TOP OF THE HEAP: OZZY OSBOURNE
You shouldn't need us to introduce you to the man they call Ozzy. Any good student of heavy metal history should know the name and his association with the band Black Sabbath. As the "Godfather Of Heavy Metal" Ozzy has carved out quite a career as a musician and reality TV star. Before he was known for yelling "Sharon!" though he was actually quite the hell raiser. His battles with drugs and alcohol had lead to his departure from Black Sabbath and on his debut solo album those demons are front and center. Blizzard Of Ozz had been planned as a solo outing while he was still in Black Sabbath but by the time it was fully realized Ozzy was on a one way path to true stardom. Released on September 20, 1980 in the UK and on March 27, 1981 in the U.S. Blizzard Of Ozz would go on to be arguably one of Ozzy Osbourne's best and most controversial albums. It would reach #21 on the Billboard 200 chart and go on to be one of the top 100 best-selling records of the eighties. It is also his best selling album to date. More important though was the fact that it was the first real glimpse that people would get of a young guitarist named Randy Rhoads. Having previously played with Quiet Riot this album would make Rhoads a legend. With lyrics provided by various band members (including bass player Bob Daisy) and music that started with Black Sabbath but ended with Grade A hard rock this album is a heavy metal goldmine. Starting with "I Don't Know" you knew this one was going to be something truly remarkable. The album has this hypnotic hold on you from the start. "Crazy Train" has been covered by more garage bands that you can imagine. The song is a rock and roll damnation number. It was Ozzy's version of "Highway To Hell" and it struck a nerve with kids then and now. "Goodbye To Romance" is a number that still haunts. Like a love song from death to death it catches you in it's cold embrace. "Dee" is short and sweet. Now for those two numbers that have managed to be so controversial even after all these years. "Suicide Solution" has been criticized and analyzed a billion times over. Those on the far right said it promoted suicide while those on the far left said it was a song about substance abuse. Ozzy says it was about Bon Scott while Bob Daisey says it was about Ozzy. Either way you slice it the song describes a slow descent into hell and like "Crazy Train" reads deeper than the cover suggests. "Mr. Crowley" features some of the most recognizable music in all of heavy metal. Inspired by books that he had read about Aleister Crowley (as well as a deck of tarot cards supposedly found in the studio) Ozzy Osbourne wrote the song that would help land him on the list of "devil music" and cement his place as a bad boy of rock n' roll. It should be mentioned that the second guitar solo in "Mr Crowley" is ranked number 28 on Guitar World Magazine's poll of the "100 greatest guitar solos" and number 34 on Planet Rock's list of the 50 greatest guitar solos. Played by Randy Rhoads it is also ranked number 1 Greatest Metal Guitar solo on DigitalDreamDoor.com. Don Airey plays the distinctive organ introduction at the beginning of "Mr.Crowley" which is both classical and down right spooky!"No Bone Movies" is a steady rock number and "Revelation (Mother Earth)" has remained a favorite as well. "Steal Away (The Night)" closed off this perfect piece of rock history proving that their was life for Ozzy Osbourne post-Black Sabbath. Now I used to have this one on LP and gave it away to a friend. That was back int the day when cassettes were still around (CDs were not really the only way to go like right now) and for whatever reason I never replaced my copy. I figured sooner or later I would pick it up on CD myself. How was I supposed to know that Blizzard of Ozz would be re-released in 2002 with the original bass and drum tracks (recorded by Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake respectively) removed and replaced by new recordings by Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin? In a move that would shock and frankly piss-off fans (including me!) this album was cut up and patched back together with new parts. With the original CD release fetching big bucks I had missed my chance. Supposedly the new releases will have the bass and drums tracks restored to their proper place. I hope so. This album is a classic! Could you imagine taking any other classic heavy metal record and re-recording only certain parts and then releasing it? I couldn't and still don't understand: A)Who came up with this stupid idea? and B)Who would buy this crap? Blizzard Of Ozz is an album that stands out front showcasing just how hard rock and heavy metal can be both brutal and beautiful. Simply the best thing Ozzy has ever done. Why mess with such success?
Metal Mark says-
Remember when Ozzy was right up there with Maiden and Priest as the best solid metal bands aroudn? Yes, that was a long time ago indeed as it's been two decades since Ozzy release a good album. Without a doubt his best two solo albums where the first two. Blizzard of Ozz opened up the doors indeed with a kind of life that Ozzy hadn't showed in some time. His backing bacn was stellar for sure. However there is no doubt in my mind that the sophomore album was even better. "Diary of a madman" is a haunting powerhouse of an album with Ozzy and Randy Rhoads at their best. I remember spending many a time listening to this one vinyl over and over in the basement when I was teenager. "Over the mountain" and "Flying high again" were staples of Ozzy's peak and probably the most known tracks on this album, but the rest of the album is full of plenty of gems. "You can't kill rock and roll" just fits so well with Ozzy's attitude at the time. Very few artists can do a song with "rock and roll" in the title and not sound cheesy, but he pulls it off. "Believer" is another powerful track that sometimes gets overlooked. "Little dolls" is another classic with Ozzy's vocals fitting perfectly and some great riffs from Rhoads. "Tonight" glides on some killer melodies. The last two tracks "S.A.T.O" and the title track are possibly my two favorites on this album as both benefit from spectacular writing. It's a shame Rhoads died so young because I think that this album showed some definite progress from the debut. Ozzy never did an album after this that came close to this level of excellence. I never tire of this album and it is definitely one that needs to be listened to in it's entirety to really enjoy all that went into this fantastic classic.
***What is your favorite Ozzy album?