OZZY OSBOURNE

"Scream" (Epic; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

In order to escape the TV clown persona that has stuck to Ozzy Osbourne over the past few years, it was important for him to get back to his rock star image; his next album had to kick serious ass or it was likely he would never recover from the likes of "The Osbournes Variety Show." Things seemed to be going in the right direction when Ozzy hired Gus G. to take over guitar duties for the new album - nothing against Zakk Wylde but it was indeed time for some fresh blood.

The final result is Osbourne's tenth studio album, "Scream," which delivers some of Ozzy's heaviest ever music and perhaps the best anthem Ozzy has recorded since his first solo album.

Let's discuss the good stuff first: As mentioned above, track two on "Scream" is entitled "Let Me Hear You Scream" and, not only is it Ozzy's battlecry during his many Ozzfest appearances, it's also easily the best song on the CD and perhaps the best fist-pumping anthem Ozzy's recorded in twenty years. Just try not to get caught up in Ozzy's rabid urging to "Scream like you want it; yell like you mean it," especially when buoyed by Gus G's amazing razor sharp solos. If every song on "Scream" were this good, this would have been one of his best CDs ever.

Unfortunately, such is not the case. Instead, "Scream" is a choppy collection of plodding, bass-heavy tunes that may have enough force to shake the walls of your home, but not enough charisma to make you tap your feet. A couple of the tracks feel like filler, especially the 62-second "I Love You All" (another nod to Ozzy's on-stage performance) that feels genuine but is so light and sweet it feels completely out of place, even as the album's last track.

Uneven as it may be, however, "Scream" gets big points for the fretwork of Gus G., who makes every track listenable even when it isn't instantly grabbing. It's somewhat ironic that Gus starts "Scream" with a couple of Zakk Wylde's trademark squeals, but it's there the similarities end. Gus and Zakk are both awesome guitarists and both bring something different to Ozzy. I don't think the music on "Scream" would have worked as well with Zakk on the axe and would even go so far as to say that Ozzy's original concern was correct: With Zakk on "Scream," it might have sounded a bit too much like Black Label Society.

The bottom line is that "Scream" may not completely earn back Ozzy Osbourne's rock star card, but it certainly takes him a step in the right direction away from being the TV clown we've all grown so tired of. There's life in the old Prince of Darkness yet.

For more information, check out www.ozzyosbourne.com

"Black Rain" (Epic; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Black Rain" is the legendary Ozzy Osbourne's first album of new tunes in nearly five years. With ace-in-the-hole Zakk Wylde supplying his magical fretwork, and Ozzy working for what has been reported as the first time he's ever recorded sober, there was little chance that "Black Rain" would be anything less than the classic metal that Ozzy is best known for. I'm happy to report that "Black Rain" lives up to its advance hype.

First and foremost, Ozzy sounds great. Not only is his normal singing voice still as haunting and unique as ever, there are several moments when Ozzy allows a certain rawness to creep into his vocals, giving the music an even more human and emotional sound. My only complaint about the vocals on "Black Rain" is the excessive use of filters on too many songs that muffle and sterilize Ozzy's voice. It's an unnecessary and pointless effect that, thankfully, isn't used all that often.

And these four words should tell you all else you need to know about "Black Rain": Guitar by Zakk Wylde. Once again, Zakk pulls out all the stops, delivering muscular, driving riffs, fiery leads and chunky, ride-along rhythms. Wylde is a master of taking a classic sound and giving it a swift kick in the pants and his work on "Black Rain" is more evidence of why he is one of the most revered axe-slingers in heavy metal.

The songwriting throughout "Black Rain" is somewhat more modern than on previous Ozzy releases and that is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because this album will probably appeal more to new audiences who are just discovering Ozzy. It's a curse because it runs the risk of alienating long-time Ozzy fans who prefer the classic sound. Fortunately, the CD goes to neither modern or classic extreme.

The ballads here are perhaps even better than on recent records, with huge choruses, irresistible melodies and thoughtful lyrics that won't make you embarrassed to sing out loud when you hear them on the radio. 

Once again, Ozzy Osbourne has recorded a CD that reminds us why he is the legend he is. Despite all the cheesy television, despite all the drug jokes, Ozzy continues to make great music. And that's why we rally to him each year at Ozzfest.

Performing on "Black Rain" are: Ozzy Osbourne - Vocals; Zakk Wylde - Guitar; Rob "Blasko" Nicholson - Bass; Mike Bordin - Drums.

For more information, check out www.ozzyosbourne.com

"Live at Budokan" (Epic; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Recorded at Budokan Hall on February 15, 2002, "Live at Budokan" is exactly what you'd expect from a live album featuring the legendary Ozzy Osbourne. It's thirteen songs, all of which are big hits, and they're loud, rough and raw.

The tremendous band behind him gives "Live at Budokan" a sound it might not otherwise have. With maestros like Zakk Wylde on guitar and Robert Trujillo on bass, those old, classic Ozzy songs on this CD seem to garner a new, richer sound.

Still, we've heard them all before and, as much as I hate to admit it, they sounded better back in the day of "Speak of the Devil." "Live at Budokan" doesn't have the charisma or spark that particular live album did. Of course, that was 20 years ago and you've got to give the Ozzman some leeway for that reason.

All told, "Live at Budokan" still rocks. It may not be Ozzy's best live album ... but it's still Ozzy.

Performing on "Live at Budokan" are Ozzy Osbourne, vocals; Zakk Wylde - guitars; Robert Trujillo - bass; Mike Bordin - drums; John Sinclair - keyboards.

For more information, check out http://www.ozzy.com

"Down to Earth" (Epic; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's been six long years since metal master Ozzy Osbourne graced us with a new studio CD. Sure, he's been on tour with the ever-popular Ozzfest and sure, he recorded a couple of new tracks for that live Black Sabbath CD, but it's been a long time - too long - since we got a strictly Ozzy studio record.

But now "Down to Earth" is here and we have only one question to ask ... and to answer: Was it worth the wait?

Absolutely.

"Down to Earth" is a return of the Ozzy Osbourne that fled Black Sabbath and recorded solo albums like "Speak of the Devil" and "Diary of a Madman." Albums that have become classics of the genre. The last few Ozzy albums haven't been bad; they just haven't been great. "Down to Earth" is great.

With Black Label Society's Zakk Wylde back wielding the axe, Ozzy and crew lay down 11 blistering tunes that are as fresh, as sharp and as crisp as the tunes on the early Ozzy solos. The lyrics are stunningly honest and open and Ozzy himself has never sounded better. Not only is his voice clear and strong, but the emotion in his vocals is back and more powerful than ever. 

That's why tunes like "Dreamer" (which Ozzy calls his answer to John Lennon's "Imagine"), the brief "You Know ... Part 1" and "Running Out of Time" are so effective. Ozzy's "ballads" (please excuse the use of that cliché term) are so far superior to other ballads of the genre, it's like comparing a Yugo to a Rolls Royce. 

But, of course, it's not the ballads that most Oz-fans are eager for. It's the hard, crunching rockers bursting with Ozzy's trademark, near-insanity level vocals. And Ozzy and Wylde deliver it in large, chunky pieces that will have any Ozzy fan banging his head in delirious pleasure.

It's hard to say "Ozzy's back!" because he hasn't really gone anywhere. But "Down to Earth" is sure to bring renewed success to one of the true pioneers of the heavy metal genre; a pioneer who is as good as his game now as he ever was.

As if all that weren't enough, a Limited Edition enhanced CD version is also available containing what the label advertises as "the only video footage of Ozzy and Randy Rhoads playing Crazy Train and Mr. Crowley." 

Performing on "Down to Earth" are: Ozzy Osbourne - vocals; Zakk Wylde - guitars; Robert Trujillo - bass; Mike Bordin - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.ozzy.com, http://www.ozzynet.com and http://www.epicrecords.com

"The Ozzman Cometh" (Epic; 1996)

Reviewed by Snidermann

This collection of songs from the godfather of metal music has all the Ozzy tunes that we metal fans have played over and over and over again throughout the years. It is the perfect reminder that Ozzy is in a class of his own and has an almost mystical energy that keeps him at the top of the heavy metal master list.

Honestly, I had forgotten about all the bitchin' music that the Oz has delivered over the past few decades but this CD was an instant reminder. "Crazy Train," "Mr. Crowley," (I had almost totally forgot about that one; great to hear it again), "Bark At The Moon," "Shot In The Dark," "Crazy Babies," "No More Tears," "Mama I’m Coming Home" and more. 

Not only does this release chronicle Ozzy himself, there are two previously unreleased "basement cuts" of the Black Sabbath tunes "Black Sabbath" and "War Pig." Both are gems! 

Ozzy is not only a unique talent in his own right but - as anyone reading this already knows - he has an almost uncanny knack of putting incredible talent behind him. Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde and, of course, the late great Randy Rhoads make up most of the guitar work on this CD. And it was a real surprise to read that Rick Wakeman from Yes plays keyboards on two of the cuts.

"The Ozzman Cometh" is vintage Ozzy and, at the rate he's going, it's almost time to release "The Ozzman Cometh 2!"

For more information, check out http://www.ozzy.com, http://www.ozzynet.com and http://www.epicrecords.com

"Ozzmosis" (Epic; 1995)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Ozzy Osbourne has a talent for attracting incredible guitar players into his fold. When the writing for "Ozzmosis" began, Ozzy started working with guitar legend Steve Vai. Unfortunately, the project was scrapped and only one song ("My Little Man") wound up on the final recording. Guitarist Zakk Wylde was brought back in to feed the new project and, even though there are loops on guitar parts and some thin areas, this record still rocks. It helps that Ozzy is working again here with former Black Sabbath mate Geezer Butler.

Ozzy put out five CDs in the 80s, but only two in the 90s. “Ozzmosis” was four years after “No More Tears” and fans would have to unknowingly wait six more years until “Down To Earth” came out. This might be considered the lost album in more ways than one. The song “Perry Mason” starts this disc off in true Ozzy fashion. It’s loud and raunchy but things seem to mellow out for a few songs. “Thunder Underground” will awaken your stupor though.

I’ll admit that this isn’t my favorite Ozzy record but when it came out I still played it like it was going to be his last. If you haven’t listened to it in a while just cue up, “Perry Mason,” “Thunder Underground,” “Tomorrow,” “My Little Man,” and “Mr. Jekyll Doesn’t Hide.” You’ll get your fill and then you can tuck it away again.

Performing on "Ozzmosis" were Ozzy, Zakk, Dean Castronovo and Geezer Butler.

For more information, check out http://www.ozzy.com, http://www.ozzynet.com.

"The Ultimate Sin" (Epic; 1986)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Even though Ozzy Osbourne's 1986 release "The Ultimate Sin," produced only one bona fide hit ("Shot In The Dark"), I think this is one of his best early solo releases. The musical composition and presentation is close to flawless. 

"The Ultimate Sin" epitomizes what rock'n'roll is all about: loud, guitar-heavy music, catchy lyrics and - on the cover - a chick with a fine body, a dragon with Ozzy's face and a nuclear bomb exploding in the background. How fucking cool that that, really! 

Some say that "The Ultimate Sin" was over-produced. What the hell does that mean, exactly? As far as I'm concerned, heavy metal doesn't get any clearer or cleaner than "The Ultimate Sin." 

Performing on "The Ultimate Sin" are: Ozzy - vocals; Jake E. Lee - guitars; Phil Sourssan - bass; Randy Castillo - drums. 

For more information, check out http://www.ozzy.com, http://www.ozzynet.com.

"Bark At the Moon" (Epic; 1983)

Reviewed by Snidermann

In 1983, Ozzy Osbourne released his third solo album, "Bark At The Moon" and it was just what you would think an Ozzy release to sound like. Despite the fact that it was Ozzy's first record since the tragic death of Randy Rhoads, "Bark at the Moon" was hard driving rock'n'roll that showcased the unique vocal style and stage persona of one John Ozzy Osbourne.

Some pretty awesome musicians served in the band that recorded this record, including Jake E. Lee, who puts on a stunning display of guitar work throughout. Many consider this some of Ozzy's best work and it includes some unique turns with light rock songs and gentle ballads. Everything works great.

This CD and two others were my Father's Day gift from my kids. Hey, nothing says "I Love You, Dad," like Ozzy music.

Performing on "Bark at the Moon" are: Ozzy Osbourne - vocals; Tommy Aldrige - drums; Don Airey - keyboards; Bob Daisley - bass; Jake E. Lee - guitar. 

For more information, check out http://www.ozzy.com, http://www.ozzynet.com.

"Speak of the Devil" (Epic; 1982)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

What makes "Speak of the Devil" so special is that it's live recordings of Ozzy doing nothing but Black Sabbath songs. All the classics are here, from "Symptom of the Universe" to "War Pigs" to "Iron Man" to "Sweet Leaf" to "Paranoid" to "Never Say Die" and on and on. It's over 70 minutes of great Sabbath tunes and they all sound great.

Ozzy is at the top of his game here. His vocals, for the most part, are dead on and fit the songs perfectly (they were, after all, written with Ozzy as lead vocalist) and his onstage charisma virtually bursts out of your CD players' speakers. The band is awesome, too, performing legendary songs with a tight respect that gives the vast majority of them a new and dynamic edge. Brad Gillis provides each track with a vibrant guitar edge that gives it new life while Rudi Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge give those same tracks a huge new power. This is nothing short of a superstar band.

Ozzy has released a lot of live CDs (so has Black Sabbath, for that matter) but this one may still be his best. The production is sharp and clean, the performances are nearly perfect and the set list ... well, the set list can't be matched. True, you have to look elsewhere for live performances of Ozzy's solo catalog but that's a small price to pay in exchange for the great music here.

For more information, check out http://www.ozzy.com, http://www.ozzynet.com.

"Diary of a Madman" (Epic; 1981)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Ozzy may have had his ups and he may have had his downs but, overall, his entire body of work has been nothing short of amazing.

His second album after leaving Black Sabbath, 1981's "Diary Of A Madman" is no exception. The music is pure Ozzy: simple, straight to the point, with solid utterly unique vocals, dark and slightly twisted lyrics. Any trepidation that Ozzy's solo career wouldn't hold up after 'Blizzard of Ozz" were quickly put to rest with this release.

The band shared production credits here and that sense of teamwork shows. Songs like "Over The Mountain" and "Flying High Again" are two Ozzy standards that sprang from this CD and they still sound pretty damn good today.

I've been an Ozzy fan for many a year and, as much as I detest MTV, I'd like to thank them for their hit TV show, "The Osbournes." Now, yet another generation can discover the Ozzy's version of entertainment the way I did ... and still do.

Performing on "Diary of  Madman" are: Ozzy Osbourne - vocals; Randy Rhoads - guitar; Robert Daisley - bass; Lee Kerslake - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.ozzy.com, http://www.ozzynet.com.

"Blizzard of Ozz" (Epic; 1981)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Ozzy had just split with Black Sabbath, his bread and butter up to that point, no doubt. But what came out of Ozzy's departure was one of the best debut metal releases, bar none. Randy Rhoads -- who caused everyone to learn his classical metal riff from “Crazy Train” -- was arguably the most talented guitar player of his time. When you put those two together you had magic, and that has never been repeated.

The album cover caused another uproar that Ozzy was used to, when parents flipped out because they were told that heavy metal music was from the devil, remember that? Ozzy just smiled his accomplished grin and rocked on. Because this album didn’t sound like Black Sabbath, thanks to the musical direction of Randy Rhoads, most fans had to embrace both group and solo efforts from Ozzy. After everyone heard Randy soloing all over the neck of his Flying V guitar it was all over for anyone to ever step up and rival his passion.

Ozzy and Randy brought a musical reaction that was felt throughout the musical community; sadly only two studio albums captured Randy’s intense playing. Because this album was the first to feature Ozzy going solo and Randy ripping out the solos, I gave "Blizzard of Ozz" four guitarsaws. Most of the songs here are still played on the radio and “Crazy Train” still sounds fresh after all these years. Some almost forgotten tracks close out this disc: “Steal Away (The Night)” has some incredible guitar work; I forgot about this song and I was blown away like I had just heard it back in 1981. The re-release of this disc also features a bonus track: "You Lookin’ At Me Lookin’ At You." If you haven’t heard this blistering metal beast, download it today!

The best cuts are “I Don’t Know,” “Crazy Train,” “Suicide Solution,” “Mr. Crowley,” and “No Bone Movies.”

The band: Ozzy Osbourne – lead vocals/harmony vocals; Randy Rhoads – all guitars; Robert Trujillo – bass guitar; Mike Bordin – drums/percussion/timpani drums/gongs.

For more information, check out http://www.ozzy.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

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Revised: 16 Oct 2016 14:38:38 -0400 .