Monday, September 20, 2010

Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz turns 30

Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz
Ozzy Osbourne
Blizzard of Ozz
Rating: ****

In 1979, Ozzy Osbourne was no longer a member of Black Sabbath. When he was fired from Sabbath, Osbourne had no intentions of doing something of his own. According to his autobiography, he would stay in a hotel room all day and experiment with drugs. Black Sabbath's manager, Don Arden, was a bit worried about Osbourne. However, it was Arden's daughter Sharon that got Osbourne motivated to pursue a solo career. Sharon helped Osbourne by recruiting a backing band. The band included bassist Bob Daisley, former Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake, and a young virtuoso guitarist named Randy Rhoads. Rhoads was formerly of the rock band Quiet Riot, who had split after Rhoads took the job to play for Osbourne in 1980. With this line-up, Osbourne and his new band hit the studio to record what would become his debut album.
Blizzard of Ozz kicks off like a blizzard with Rhoads' guitar blazing in the opening track "I Don't Know". The band sounds great as does Ozzy. The album's big hit has to be "Crazy Train", which probably has one of the most memorable opening guitar riffs in metal. The lyrics are brilliant as is Rhoads, who plays an incredible solo in the song. The next song "Goodbye to Romance" is very different from the last two tracks. The song is very melodic and could possible show how much of a Beatles fan Ozzy was (and still is. Osbourne is a huge Beatles fan). Ozzy's vocals sound wonderful and Rhoads, once again, shines with his brilliant guitar work. The guitar playing is pretty heavy for a song that slow. The next song, "Dee", is a sweet instrumental from Rhoads which he dedicated to his mother (who was and still is living). "Dee" is actually his mother's name or nickname. This song is followed by the heavy "Suicide Solution". The song's lyrics may suggest that suicide is good but that wasn't Osbourne's intention at all. Osbourne supposedly wrote the song as a tribute to his friend Bon Scott, lead singer of AC/DC. Scott had died earlier that year from alcohol abuse. What Osbourne and Daisly were trying to say was that alcohol was the solution. A few years later, two teenagers (in two different cases) took the song the wrong way and committed suicide. "Mr. Crowley" is a great dark track that deals with the occultist Aleister Crowley. Rhoads, once again, works his magic with the guitar. "No Bone Movies" is another odd track off the album. According to sources, the song is actually about pornographic movies. "Revelation (Mother Earth)" could be easily mistaken as a Sabbath song as it has dark imagery and lyrics. The song goes right into the final track "Steal Away (The Night)" which ends the album rocking all the way.

Blizzard of Ozz went gold quickly and put Osbourne back on the metal scene. Ozzy's band would follow up the album with 1981's Diary of a Madman. Before the album's release, Osbourne fired Daisley and Kerslake. They were replaced by bassist Rudy Sarzo (Rhoads' old Quiet Riot bandmate, who suggested Sarzo to Ozzy and Sharon) and drummer Tommy Aldridge. This line-up toured until March 19, 1982 when Rhoads was killed in a jet plane accident along with the pilot and the band's hairdresser. Still, Ozzy kept going with numerous line up changes and he also married Sharon along the way. In 1995, all of Ozzy's albums were reissued and remastered. When the albums were reissued again in 2002, fans were surprised to read in the CD booklet that the bass and drums for Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman had been re-recorded. This was because Osbourne's former bandmates Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake would not stop filing lawsuits against the Osbournes, claiming they weren't getting any royalties from those albums. According to Ozzy in his autobiography, it was Sharon's idea to have the bass and drums re-recorded by Ozzy's then-bassist and drummer Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin. Rhoads' guitar playing, luckily, was kept in the mix along with Ozzy's vocals. Still, Blizzard of Ozz is a classic heavy metal album and is important for starting the successful solo career of Ozzy Osbourne.

Note: If you want to buy Blizzard of Ozz, please don't get the copies they sell in stores or online. Get the original recording. How can you tell the difference? The 1995 reissues have on the cover a small picture of the album artwork in the center and then somewhere on the side it should be "Ozzy" in big letters. This is the one to get. This goes for Diary of a Madman as well. Both can be found on iTunes and Amazon's MP3 store as well as used CD stores. If you find a copy with red lettering on the spine of the CD case, those are okay to get. They just aren't remastered.

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