univers

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