so. being the kind of switched on, plugged in, 24 hour rolling celebrity tittle-tattle media slaves you doubtless are you may have heard about how our cranky and eccentric old friend captain kirk has recorded a version of sabbath’s iron man. indeed. (black shatner – now there’s a name for a band.) it’s not that bad either to be honest. sounds like it was a lot of fun to do. more than it is to listen to for the most part. it’s nothing on his version of ‘common people’ although there’s a forthcoming album, so no doubt there’s something special tucked under that handsome wig for us. a new version of ‘rocket man’ I believe and he and elton actually look like each other these days don’t you think? a duet, is that possible? the only thing better would be a new star trek movie starring elton as kirk, waving his fat, ringed hand at spock (played by david furnish) dismissively. now then, I’m an absolute sucker for electronic reworkings of sabbath stuff, so here then is four tet’s more interesting take on it, if you wanna hear bill’s just google it – it’s all over the place.
and yes, you are right, that up there is indeed the rotunda, in the golden city of birmingham, toward which I pray twice daily. perhaps replaced as brum’s most iconic building in recent years by selfridges (which incidentally appears in the album artwork of four tet’s ’rounds’). back around the turn of the century I was involved in a public art project in brum and wrote a piece considering the merits and failures of the tony hancock sculpture that graces old square. when I suggested that anthony gormley’s ‘iron man’ be offset at the other end of new street by a statue of ozzy (preferably in the fringed outfit off vol4) I was not taken particularly seriously. but I was only partly joking. hancock had only a partial connection to the city and was a drunk who had killed himself on the other side of the world. Ozzy meanwhile had beaten alcoholism and was a local musician whose work had achieved remarkable influence all over the world, certainly more far reaching than hancock’s parochially english comedy (not that it wasn’t funny of course). this was still a couple of years before ‘the osbournes’ brought ozzy and his family into the world’s homes and hearts and we all realised he was just a sweet, doddery old bloke confused by fatherhood, his wife’s tiny yapping dogs and the very house he lived in. back then he was seen as past his best, a best that was held in pretty low regard. the city council were certainly not feeling any civic pride around sabbath, thankfully that’s been redressed a little lately with the home of metal exhibition and, in a strange kind of way, this mainstreaming of sabbath’s music and achievement brings us back around to bill shatner singing ‘iron man’.