Issued in 1970 as his second album for Creed Taylor's CTI label, Hubert Laws' Afro-Classic is a classic for the manner in which Laws, with brilliant assistance from arranger Don Sebesky, melded the jazz and classical worlds – not to mention pop – into a seamless whole. Laws was the first artist signed to Taylor's imprint. His debut for the label, Crying Song, won critical notice, but it was Afro-Classic that established a new role for the flute in contemporary jazz. Herbie Mann may have been the first, but Laws explored jazz and all the sound worlds that informed it – especially in the electric domain – with the kind of grace and innovative vision that made him a mainstay.
Paranoid was not only Black Sabbath’s most popular record (it was a number one smash in the U.K., and “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” both scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play), it also stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time. Paranoid refined Black Sabbath’s signature sound — crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock — and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics. Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like “War Pigs” and “Iron Man” (which sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history).