Monday, March 10, 2008

Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Ozz

Ozzy week on the Shelf, people. Know why? 'Cause OZZY ROOLZ, that's why.

I wrote a pretty extensive career overview of the man a couple years back when he put out that godawful box set. But a buddy of mine at work recently picked up his first two on CD and got me thinking about the Rhoads years. So it's really more Randy Rhoads week than Ozzy week.

Funny thing about those early Ozzy albums is they've been re-released a couple times, but the most recent ones are pretty scurrilous. See, M—'s a real audiophile, and a CD devotee to boot, so he's always into the latest remastering jobs on all manner of classic rock reissues. The only reason I know about this reissue skullduggery is because of his research into which editions of these Ozzy albums to buy.

Turns out the last round of reissues, from the mid-90s, are the ones to have, if you're into that sort of thing. They all have the same cover layout pictured here, with the original artwork surrounded by a faux-satin patterned frame. The newest versions, from just a few years ago, restore the full-size artwork but feature re-recorded rhythm tracks. Ozzy's then-current drummer Mike Bordin (dude from Faith No More) and bassist Rob Trujillo (used to be in Suicidal Tendencies, now in Metallica, plays without a pick therefor certified badass excepting his participation in this little travesty) went into the studio and re-created the original beats and basslines. Double-you tee eff?

The completely unsubstantiated rumour I've heard is that it's the result of a royalty dispute with original band members Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake. Not only did Daisley and Kerslake play on the original album, they also received a production credit and several co-writing credits. The Osbourne camp may have retaliated against a demand for a larger share by attempting to cut them out of the spoils altogether. It's easy to blame Sharon for this sort of underhanded scheme, but really, Ozzy's gotta take responsibility for this shit.

And it's not like he's replacing inferior performances, like Zappa thought he was doing on that awful We're Only In It For the Money reissue. Check out the bassline on "Steal Away". There's stuff like that all over the original album (albeit mixed too high).

But this is about Randy Rhoads. M— says he prefers this one out of the two Randy albums because it's more about the songs. And it's true that this one's got more hits, but I think the highs are higher on the next one, mainly because it's much more of a showcase for Rhoads. "Mr. Crowley" is sort of a preview of the direction in which Rhoads would take Ozzy's music on the next album, both in the use of sythesisers and the melodic and rhythmic complexity of the composition. Which will bring us to Wednesday.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Ozzy Osbourne – "Mr. Crowley" and "Steal Away (The Night)"

NOTE: If you're looking for the CD, make sure they specify that it's the 1995 remaster; it's not the one with the bonus track.

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