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Quartz

Quartz

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Album Review

Birmingham's Quartz remains one of the 1970s' greatest heavy metal enigmas. Championed by Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, who took it upon himself to produce the band, Quartz's first album was so fraught with contradictions that it confused both metalheads and commercial rock fans. And understandably so, since, on the one hand, listeners get the saccharine lyrics of delicate acoustic singles like "Sugar Rain" and "Little Old Lady," while on the other, there's the full-on metal offensive of "Pleasure Seekers" and colossal opener "Mainline Riders." A landmark of '70s heavy metal, the latter's inexorable march and signature bassline were so timeless that they would both later resurface with only small alterations on Sabbath's epic "Heaven and Hell." Less ubiquitous but still quite powerful hard rockers like "Street Fighting Lady" and "Devil's Brew" (featuring excellent synthesizer work from bandmember Geoff Nichols, himself later adopted into the Sabbath fold) continue to profess a metallic attitude, but their impact is continually dampened by the pop-inflected material that surrounds them. Needless to say, such a schizophrenic creative process could only lead to internal struggles, and when compounded by record company difficulties (the band's label, United Artists, went bankrupt shortly after the album's release), Quartz's early promise would sadly but predictably go unfulfilled. [Though it has now slipped into historical obscurity, the Quartz album was given a brief afterlife when it was reissued two years later by Jet Records in a plain brown cardboard sleeve and enigmatically renamed Deleted.]

Quartz, Quartz
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