Gary Rees, the stepson and executor of the estate of SABBATH’s longtime keyboardist Geoff Nicholls, shared the track last Friday (March 5), writing in an accompanying message that he had found it on a cassette tape that contained other material recorded during SABBATH’s 1979 songwriting sessions for the following year’s album “Heaven And Hell“.
Asked in an interview with SiriusXM’s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” on Thursday (March 11) what he could remember anything about this purportedly unreleased tune, Iommi said: “I’m not at all happy with [Nicholls’s estate releasing the song] — at all. And it’s left a really bad taste in my mouth. At that point, when we did that, Geoff wasn’t even involved in the band; I hadn’t even got Geoff over at that time. That is actually Ronnie playing bass on that… And that was just in the lounge recorded on a cassette.”
As for why “Slapback” never saw the light of day before, Iommi said: “We had one or two things that we’d jam around on and play on and stuff, but it [wasn’t] right for the album, so we didn’t put it into shape; we didn’t record it [properly] or anything,” he explained.
Iommi’s assertion that Dio played bass on “Slapback” seemingly contradicts Geezer Butler’s claim that he is featured on the track. On Monday, the BLACK SABBATH bassist told: “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” that “Slapback” was one of the songs he and his bandmates worked on before he exited SABBATH for a short time in order to deal with some personal issues. “It’s probably the reason I did leave,” he joked. “It was just one of those songs that didn’t make the grade.”
Asked if he in fact played bass on the recording that was uploaded to YouTube, Butler said: “Yeah, that was right before I left. It was just a one-off thing. We just jammed it and didn’t think anything more of it. It didn’t really work.”
The “Slapback” upload came a month and a half after Rees shared a previously unreleased rehearsal recording of BLACK SABBATH playing the “Heaven And Hell” title track during the same sessions. That recording featured Nicholls on bass due to Butler’s absence during the initial writing stage for the LP.
Butler went on to say that it’s “incredible” to see both these recordings see the light of day more than 40 years later. “And it’s quite good quality as well,” he said. “I’ve heard the two songs from the Geoff Nicholls thing. It’s reasonable quality.”
Listen to the track below: