This is where he started creating some truly ambitious compositions, especially the title track. The song is built around the Wagnerian main riff and lurches through various parts with numerous time signatures. It often seems as though Ozzy is simply along for the ride; the lengthy instrumental gaps between his verses make it impossible for him to biuld any sort of momentum with the lyrics.
Sadly, what could have stood as the starting point of Rhoads's artistic peak was instead his swan song. He was killed in a plane crash shortly after the release of Diary.
But that's not even my favourite track on the album. One of the most overlooked aspects of Ozzy's music is his absolute mastery of the power ballad. He puts one on almost every album but, until the success of "Mama, I'm Comin' Home", never released them as singles and rarely played them live. I think if I listed my ten favourite Ozzy songs, at least half of them would be ballads. Maybe.
(Oh, OK, fine. Off the top of my head, in no particular order: "Crazy Train"(duh), "Flying High Again", "Tonight", "See You On the Other Side", "Miracle Man", "So Tired", "Mama", "Bark At the Moon", "Mr. Crowley"... that's four. Put "Goodbye to Romance" anywhere on there. Or "Dreamer".)
In fact, "Tonight" might be my favourite Ozzy ballad, maybe even my favourite Ozzy song, and it's not on any of his numerous double live or greatest hits packages. Why not? Listen to that chorus, people! Listen to that fade-out!
I think the ballads are so great because this form is where Ozzy's melodic sensibility as a singer works best. Just, like... wait till Friday, man. Seriously.
From my deck to you: Ozzy Osbourne –
"Tonight" and "Diary Of a Madman"
NOTE: And if you do buy it on CD, make sure you get the 1995 reissue, not the more recent one with the bonus track; see Monday's post for further details.