Friday Full-Length: Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman (1981)

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But the original¬†Diary of a Madman¬†remains a special beast. Released in Nov. 1981, it is an album I associate with the end of summer and the coming of Fall — something about the crispness of its production. Its title-track gives it a somewhat darker atmosphere, building on the inclusion of classical acoustic guitar of “Revelation: Mother Earth” from the album prior, but the rockers-up-front momentum established with “Over the Mountain” and “Flying High Again” is quintessential¬†Ozzy and arguably the best one-two punch he’d offer in his now-40-year-long solo career.

That’s not to take away from “I Don’t Know” and “Crazy Train” at the outset of Blizzard of Ozz — I’d never recommend consuming one album and totally ignoring the other; they’re both pivotal documents of heavy metal, in the ’80s and more generally — but the purpose is so clear on¬†Diary of a Madman, the engagement with the audience so direct, and where¬†Blizzard was casting an identity for who¬†Ozzy Osbourne would be as a frontman after being unceremoniously dismissedozzy osbourne diary of a madman from¬†Black Sabbath¬†following 1978’s¬†Never Say Die!, the shift from 1980 and 1981, the time on tour, meant that identity was set and¬†Diary of a Madman could be approached with confidence, with character and with a feel that would continue to define¬†Osbourne‘s work on various levels throughout the rest of his career to-date.

It is unmistakably a classic.

And maybe for that reason, and the fact that I have a strong personal association with these songs — I remember riding around with older friends before I had a drivers license of my own, absolutely blasting the album, 20-odd years ago — it’s harder to think objectively or write about, but that’s always been part of the appeal of Ozzy‘s solo work as well. He’s never been a critical success in the moment. It’s been through hindsight and audience response/loyalty that he and his band have most made their mark over time.

To an extent, one might say the same of¬†Black Sabbath, though I’d put that group’s influence in a greater echelon at this point — notably, one might not have said the same thing before Osbourne reunited with¬†Sabbath in 1997 and thereby introduced an entirely new generation (mine, for what it’s worth) to the experience of that band on stage. Even¬†Osbourne‘s 2020 studio album,¬†Ordinary Man¬†(review here), which is his first in a decade, featured a host of guests, ace, energetic songwriting, and was came along with the news of a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease on the part of the metallic godfather himself was greeted with a collective critical shrug. So it goes, and while I doubt¬†Ordinary Man¬†will have the lasting impact of¬†Diary of a Madman or other early¬†Ozzy LPs — because how many times can you really ask lightning to strike? — the point stands.

Dig further into¬†Diary of a Madman¬†and you’ll find more atmosphere and little dip in quality from its outset. “‘You Can’t Kill Rock ‘n’ Roll,” at six and a half minutes, is a glorious showcase for¬†Rhoads and what seems to be an attempt to¬†out-Rainbow Rainbow¬†— keyboardist¬†Don Airey played in both groups,¬†Johnny Cook played on this album because¬†Airey was on tour — and feels absolutely written for the stage, while “Believer” and “Little Dolls” offer sneaky hooks and more further air-tight performances by the trio being Osbourne himself. Tucked away neatly on side B, “Tonight” flirts effectively with more commercial fare, and it’s contrasted by the album’s hidden gem in the more chaotic “S.A.T.O.,” on which¬†Kerslake shines in manic fashion,¬†Rhoads indulges a bit of noise,¬†Daisley holds it all together and¬†Osbourne¬†still manages to sneak in a chorus.

Somewhat overshadowed by the closing title-track that follows, “S.A.T.O.” carries a proto-thrash spirit and is about as dirty as¬†Diary of a Madman¬†gets, the usual poised stateliness of Rhoads‘ playing — recall that at this point, heavy metal was largely questing for legitimacy as a genre — let loose a bit over the charging progression of the central groove. Slower, and with a more dramatic, narrative spirit — the string and choral arrangements help — “Diary of a Madman” rounds out with a willful delve into grandiosity that the rest of the album has largely avoided and works all the more for that. It is distinct among¬†Osbourne‘s output before or since, and I’ll gladly place it among the most important heavy metal songs ever written.

At this point,¬†Diary of a Madman and the era of¬†Ozzy Osbourne‘s career it represents have a legacy all their own, apart from what came before or after. Maybe you have your own memories tied to it, or maybe not. Either way, the accomplishments of craft and performance it carries remain vital. To call it a landmark doesn’t suffice, but it is that anyhow.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Rainy Friday morning. Blah. Maybe I’ll get to run later. It’s been a while since I did so during daylight hours, might be interesting. Might not. I should’ve gone yesterday AM but wanted to finish writing and was beat besides.

Up and down week. Yesterday was brutal, and I’m not just talking about how metal the Enslaved stream was. The morning went relatively quick, but I’d swear the seven hours between 11AM-6PM were some of the longest I’ve ever had. Dead on my feet. Just totally dead. And I made the mistake of letting The Pecan stay downstairs and hang out rather than go up for nap since I knew he’d just run in his closet and poop and need to be changed then not sleep anyway. No right answer there, it seems.

And the rest of the week before that? I don’t know. Busy, maybe? Grocery shopping? Being worried about the election? Looking at construction equipment with The Pecan? I know I ate too much nut butter (made a hazelnut/salted macadamia combo that was facemeltingly good) and felt bad about that, if that helps. And I wanted to cook chicken and make pesto all week and didn’t have the energy to do it. So there’s life as it is, I guess. Today’s my day. Spaghetti squash awaits. Tanner Olson from Across Tundras was kind enough to send me some garlic from his farm in Nebraska and I intend to put it to use.

His new album is out today. It’s Bandcamp Friday. I posted a few links to stuff on Thee Facebooks, but if you didn’t see, it was Kind, White Canyon & the 5th Dimension, REZN, Revvnant and Change√∂rder. Support.

New Gimme show at 5pm today.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. I have no idea how I’ll get through it but what else is new.

Alright, that’s enough for me. Be safe, hydrate. Have fun. All that.

FRM.

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Album Review: Ozzy Osbourne, Ordinary Man

Posted in Reviews on March 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

ozzy-osbourne-ordinary-man

It’s a digital reboot in the truest sense and right down to the Ozzy Osbourne¬†logo and the font of the¬†Ordinary Man album title under the picture of the man himself, mouth open as if there’s a sign next to his face saying “insert bat here” with an arrow pointing to his mouth, the black eyeliner, and shiny jacket, fog, the whole bit. It’s like the new¬†Star Wars¬†movies, or any number of other things made and remade. Take the essential and most familiar elements of a beloved intellectual property and give them a refreshed look and feel. In the case of¬†Ordinary Man, that means bringing in a star-studded cast featuring the likes guitar prodigy and producer Andrew Watt, a rhythms section of¬†Duff McKagan and¬†Chad Smith, and high-profile guest-star cameos from Elton John,¬†Slash,¬†Tom Morello, and — giving any number of weird uncles something to talk about with their pop-loving younger relatives —¬†Post Malone and¬†Travis Scott, and essentially building a modern-sounding¬†Ozzy¬†record.

The songs — there are 11 of them, or 10 and a bonus track as it’s presented on the CD, which, yes, I bought — must be and are unfuckwithably tight. The guitar work must be and is top notch in the spirit of¬†Ozzy‘s past work alongside heroes like¬†Randy Rhoads,¬†Jake E. Lee and¬†Zakk Wylde. There must be and is a balance of bruisers and ballads, a couple of¬†Beatles references in the¬†George Martin-esque strings capping the title-track and the¬†McCartney-style keyboard/piano bounce and backing vocals in the build of the somewhat overblown “Holy for Tonight,” which moves into a more modern pop-sounding progression before rounding out and giving way to the needless but speedy “It’s a Raid” and the hip-hop infused bonus track “Take What You Want,” both collaborations with¬†Post Malone that are hardly¬†Osbourne‘s first time delving into hip-hop. One recalls a collaboration with¬†DMX¬†and¬†Ol’ Dirty Bastard¬†on a¬†South Park compilation CD in the late ’90s. These things are all cyclical.

And like a lot of digital reboots, there’s much about¬†Ordinary Man that is inarguable. While¬†Ozzy himself, as a persona, is well past being the coked-up madman of his earliest post-Black Sabbath days — lest we forget that his classic solo debut,¬†Blizzard of Ozz, turns 40 later this year — and he’s mostly shed the “prince of darkness” image (this cover art notwithstanding), he remains inarguably and grandly charismatic. There are moments throughout¬†Ordinary Man where he feels almost superfluous. Songs like “Under the Graveyard” or “Today is the End” carry an unmistakable mark of his work and style, and yet one almost has to search to hear¬†Ozzy himself — his actual voice — within the shroud of the massive amount of production surrounding. Yet these tracks are, again, unfuckwithably tight and they and others surrounding them are likewise-proportionate in their catchiness. Meticulously, impeccably constructed, from the opening “Straight to Hell” onward, they very purposefully cast forth an Ozzy¬†record for “today’s world.”

ozzy osbourne

If you’re of a certain age, you might remember the 1990s marketing obsession with things being “x-treme.” From fast cars to kids’ yogurt, everything had to fuel an “x-treme” lifestyle, even as the entirety of Generation X was accused by their Baby Boomer elders of being slackers — great times, and familiar in many ways. As we enter a new decade and the 2020s remain as yet undefined,¬†Ordinary Man nonetheless carries with it the hallmarks of 2010s popular culture, even down to the simple fact of its existence. It is a thing that has been essentially made before being remade in a polished, lens-flare-laced and palatable way for a different generational audience. Its tracks are frontloaded in terms of putting the best material first thinking that the listenership won’t last the entire 49-minute stretch — which many won’t — and it is built around several key singles and “focus tracks” that serve a basic and relatable theme.

Perhaps most in the spirit of the modern reboot,¬†Ordinary Man tells a story, and “storytelling,” from a marketing standpoint, is essential. In songs like “Straight to Hell,” “All My Life,” “Goodbye,” “Ordinary Man” — the new video for which seems to be¬†Ozzy actually watching a movie of his life; indeed much of the album seems to be selling a screenplay for a heavy metal biopic that, almost sadly, will probably be pretty good despite igniting a fire of internet complaints when¬†Geezer Butler is never mentioned — as well as “Under the Graveyard,” “Today is the End” and even “Holy for Tonight,” there is an ongoing frame of examining mortality across the proceedings.¬†Osbourne, whose diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease was recently unveiled on¬†Good Morning America, has canceled tours owing to health problems and injuries, and has amassed a hard-lived 71 years, and is well within his rights to say something like, “Don’t know why I’m still alive” on the title cut. Some cucumbers are just better pickled, I guess.

But all of these elements — the songwriting, the soaring guitar solos from¬†Watt, who comes across as no less a shredder than any of the esteemed shoes he might be filling in that role, the digitized, pitch-corrected ‘layers of Ozz,’ the dopey but fun “Scary Little Green Men” and the who-actually-let-him-use-the-word-“defecate”-in-these-lyrics of the opening track — all combine to make a record that is undeniably¬†Ozzy Osbourne circa 2020.¬†Will¬†Ordinary Man be the work for which¬†Ozzy is remembered after he’s gone? Not a chance; his legacy was set decades ago. But it is probably the most relevant work he’s done since 1995’s Ozzmosis, even though the last 25 years accounts for three studio albums — 2001’s Down to Earth, 2007’s¬†Black Rain and 2010’s¬†Scream¬†— and the 2005¬†Under Cover covers collection, and if it is to be his final outing, then the energy brought to it by¬†Watt and¬†McKagan and¬†Smith, as well as a number of keyboardists and the other players involved, has not been misused, and doing some of your best work in a quarter-century isn’t a bad way to go out.

Will “the kids” dig it? More likely they’ll just wonder who that old guy is on stage next to¬†Post Malone shouting at them to “go fucking crazy” (yes, even that catchphrase makes it onto the record), but whatever. A few resonant hooks, a lot of familiar pieces put together in familiar ways, and¬†Ozzy himself at the center of it. It’s got enough of everything to make for a successful franchise reboot. The only question that remains, then, is what’s to be done about a sequel.

Ozzy Osbourne, “Straight to Hell” official video

Ozzy Osbourne on Thee Facebooks

Ozzy Osbourne on Instagram

Ozzy Osbourne website

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Ozzy Osbourne Sets Feb. 21 Release for Ordinary Man; Preorders up Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

I’ll admit I’m somewhat back and forth on the prospect of the new Ozzy record. Of course, it’s the first one in a decade, so that in itself is an event considering he is who is he is. There have been a few songs put out, and I haven’t listened to the title-track of Ordinary Man yet — I’ll get there — but both “Straight to Hell” and “Under the Graveyard” are maddeningly catchy. If it’s the best Ozzy Osbourne since Ozzmosis — which seems like a realistic best-case-scenario, as his earliest solo work is just never going to be topped and I think we all know it — well, that was 25 years ago, so that’s not nothing, right?

At the same time, the use of “defecate” in “Straight to Hell” is laughable and the video for “Under the Graveyard” looks like a treatment for one of the new generation of bio pics √† la James Brown, Freddie Mercury and Elton John — can David Bowie be far behind? — so it’s not like either one comes without its hitch. Still, L.A.-type guitar prodigy/producer Andrew Watt seems to have done a good job reinvigorating¬†Ozzy‘s signature style, which was nothing if not ripe for a reboot. I’d go see the tour if I was cool enough to get a photo pass, which I don’t think I am. So it goes.

Anywho,¬†Ordinary Man is out Feb. 21 on¬†Epic and preoders are up. Here’s some info and the songs that are currently available from it:

ozzy osbourne ordinary man

OZZY OSBOURNE’S ‘ORDINARY MAN’ SET FOR FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21 RELEASE ON EPIC RECORDS

ALBUM WAS RECORDED IN LOS ANGELES WITH ANDREW WATT, DUFF MCKAGAN AND CHAD SMITH

SPECIAL GUESTS INCLUDE ELTON JOHN, POST MALONE, SLASH AND TOM MORELLO

ORDINARY MAN AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2020

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy¬ģ-winning singer and songwriter OZZY OSBOURNE has set Friday, February 21 as the release date for his new ORDINARY MAN album. Marking his first new solo music in almost 10 years, the album has been preceded by the release of two singles, the title #1 rock track “Under The Graveyard,” which was followed by “Straight To Hell” featuring Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. The album’s track will be available instantly with any pre-order of the album. Pre-order the album here: https://ozzy.lnk.to/OrdinaryMan

ORDINARY MAN will be available as a standard CD, deluxe CD, black vinyl, deluxe gatefold swirl color vinyl, picture disc and digital album. In addition, all physical copies of the album will include a unique code that will allow the purchaser to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of over 300 OZZY prizes (including an official OZZY laminate to get into any show on the 2020 “NO MORE TOURS 2,” meet and greets with OZZY, a gift certificate to the OZZY global store and much more!) All details on the sweepstakes can be found at www.ozzy.com.

“It was a lot of fun to do though it’s a lot different from my other albums,” OZZY says of the album. “We recorded it quickly, which I haven’t done since the first Black Sabbath album. This made it a different process, which I actually enjoyed.”

Recorded in Los Angeles, the album features producer Andrew Watt on guitars, Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses) on bass and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on drums. Beyond the core band, ORDINARY MAN, features a who’s-who of OZZY friends and collaborators including Elton John, Post Malone, and Tom Morello.

“It all just came together,” OZZY explains of the guest stars. “Slash is a dear friend of mine, as is Elton. When I was writing ‘Ordinary Man,’ it reminded me of an old Elton song and I said to Sharon, ‘I wonder if he would sing on it?’ We asked and lo and behold, he agreed and sings and play piano on the song.”

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Ozzy Osbourne, “Ordinary Man”

Ozzy Osbourne, “Straight to Hell” official video

Ozzy Osbourne, “Under the Graveyard” official video

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Can We Talk About Ozzy Osbourne for a Minute?

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on August 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

ozzy osbourne

Yeah, I know. In the realm of heavy, there have been few topics as thoroughly discussed as just what to do with the legacy of Ozzy Osbourne. The founding and on-again-off-again frontman of Black Sabbath, solo bandleader and unparalleled metallic figurehead has had a half-century-long career with more than several lifetimes’ worth of ups and downs, highs and lows, and hyperbole-worthy triumphs and failures. Among living metal singers, he stands alone in needing only his name to conjure strong feelings on either side: Ozzy.

If you’re reading this, chances are I don’t need to lay out for you the ongoing influence of Osbourne’s work with Black Sabbath, whose first six albums played an essential role in forming the gospel on which heavy metal dogma was shaped. Likewise, Osbourne’s “solo” career, his bringing to light and fostering the playing and songwriting of guitarists like Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde, has possibly been just as — if not more — influential. Artistically and commercially, the man is a giant in a way that no one else in heavy metal is.

My question is, how should we feel about Ozzy in 2017? Is it okay to love Ozzy again?

I remember going to see Ozzy in high school. I did the Ozzfest thing in the mid and late ’90s. Ozzy had his Prince of Darkness days, had put out the relatively strong¬†Ozzmosis in 1995 and¬†No More Tears in 1991, and yeah, neither of those records would have the impact of 1980’s¬†Blizzard of Ozz, ’81’s¬†Diary of a Madman or ’83’s¬†Bark at the Moon — even 1986’s¬†The Ultimate Sin and 1988’s¬†No Rest for the Wicked had their moments (I don’t care what you say, “Crazy Babies” rules) —¬†but for a guy who’d said he was retiring, there was still plenty of energy left in his work. He had more in the tank. And that showed live as well.

Was there ever a more charismatic metal frontman? Robert Plant — a peer — was always too pretty. Ian Gillan too poised. Lemmy was rawer and less directly engaged with the audience. Halford, Dickinson and Dio were always far better singers, but in his stage presence, Ozzy could have an entire arena on his side by doing little more than showing up and saying hi. He still can. He’s screwed up lyrics onstage for as long as he’s been playing songs. He’s become less and less able to carry a tune. It’s arguable he hasn’t had a decent record out under his own name this century, but as much as one can level cash-grab accusations his way at nearly every turn, isn’t there something appealing about the fact that Osbourne just can’t bring himself to quit? Can’t leave the stage behind? Can’t stop that direct link to his fans? And so long as people keep buying tickets, should he really be expected to?

When MTV began airing¬†The Osbournes 15 years ago, it was impossible to know the damage it would do to Ozzy’s reputation, but real quick, he went from the Prince of Darkness, the guy who gave us “Suicide Solution” and “Over the Mountain,” to an utter buffoon. In some ways, he’s never recovered from that cringe-inducing scene of him shaking, lost in his own garden, calling for his then-wife and manager, Sharon. The show, which was hammered into the ground and dead-horse-beaten across increasingly painful seasons, was only one of many questionable business decisions throughout the years.

Do we even need to talk about replacing Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake’s tracks on album reissues? The list goes on. Ozzfest by then was on the wane. Sabbath’s late-’90s reunion had produced one mediocre single, some righteous touring, and then fizzled once again, and neither the 2005 covers collection Under Cover nor 2007’s¬†Black Rain full-length did much to dissuade anyone from feeling like a slide into uninspired mediocrity was complete. What the hell had happened?

Was it decades of drug and alcohol use catching up? Had Ozzy simply lost it? As Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler reunited with Ronnie James Dio in Heaven and Hell, Osbourne seemed left in the dust, and his 2010 album,¬†Scream — his most recent studio effort — was forgettable at best.

Hopes were high when it was announced Osbourne would reunite with Black Sabbath and that the band would set to work with producer Rick Rubin on what became 2013’s¬†13 (review here). The results were debatable, and debated, issues of integrity not at all helped by a lengthy, ugly and public contract dispute with original drummer Bill Ward. But even as Iommi was ailed with a cancer fight, touring ensued. Once again, Sabbath was bringing their show (review here) to the people. Landmark songs, some new stuff in the mix, and though he was off-key as ever, Ozzy’s charisma was still there, still intact.

Let me put it this way: We’re now a decade and a half removed from¬†The Osbournes, and whatever else Ozzy has done, he’s really never stopped touring. It’s not like he needs the money, so isn’t it just possible he’s doing it because he loves it? He turns 69 in December. On the basic level of physical exhaustion, it can’t be a pleasant experience for him to be onstage for an hour-plus at this point, even with nights off between shows on tour. His well-documented history of substance abuse notwithstanding, he’s held it together better than some, and while the shape of the brand has changed, he’s still overseeing and headlining an Ozzfest Meets Knotfest this Fall in San Bernadino, California. The leadoff single from¬†Black Rain was “I Don’t Wanna Stop.” Isn’t it possible that’s the truth?

I don’t know Ozzy and in my time have gotten to ask him precisely one question in an interview, so I can’t speak to his motivations, but whatever his ultimate reasoning is, I think it’s worth stopping for a minute and realizing how special his career has been, how pivotal his contributions to heavy music have been, and how much of his life he’s dedicated to bringing joy to his audience. Yeah, he’s made a pretty penny doing it, and done as much to tarnish his persona as to hone it over the years, but whether it’s through the sheer longevity of his relevance, the classic nature and ongoing influence of his work with Sabbath and the early incarnations of the Ozzy Osbourne band, or the smile on his face when he steps out in front of a crowd, it still seems to me that there’s plenty to appreciate about Ozzy in 2017.

That’s worth considering as well as all the rest when we think about the man, his music and the impact both have had on our lives.

Ozzy Osbourne website

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Black Sabbath, Paris 1970

Black Sabbath, California Jam 1974

Ozzy Osbourne, “Mr. Crowley” live in 1981

Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Babies” official video

Ozzy Osbourne, Live in Minnesota, Aug. 2017

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Sometimes You Just Gotta Go to the Record Show

Posted in Buried Treasure on October 15th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

It had been a while since I’d been to the Second Saturday Record Show in flood-prone Wayne, NJ. In fact, relatively speaking, my load of CD acquisitions has been light of late, a combination of pricing myself out of the market, saving cash to move, being annoyed at digital promos, etc. But Saturday was the record show and I happened to be in the state, so I wasn’t going to miss it.

The Wayne Firehouse, which is where the show has been held since before time began, was as packed as I’ve ever seen it, and with more vinyl. Believe the hype, I guess. People were pushing through the aisles at crowded tables, and even though I was working under my self-imposed limit to CDs and tapes, I wavered when I happened upon an original LP of the first Goatsnake record. I didn’t buy it, because it was $75, but I came close.

Treasures persisted though. Here’s a quick rundown.

Among the CDs, the self-titled Electric Wizard was the highlight, no doubt about. Original jewel case issue on Rise Above. I’d only had the reissue before that paired it with Come My Fanatics and the digipak that came out even later, so to get the first version was a treat. Of course the album rules, but I already knew that going into it.

Tapes were three for two bucks at one seller’s table, so I grabbed the Dio, Sacred Heart, and Black Sabbath, Mob Rules and Born Again tapes from him, as well as the three-tape set of Carl Reiner and Mel BrooksThe 2,000 Year Old Man, which is a classic. The Ozzy tape came from his as well, which threw off the three-for-two thing, but it was worth the extra 50 cents anyway. I think actually I only wound up paying $2.50 anyhow. Fucking awesome.

The Hendrix tape in the top right corner I bought off a different dude for a buck. It’s a dub of “Top Gear”/BBC stuff (click here to pop up the full tracklist), and yeah, it’s probably all been officially released at this point, but it fucking rules anyway, front to back. 1967. Gorgeous.

The 1996 debut by Canada’s Sheavy was in the same bin as the Electric Wizard (and some Death SS, which I picked up as well), but might have been an even bigger surprise, if only because it was so random. I’ve never been really hooked by the band — though they do take Sabbath worship to a different level entirely and there’s something inherently admirable in that — but the record’s cool and it’s got a handmade-looking foldout included detailing the bonus tracks and even a little pyramid-shaped piece of paper that seems to be a kind of mail-order catalog:

And here’s the foldout, when folded out:

Pretty cool that that stuff would be with the album after all these years, and in impeccable shape at that. The CD was obviously well loved, kept out of sunlight, and so on. Hard not to appreciate stumbling on something like that, no matter how attached to Sheavy‘s work I may or may not be.

One of my main reasons for going in the first place, however, was the hope of picking up a turntable on the cheap. I’ve invested about as much time and effort into trying to repair the one at my office as I care to, and it’s time to move on. They didn’t have any at the record show, which was a bummer, but en route to other errands, The Patient Mrs. found a $40 Best Buy gift card that’s apparently been in my wallet since 2009. Could only be providence, right?

We shot over to the local big-box — a desert of outdated technologies (which actually gave it a certain charm in my eyes) — and grabbed the floor model of one of those “put your LPs on your iPod” turntables for what turned out to be $24 after the gift card was applied. Brought it to the office this morning, and of course it didn’t work. Now I’m 0-2 and I’ve got two busted record players one on top of the other on top of my office shelf unit, which I think makes me some kind of warped reality redneck.

Some you win, some you lose. I’ll try to return it and see if I can give it another go, and I’ve got plenty to keep me busy in the meantime. If nothing else, the growling and howling in “Hound Dog” on that Hendrix tape has the little dog Dio eyeballing the speaker curiously, and that’s bound to be hours of entertainment. Rock and roll.

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Five Things They Left Out of God Bless Ozzy Osbourne

Posted in Reviews on August 25th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Last night, The Patient Mrs. and I went to see the new documentary God Bless Ozzy Osbourne at its New Jersey “special premiere event.” I had posted the press release on the news forum last week, but the short version is the movie was produced by Jack Osbourne, directed by Mike Fleiss and Mike Piscitelli, and promised “the most honest portrait” of his father (Ozzy, duh) through his years with Black Sabbath and as a mind-blowingly successful solo artist.

Now obviously, to tell the whole story would require a 17-hour Ken Burns special and then some — as Ozzy has simply led that much life — but though God Bless Ozzy Osbourne started out promising by charting his childhood and Black Sabbath‘s formation and first several records, the movie soon took a turn and abandoned that method of storytelling, jumping directly from a scene of current Ozzy watching and being disgusted by the video for “The Ultimate Sin” to the first season of the MTV reality show The Osbournes, which came some 16 years later, and shifting the focus from his sundry triumphs and inebriated antics to his getting clean and, as Sharon Osbourne put it in one of her many dime-store-therapist-lingo interview segments, “growing up.”

That’s fine. I went into God Bless Ozzy Osbourne thinking it was probably going to be a one-sided take on the man’s life, perhaps some effort to restore the dignity that the last decade has stripped him of (The Osbournes playing no small part in that, but by no means being the only misstep), and that’s precisely what it was. The fact is that he’s an entertaining interview — I’ve never been so fortunate myself — and that alone is worth watching. Tony Iommi appeared three or four times, and since the movie-current live footage sprinkled throughout had Zakk Wylde on guitar, I’m guessing it was from 2008-2009, right around the time Iommi and Osbourne were embroiled in that lawsuit over the rights to the name Black Sabbath. I guess they were lucky to get him at all, if that’s the case.

But even so, the “most honest portrait” it wasn’t. Scenes of Ozzy‘s kids from his first and second marriage saying he was a shitty father popped up and were gone with little examination or criticism, flashing back and forth to a current interview thread of Ozzy talking about it, and he still couldn’t remember what year his first daughter was born. In addition, in talking about his relationship with Sharon, they laid out the timing that it began roughly two years before he divorced his first wife, but never mentioned it as an affair, the two of them laughing instead that they were either in bed, on the bus, or on stage at that point in their lives. Har har. And when talking about their marriage, Ozzy says he wanted to start a family and that’s why he married Sharon, completely neglecting to mention his two prior children, who just a few minutes ago, were remembered as begging him not to leave them.

So really, it’s got its issues. Leaving the theater, I couldn’t help but wonder about the footage they left out. They didn’t even interview Zakk Wylde! Robert Trujillo, who played bass with Ozzy‘s band for a while, is never mentioned as having done so, instead showing up as a representative of Metallica — which is laughable — and since you apparently can’t say anything about Black Sabbath these days without Henry Rollins showing up, he was there. Tommy Lee told a few choice stories of touring with Ozzy in 1985, and Rudy Sarzo gave a heartfelt reminisce of the day Randy Rhoads died, but there was a lot they left out, both positive and negative. Here are the five things that most stuck out to me:

1. Master of Reality
After recounting the first two Sabbath albums, they mentioned 1971’s Master of Reality, showed the cover, and then brushed it aside to talk about Vol. 4. Not for nothing, but Master of Reality has been scientifically proven to be the greatest album of all time. They’ve done tests. In labs. Nothing is better. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, because Technical Ecstasy didn’t get mentioned at all. Seriously. Like it didn’t exist. No love for “Rock & Roll Doctor.”

2. Ozzfest
This was a real surprise, especially with the time spent giving the highlights of Ozzy‘s career. The festival of which he was the namesake? Nothing about it ever appeared in the movie.

3. Jake E. Lee
Nope. The guy basically saved Ozzy‘s post-Randy Rhoads career. And nothing.

4. The second, third and fourth seasons of The Osbournes
You’d imagine in watching God Bless Ozzy Osbourne that someone tricked the family into filming their lives for MTV. I think it’s Kelly at one point (might be Jack) who says something about people thinking it was funny, but it was really watching their family fall apart because of her father’s drinking and drug use. Meanwhile, they raked in shitloads of cash on that and kept it going for three years! If it’s that awful, even if you’re contractually obligated, pull out and take the lawsuit. Aimee Osbourne continues to look like a young woman who has her shit together.

5. Any music after 1986.
No No More Tears, no Ozzmosis. In the live footage, Ozzy sings some of “No More Tears,” but no studio album after Bark at the Moon is discussed in detail, and neither is the reunion with Black Sabbath in 1997, the retirement tour, or even the names of the people in the current (as of the movie) band. Mike Bordin is shown playing drums a few times, and Wylde makes regular appearances on stage, but it looks like the camera is actively trying to avoid Rob “Blasko” Nicholson.

I’m glad Ozzy Osbourne is sober. In God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, toward the end of the film, he is shown driving, talking about getting his driver’s license and wanting to have his shit together, feeling like he loves himself for the first time in his life. He speaks clearly and stands up straight and looks nothing like the bumbling man in the garden yelling, “Sharon!” This is all wonderful. I mean it. I also think that part of having that ability to truly be comfortable with who you are means accepting your failures as well as your successes. You could easily say he didn’t make the film, and he didn’t — Sharon is listed as executive producer and Jack is given the aforementioned producer credit — but there’s no question it’s a favorable take rather than a genuine examination of his career and life.

It’s one side of a story to which there are probably 50 other sides, and I’m sure you could make a 90-minute documentary about the first Sabbath album and it would seem too short, but if the project is too much to chew, then what’s accomplished by putting it out there anyway is a few entertaining stories, choice interviews, some live footage (the 1974 California Jam is always welcome), and nothing approaching the raw analysis promised. So it was.

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