Many celebrities have checked into alcohol rehabs over the years, with varying results
Released in December of 1980, "Blizzard of Ozz" is perhaps one of the most important records in heavy metal history. Originally formed as the band "Blizzard of Ozz", the band's first album was to be released as a self titled record but was later changed to Blizzard of Ozz featuring Ozzy Osbourne. The record company would eventually title the record Ozzy Osbourne, with the album simply annotated "Blizzard of Ozz" much to the annoyance of bassist/songwriter Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake. Both were seasoned musicians, coming from bands like Uriah Heep and Rainbow. The record company felt that it was Ozzy's name that would sell records. The album was initially released in Europe. The buzz was instantaneous and American record companies couldn't help but take notice. The album was soon released to great success in the U.S. as well.
Prior to the "Blizzard of Ozz" I had been a Black Sabbath fan. For some reason, upon it's release I wasn't immediately attracted to this album. It was hugely popular when I was in high school, but I never really got into it. Over the years, and especially after the death of Rhoads, this album became known as a heavy metal classic. It wasn't until a decade after it's release that I really began to appreciate this album and the genius of Randy Rhoads. No doubt there is some excellent music on this disc, and no less than five of these songs continued to be Ozzy concert staples for years to come. Randy Rhoads was virtually an unknown outside of his home in Los Angeles where he was a notable guitar instructor and the guitarist for a popular club band known as Quiet Riot. His guitar playing wasn't overly complicated but he had a sound unlike anyone else and wrote some very memorable riffs, including one of Ozzy's most well known songs "Crazy Train". Aided by producer Max Norman, Rhoads had a biting guitar sound that was 100% heavy metal. Rhoads was aided by the writing skill of Bob Daisley. "Crazy Train" peaked at #9 on the mainstream rock charts and has remained a staple of rock radio for more than 25 years. "Dee" is a short acoustic interlude by Randy based on a classical guitar theme that is named after his mother, who he saw as a hero in his life. Several riffs from old Quiet Riot songs showed up on this record. The main riff to "Suicide Solution" was taken from one of Randy's early Quiet Riot numbers titled "Force of Habit". Portions of Ozzy's "Goodbye to Romance" came from the Quiet Riot numbers "Teenage Anthem" and "Laughing Gas". "Goodbye to Romance" was actually the first song the Blizzard of Ozz had written together and has also been a lasting song in the Ozzy catalog.
Unfortunately many religious groups jumped on the "Ozzy worships Satan" bandwagon due to some of the songs on this record. Indeed the lyrical ideas seem a bit dark, but this was mostly Bob Daisley's doing, as he was trying to keep with Ozzy's image he had with Black Sabbath. However, many of the songs were simply misinterpreted. "Suicide Solution" is a song that raised tons of controversy although the actual meaning of the lyrics don't seem to be promoting suicide. I've actually heard many different explanations for this song, including Ozzy's own explanation that the song was about the death of AC/DC singer Bon Scott. However, the explanations that seems most obvious is that the song was written about Ozzy himself. The lyrics were penned by bassist Bob Daisley who has said the song was actually written as a warning to Ozzy about his own habitual drinking habit ('solution' being equated to 'liquid'). With lyrics like "Wine is fine, but whiskey's quicker, suicide is slow with liqueur, take a bottle, drown your sorrows, then it floods away tomorrows...", this meaning is pretty clear. However, this didn't stop people from suing Ozzy over the suicides of several teenagers. Another song that caused a stir was "Mr. Crowley". Aleister Crowley was a black magician/occultist from the late 1800's. Many claimed that Ozzy wrote the song in homage to Aleister and thus it followed that Ozzy himself was a Satanist. However, the song was actually written as a criticism of Mr. Crowley.
In any case, "Blizzard of Oz" turned Ozzy into a star once again and set a standard for heavy metal in the early 80's. For that reason alone this album is a worthwhile addition to my heavy metal collection. It should also be noted that the Blizzard of Ozz remains Osbourne's highest-selling albums to date, selling over 4.1 million copies in the U.S. alone. Another interesting note about this CD is that "No Bone Movies" was originally recorded as a b-side for a single, but the band liked the song so much they included it on the album. Instead "You Looking At Me, Looking At You" was taken off the album and used as the b-side.
In one of the most shameless rip-offs in rock 'n roll, when Sharon Osbourne had this CD remixed and remastered in 2002, she also had the drum and bass tracks completely re-recorded by Robert Trujillo (bass) and Mike Bordin (drums). Although Bob Daisley & Lee Kerslake performed on the original recording, and co-wrote much of Ozzy's first 2 albums, they claimed that they never received any royalties, and filed a lawsuit against Ozzy to get paid. In reaction to the lawsuit, their tracks were deleted. The 2002 reissue does, however, include the b-side track "You Lookin' At Me Lookin' At You" as track #10.
Ozzy Osbourne - Speak of the Devil (Epic) 1981
Released after the untimely death of Randy Rhoads, this collection of live Black Sabbath classics is actually quite good. The impression that Ozzy gave the public was that he was so depressed over Randy's death, he didn't think it appropriate to actually release any songs from the first two Ozzy albums. There was some truth to this, but at the same time, this live album of Black Sabbath numbers was talked about before Randy's death. It is widely know that Randy didn't really want to do an album of Black Sabbath covers. This was confirmed in Rudy Sarzo's book "Off the Rails; Aboard the Crazy Train in the Blizzard of Ozz". However, the band was being forced to record the album by manager Don Arden as part of his agreement with his daughter Sharon to take over managing Ozzy completely. Regardless, it is well know that Ozzy struggled with depression over the loss of his friend and guitarist. Ozzy refused to allow any of Randy's live recordings to be released at the time as he did not want anyone to capitalize on Randy's death. Instead the band, which consisted of Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer extrodinaire Tommy Aldridge, went out with new guitarist Berne Torme (Gillan), who was later replaced by Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis. Gillis subsequently recorded the live album. "Speak of the Devil" was recorded live at The Ritz, New York, Sept 26th & 27th. 1982. Musically the band sounds excellent. Ozzy sounds a bit tired, but honestly, having grown up with this album I consider it a classic. This album was overshadowed only slightly by Black Sabbath's own live release "Live Evil" with Dio behind the mic.
The original cover design by Steve 'Krusher' Joule was released under a storm of controvery. The image of Ozzy with what appears to be bits of bloody guts in his mouth caused some shockwaves in the early 80's and helped to solidify the rumor that Ozzy was a 'Satanist.' The bloody guts were actually some sort of berry jam. The odd writing around the cover also was accused of being some Satanic symbolic writing, but was actually a hidden message to Ozzy's former friend and guitarist Randy Rhoads. Cannot remember any longer what the message actually was, but it was far from 'Satanic'. It's funny how people seem to mistake entertainment for reality.
This album was also released under the title 'Talk Of The Devil'.
"Bark At The Moon" was Ozzy's first studio disc after the tragic death of Randy Rhoads. For this disc, Ozzy brings in a young, unknown guitar shredder named Jake E. Lee. Also added to the band is keyboardists Don Airey of Rainbow fame and longtime drummer Tommy Aldridge. "Bark At the Moon" is one of my favorite Ozzy discs to this day due to the infections song writing. The first half of the disc sported most of the hits ("Bark At the Moon" and "Rock 'N' Roll Rebel") but the second half of the disc is just as good. "Centre of Eternity," "Slow Down" and the eerie Alice Cooper-like "Spiders in the Night" are among the best stuff Ozzy has ever done. "Spiders" is actually bonus track on the remastered edition of the disc but was originally released as a b-side on the "Bark At the Moon" single. For some odd reason, however, the big wigs at Sony decided not to put on the track "One Up the B-Side" which was, the b-side of the "So Tired" single. Anyhow, besides this minor annoyance, "Bark At The Moon" is Ozzy's most consistent albums from beginning to end.
This live disc was released several years after Randy Rhoad's tragic death. Many hold to the opinion that Randy was one of the greatest guitarists ever. AMG reviewer Steve Huey went so far as to say, "Randy Rhoads'...all-around ability was arguably second only to Eddie Van Halen." This live album is a testimony to the fact that Randy was great guitarist. It is filled with killer guitar solos and even a fun studio outtake of "Dee", a song named after Randy's mother."Tribute" is a bit heavy on songs from the first Ozzy album, but otherwise this is a cool live disc. Even includes a Tommy Aldridge drum solo.
Ozzy Osbourne - No Rest for the Wicked (Epic) 1988
1. "Miracle Man"
Exit guitar wizard Jake E. Lee, enter new unknown shredder Zakk Wylde. The new guitarist inspires some life into 'ol Ozzy cause this disc is great! Killer heavy metal from beginning to end. Of course, if you are reading this, you are probably already an Ozzy fan and already know this. Track 9 is not listed on the insert or cover anywhere."Hero" was a hidden track on the original "No Rest for the Wicked" and is included on the recent re-releases as well.
Ozzy Osbourne - Just Say Ozzy (Epic) 1990
1. "Miracle Man"
A short EP release of live tracks taken from the "No Rest for the Wicked" tour that featured Zakk Wylde on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass and Randy Castillo on drums. I wonder why the powers that be didn't add a few bonus tracks on the remastered edition. As it stands, not a bad EP, but far too short, especially when Ozzy has at least three other live cds. Despite this, a good listen.
Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tears (Epic) 1991
1. "Mr. Tinkertrain"
"No More Tears" is a more melodic album than most of what Ozzy had done to this point, but is also one of his finest albums in my opinion. Of course, with every Ozzy CD, there are the radio hits and this album sported two; "Mama, I'm Coming Home" and "No More Tears." However there are also some killer gems like the heavy as a freight train "Mr. Tinkertown" and the Lemmy/Ozzy collaboration "Hellraiser" that was also recorded by Motörhead for the movie of the same name. I actually prefer the Motörhead version but Ozzy's version is decent as well. Lemmy from Motörhead actually wrote the lyrics for "I Don't Want To Change The World", "Desire", "Hellraiser" and "Mama, I'm Coming Home".
Ozzy Osbourne - Live & Loud (Epic) 1993
For every two studio albums, Ozzy seems to have a live album. This particular live disc from every metalheads favorite elf, is particularly good though. "Just Say Ozzy" was far too short. The Randy Rhoads Tribute was good, but featured too much material from the first record, and "Speak of the Devil", while being a good disc, featured only Black Sabbath material. As with every Ozzy live platter, "Live & Loud" is a testament of Ozzy's arsenal of guitarists through the year. Certainly Zakk Wylde is no slacker, nor is skin pounder Randy Castillo. According to the liner notes, this CD was to be a testament to Ozzy who was retiring from touring and recording. Of course, we all know that didn't happen. One thing about Ozzy in a live setting, he really needs to keep his mouth closed between songs because he just sounds like an idiot. I mean the man really needs to invest in a dictionary and learn some new words, or at least another word besides "f**k." Picked up the special edition digi-version with the speaker grill over the front cover and the little gold Ozzy plate (pictured above).
I've seen several bad review of this album, and while it may not be Ozzy's strongest overall, it just sounds like Ozzy to me. So what's the big deal? "Perry Mason" is one of the most infectious songs Ozzy has ever recorded. That heavy Zakk Wylde guitar riff will have any headbanger in an ears distance banging their heads...and that's just track number one! Track number two is an Ozzy Jim Vallance collaboration. Jim has worked with such notable bands as Aerosmith and Ted Nugent in the past and has helped them to score huge radio hits. Certainly "I Just Want You" is one of the best power ballads in Ozzy's repertoire. "Ghost Behind My Eyes" is co-written by Mark Hudson and Ozzy and sounds a bit more like an Alice Cooper song than an Ozzy song, but it's still not a bad track. "Thunder Underground" is a heavy, groove laden song. Zakk's guitar tone laid on top the heavy bass tones are just outstanding. "See You On the Other Side" is another excellent power ballad co-written by Ozzy and Lemmy (Motorhead), Other songs have Ozzy writing with Steve Via and Geezer Butler, who also plays bass on this album. Keyboards are handled by the one and only Rick Wakeman of Yes fame. Dean Castronova is credited with the drum work. So, as I said, I don't see what the big deal was/is. It sounds like Ozzy to me.
Long time drummer, Randy Castillo, passed away from cancer in April 2002.
Ozzy Osbourne - The Ozzman Cometh (Epic) 1997
Seven studio solo albums, seven studio albums with Black Sabbath, a tons of live-albums and, Ozzy finally releases a "best-of" compilation. I'm not sure that I, or any Ozzy fan, could be totally happy with the track listing. I mean, Ozzy has never survived on singles, he has always been an album oriented artist, so there are favorite tracks that will not appear on this collection that some will think is a crime. I, for one, think that "Perry Mason" should have been included. Regardless, there is also a nice offering of rarities on this disc to make it worth owning. The four Black Sabbath classics are completely different from the studio versions on the Black Sabbath album. There is also an outtake from the "Ozzmosis" sessions called "Back To Earth" which is actually a pretty good song. I can't even see why it was left off that album. Overall, probably more essential for the four Black Sabbath tunes than anything else, but essential none-the-less.
A cool 2-cdr collection of Ozzy rarities put together by a fellow cd-aholic who goes by the name of King God Space. Anyhow, disc one covers all the b-sides & rare tracks from Ozzy's solo work. Disc two features Ozzy appearing on songs by other artists, a few of which he appears singing only background vocals. I can't even hear Ozzy on a couple of these. ("Vertical Man" & "It's Only Rock and Roll") I've always liked the duet he did with Lita Ford. The Steppenwolf cover he did with Miss Piggy is pretty funny. However, disc one is the real gem in this collection. This disc is great b-side collections, some of which should really have been considered for the albums.
Ozzy Osbourne - Down to Earth (Epic) 2001
1. "Gets Me Through"
Have you ever sat around and thought to yourself, "Gee, I wonder what it would be like if Ozzy hired some crappy nu-metal band to play behind him." Well, rejoice for you have to wonder no longer. "Down to Earth" is as close to that at you may ever actually hear. Actually, in all seriousness, Ozzy still sounds like Ozzy, except that producer Tim Palmer gives the madman's band more of a muddy grunge sound than a crisp heavy metal sound, which takes the punch out of otherwise cool songs like "That I Never Had', "Junkie" and "Gets Me Through". The guitars are muffled, buzzy and not as crisp as I'd prefer. Perhaps 'ol Ozzy was attempting to compete with all the bands he brings with him on his nu-metal freak show, humbly titled Ozzfest. Still, there are some good songs on this disc. "Gets Me Through" is the most Black Sabbath like song I have heard from Ozzy in a long time. In predictable Ozzy style, he gives us the song that will offend every Christian preacher in the world in "Facing Hell". We even get the predictable cheese ballads in "Dreamer" and "Running Out of Time." Longtime Ozzy guitarist Zakk Wylde is back laying down some choice solos but this time with Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo and Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin backing him up. Overall, cannot claim that this is one of my favorite Ozzy platters, but certainly it's not bad either. It's just Ozzy!
Ozzy Osbourne - Live At Budokan (Epic/Sony) 2002
The first question everyone asked when this one came out was, "why ANOTHER live album?" After releasing "Speak of the Devil", "Tribute", "Just Say Ozzy", "Live & Loud", and both Ozzye-fronted Black Sabbath live discs, one would think that Ozzy had exhausted the live records. However, I suppose to cash in on the popularity of his MTV show "The Osbournes" this live album, recording in Japan was released. However, there are some positives about this disc. First of all, Ozzy's band sounds great! Robert Trujillo, Mide Vordin, John Sinclair on keys, and especially Zakk Wylde sound great! Zakk as been the cornerstone of Osbourne's sound for a longer period of time than any other sideman he has ever worked with. Wylde's squealing leads and crunchy guitar tone sounds great here. He truly is an amazing talent. As for the vocals, however, this is his weakest vocal performance captured on disc so far. Another negative is the track listing, which besides including some tracks from "Down To Earth", features those same songs you have heard live a hundred-thousand times. I sort of wish he would have dug up some forgotten classic like "Ultimate Sin", "Waiting For Darkness", "Mr Tinkertrain", "Diary Of A Madman", "Over The Mountain", or even an obscure Sabbath classic. This would have made this disc less of a cash-in and more vital to Ozzy's hordes of fans. There isn't even a song from the underrated "Ozzmosis". I wouldn't have minded hearing "Perry Mason", "See You On the Other Side" or "I Just Want You". However, despite the numerous complaints, this disc isn't all that bad. As I stated, the band sounds great and I can't really say I didn't enjoy hearing "Bark At The Moon" and "I Don't Know" for the umpteenth time. Sooooo, "Live at Budokan" is not something to completely avoid, but there are much better live discs available featuring the madman.
Ozzy is one of the godfathers of Heavy Metal. There is just no denying his legacy in both Black Sabbath and with his own solo work. As such, a box set, is certainly appropriate. The first two CDs are Ozzy's solo work containing various studio recordings, re-recordings, live tracks, b-sides, demos, etc. The last two CDs are; duets on disc three and cover songs on disc four. The cover versions were recorded specifically for this box set compilation.
Ozzy - Under Cover (Epic) 2005
1. "Rocky Mountain
Originally included as part of his 'Prince Of Darkness' Box Set, Under Cover is now available as a single CD (or as a Dual Disc) with 3 additional songs. Personally, I was not overly excited about this CD especially after hearing Ozzy's version of "Sympathy for the Devil" on local rock radio. Ozzy chose hit songs to cover that he listened to growing up in the '60s and '70s like Mountain's heavy metal classic "Mississippi Queen," Creem's psychedelic "Sunshine Of Your Love" and the mellow John Lennon classic "Woman." You can tell Ozzy is a big Beatles fan since two Lennon songs and a Beatles song are among the thirteen on the CD. Osbourne recruited some of the original artists to help out on his versions. Leslie West plays a guitar solo on "Mississippi Queen" while Mott The Hoople's Ian Hunter lends some backing vocals to "All The Young Dudes." It sounds like Ozzy might have had fun recording these tracks. For the most part, however, Ozzy has chosen songs that fall outside of the heavy metal he is known for. It is for this reason that Ozzy seems a bit out of his element. While he sounds good on the aforementioned "Mississippi Queen" and surprisingly good on the the creepy Moody Blues classic "Go Now", others like the "For What It's Worth"" and "Sympathy For the Devil" just don't seem to work as well. Despite this, I think 'Under Cover' shows Ozzy's diversity and versatility and isn't quite as bad as what I was expecting. I actually enjoyed it a bit. It's almost like seeing Ozzy sing at your local tavern on kereoke night. What? That doesn't sound like a good thing to you? Hmmm...
Ozzy Osbourne - Black Rain (Epic Records) 2007
1. "Not Going Away"
Over his nearly 40 year career, Ozzy has enjoyed some great highs, some embarrassing lows (ie. The Osbournes), but with albums such as Black Sabbath, Master of Reality, Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of a Madman, No More Tears, etc., Ozzy has solidified his position as one of heavy metal's most well known and respected front men. His name seems to be synonymous with heavy metal. However, at the age of 60, Ozzy isn't what he was in those days. He was never a great vocalist, but what he lacked technically, he made up for in charisma and attitude. Unfortunately, that charisma isn't heard so much here. Fortunately Ozzy surrounds himself with excellent musicians and "Black Rain" is no exception. Led by longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde, "Black Rain" sounds very much like a Black Label Society album with Ozzy on vocals. Mid-paced, downtuned, sludge riffs and Zakk's signature pinch harmonic, backed by a solid rhythm section of Rob "Blasko" Nicholson (Bass) and Mike Bordin (drums) and some nice lead work are typical of this album. There are a few good rockers on this one. I have no doubt that "I Don't Wanna Stop" will be a rock radio staple and a concert favorite. Likewise, "Not Going Away" and "The Almighty Dollar" are good Ozzy rockers. There are also the obligatory ballads, both of which aren't bad but neither of which stand up to greats like "Goodbye to Romance" or "Mama, I'm Coming Home". "Black Rain" certainly isn't a bad record. I think most long-time, die-hard Ozzy fans will be pleased. However, if anyone is expecting another "Blizzard of Ozz" or even "No More Tears", they may be disappointed. Ozzy's first record in 7 years is a step above "Down to Earth" but no where near as exciting as some of his best work.
I have a bit of a gripe about the packaging for the U.S. release. The CD is packaged in a cheap, thin, grey, cardboard sleeve with no cd tray or booklet. No lyrics, no liner notes, not even a stinkin' photo. This wouldn't be so bad if this album were sold at a discounted price. Instead, the I've seen prices on this CD at $15.99 and above. I purchased my copy at Hasting's the day it was released for the sale price of $11.99. Best Buy also had the CD on sale the week of it's release for $9.99. Apparently the record company is calling this cheap packaging "eco-friendly", because the CD sleeve made out of recycled paper. The lack of a booklet is said to "save paper." Ahhh, I guess giving the fans a five cent paper sleeve, instead of a quality package is one way to make a few more bucks. Ahhh, "The Almighty Dollar". iTunes buyers can download an exclusive track titled "Love to Hate" which I am sure will later show up on a "special edition" release of "Black Rain." Likewise, the Japanese version includes two tracks, "Nightmare" and "I Can't Save You". The European version has no bonus tracks but does come in a jewel case with a complete CD booklet. The picture to the left above is the European cover. I know own a copy of both the U.S. version and the European version.
Ozzy Osbourne - Scream (Epic) 2010