REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin (1986)

OZZY OSBOURNE – The Ultimate Sin (1986, 1995 Sony remaster)

I know Ozzy isn’t especially fond of this album (or anything about the whole Jake E. Lee period) but I love it.  Hell, Ozzy hasn’t even offered it in any of his reissue programs.  It’s out of print, and Ozzy never plays any of these songs anymore outside of “Shot in the Dark”.

I don’t know why I love it so much.  I get why some people aren’t fond of it.  Ron Nevison butchered the production, for one thing.  Randy Castillo was such a powerful drummer, with a recognizable style.  Here he sounds plastic with awful sounding cymbals.  It’s a shame because the drum parts themselves are great.  Ozzy acknowledges being in a real “down” state at this time, and it shows in the tired vocals.

Yet I love it!  Maybe it’s Jake E. Lee, who is incredible.  He’s flashy in that 80’s way, but with balls.  He’s not just fluttery solos, although he certain can do that.  His riffs are choppy his fills stunning and classy.  I think Jake was a great replacement for the late Randy Rhoads, even though his true self wouldn’t shine through until Badlands.

ULTIMATE SIN_0003I like every single song.  The title track, “Secret Loser”, “Fool Like You”, “Lightning Strikes”…these are punchy Ozzy rockers.  They are well written songs, and longtime contributor Bob Daisley has credits on 8 of the 9 songs.  To me, that speaks to a certain level of quality.  Verses and choruses are strong and melodic.  The guitar riffs, solos and fills are all equally catchy and adroit.  Even one of the less interesting songs, like “Never Know Why” is still listenable today due to the catchy melody, and Jake’s flange-y guitar part.

Many of the songs such as “Thank God for the Bomb” and “Killer of Giants” return Ozzy to the anti-war stance that Black Sabbath took in the 1970’s.  I remember the 80’s clearly, and it seemed like every other week, there was a TV documentary or movie about the Soviets and the nuclear threat.  To me as a kid, Ozzy’s voice of protest eased my mind! Surely, Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev would listen to Ozzy? “Killer of Giants” is quite an achievement musically, going from electric to acoustic to heavy all with Jake E. Lee at the rudder.  It’s an awesome song.

The big hit and first single was the last song, “Shot in the Dark”.  This is bassist Phil Soussan’s only writing contribution on his only Ozzy album.  Later, he’d go on to co-write the excellent Vince Neil album Exposed, which proved he wasn’t a fluke.  It’s a great mid-tempo rock song, although the video used to kinda frighten me as a kid.  Frighten and titillate all at once.  I was 13.

And on the topic of “Shot in the Dark”, why did bands in the mid-80’s always seem to wear sequined bathrobes? I’m looking at you, Mr. Simmons circa 1986…

I look at The Ultimate Sin as a 5/5 in terms of songs and musical performances.  I’ll dock it 1 star for Ron Nevison’s clunky production and Ozzy’s tired lungs.

4/5 stars

And maybe this is a good time to rant about these fucking 1995 Sony 22 BIt SBM Digital Remasters.  Oh, I have no problem with the sound of this CD.  It’s the fucking covers!  Why did they crop the awesome artwork and put that dumb OZZY along the side?  My Lord.  I had so many customers (Gord and Glen specifically) who refused to buy these remasters because the cover is dumb.  Not to mention putting the tracklist in a circle on the back cover, making it annoying to read.

  1. The Ultimate Sin (3:43)
  2. Secret Loser (4:08)
  3. Never Know Why (4:28)
  4. Thank God for the Bomb (3:53)
  5. Never (4:18)
  6. Lightning Strikes (5:13)
  7. Killer of Giants (5:41)
  8. Fool Like You (5:19)
  9. Shot in the Dark (4:16)

57 comments

  1. I’ve been trying to get my hands on this album for some time. Like you, I believe there’s more gems than just “Shot in the Dark.” I’ve always loved “Lightning Strikes,” but the album is just so hard to find these days.

    BTW: I totally agree with you on the covers. I bought Blizzard and Diary for Mother last Christmas, and those stupid re-issues with those idiotic covers were all I could find. I was especially pissed about the Diary cover. That evil sorcerer motif was awesome. Cropping it sucks.

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    1. All very true! But at least those copies of Diary and Blizzard are the original recordings, not the ones with the re-done bass tracks.

      It would have been nice of some songs, like Lightning Strikes, would have been kept in the setlists, but Ozzy really seems to want to bury this album.

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    2. If you haven’t found a copy of this CD yet, Amazon has it in CD and MP3 formats. It appears to be an import copy of the 1995 remaster, before it was taken out of print.

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  2. I’ve got that one with the annoying cover. I’d forgotten this wasn’t included in that last batch of remasters.

    I always thought this was an OK album, nothing more. But, I’ve not listened to it in ages and you’ve really put me in the mood to give it another go. There’s quite a few songs there that I can barely remember!

    Those Sony covers had the full cover on the inside though don’t they? So you could always fold it inside out and use that instead… Top Tip!

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    1. I’m glad you mentioned that, because this is what I suggested to Gord and Glen. But folding it looked awful…kind of destroyed the booklet doing so.

      Give it a listen, come back and let me know what you think this time around!

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      1. Yeah, I thought that might happen. Never tried it myself.

        So is No Rest for the Wicked still out of print too? The last lot of reissues jumped from Bark at the Moon to No More Tears didn’t it?

        I’m definitely going to give this another listen so I’ll let you know how I get on! I might even do a review on HMO!

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        1. The Ozzy catalogue is pretty complicated with reissues and so on, but No Rest is out there WITH bonus tracks.

          One of the most confusing ones though is actually Bark at the Moon. The one with the teeny tiny cover like this is the original mix, with a bonus track called Spiders. Then there’s the remaster with the full cover and TWO bonus tracks (the other one is One Up the B-Side). HOWEVER…that version of Bark has audibly been remixed. It’s quite obvious. Different parts, different sound. I don’t know the history of the Bark at the Moon remix, but it’s not as well known as the Diary and Blizzard remixes.

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        2. Right enough. Just saw it on Amazon… 2 bonus tracks and it’s only £5! Might have to treat myself to that at some point. (Noticed that the 1995 Ultimate Sin CD is still for sale on Amazon UK too if anyone out there is looking for a copy. Just under £6)

          Didn’t know that about Bark at the Moon. The only albums I bought from that series of reissues were the 1st two (which have since been replaced… AGAIN!) and No More Tears. Any other Ozzy albums I’ve got are the 1995 Sony ones.

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        3. The later series had bonus tracks on everything, but I have them on all the B Sides. Ozzy singles are not hard to find and I think I have all of them.

          Sounds like a good buy though. Go for it!

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  3. I have always liked this album. I took into account back then that this was his first album after coming our of rehab but it’s still a decent album. Neither Regan nor Gorbachov would have listened to Ozzy, especially Regan because Ozzy was well within the cross hairs of the PMRC. While Regan didn’t openly endorse them, the PMRC operated knowing they had his behind the scenes blessing.
    This was the tour I saw him live and his concert in 1986 was the first one where I encountered Jesus freaks.

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    1. I was actually going to talk about the PMRC in this review but that didn’t survive my final edit. It’s weird to look back at that time considering what is offensive today.

      I will probably talk about the PMRC at a later date. Stickering and censoring came up as an issue at the record store and I haven’t discussed that yet in the record store tales.

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      1. Cool, thanks. I can’t wait to read it. Don’t forget that Frank Zappa was there and I think he put it best when he said, “I think our nation’s law makers have better things to do than to worry about how Little Johnny is being effected by the new WASP album.

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    1. Did I ever tell you the story my buddy related to me? He went to see Red Hot Chili Peppers in the 90s, with Space Hog opening. Hahaha oh man I’d forgotten about Space Hog til I just typed this now. Yeesh. Anyway, this was a big show, in a stadium, many thousands of people. In between bands, the roadies were switching stuff out. The mic tech doing Kiedis’ mic, who looks to be a biker in his 50s, is doing his “check… check… check one two” thing at center stage. My buddy says roadie guy eventually got satisfied with the levels, looked to his left, looked to his right, then raised both hands in devil horns and shouted “OZZY RUUUUUULES!!!” into the mic. He got a huge cheer, of course.

      I think of this every time I write/type or say those two words: Ozzy rules.

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  4. Yep this is a good album better than No Rest..these songs were good but man the production just clunks along and sounds weak on what is strong material but than again Nevision was producing Heart as well and well he totally dried out sound wise the Crazy Nights record he did for Kiss ,I guess in a way he’s probably not totally at fault as those artists want hits..but I dunno he’s not a fav producer of mine…..

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    1. Probably an all-around better album than No Rest, song wise. But I do like No Rest a lot. Hero, Fire in the Sky, Breaking All the Rules…I love those songs a lot.

      It’s actually No More Tears that I kind of find boring…

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  5. Wow I think that’s his best one or one of them….Desire,can u say….Mr Tinkertrain…we may get a debate going here…..

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    1. Which is good! What I would like to do is review it!

      For me, it’s not the good songs, so much as the songs I dislike. I really didn’t like I Don’t Want To Change the World, Mama I’m Coming Home, and a lot of those tunes.

      What I did like was Tinkertrain, the title track, and Road to Nowhere. I also felt that they may have left the best song off the album, which was Don’t Blame Me. I really liked that one.

      I don’t know where I stand with No More Tears today…I haven’t listened to it in a long time. I think I would have preferred something heavier like No Rest.

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      1. I wanna weigh in on this debate! Me, I love No More Tears. I don’t have a copy of it here right now, but I intend to correct that – with the bonus track version to get the song Mike’s on about. Never heard that. So, it’s definitely on the Taranna list, Mike!

        Anyway, Ozzy. I heard a lot of him in high school, late 80s, early 90s. Bunch of my friends were a part of the Maiden/’Tallica/Ozzy/Priest crowd (those reprobates hahaha). Alright by me, I always liked what I heard. And then I went off into my own listening for a while and lost track of the man for a little bit. And then I heard NMT (well after its release) and thought HELL YEAH! Maybe the songs don’t speak to everybody, but to me they sure did. And it has such sweet, big sound, and a battery to die for. There’s a power in this record, I can’t quite describe it. I dunno man, NMT works for me. It maybe ain’t “classic Ozzy,” for somebody like yourself who’s better immersed in it than myself, but if I were to put that record on right now, it’d bring that same lift to my spirits and put a smile on my face. NMT FTW!

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        1. Debate! No More Tears was a big album for me in the 90s, I enjoyed it a lot. A great huge-sounding summer album. I have to say that, over time, I’m getting less out of it and probably prefer No Rest now. I love that album. Ultimate Sin always went over my head a bit. I’ve still to have another listen to that to see how it stands up now.

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        2. I don’t have too much to add! Classic example of how an album can appeal to different people at different times. I certainly won’t say anything bad about No More Tears, but if it could have been a bit heavier…

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        3. I actually thought it was a fairly heavy album… but a kind of “soft” heavy if you know what I mean. The guitars are big and fat but not as gnarly as No Rest. I certainly rate it lower as time goes on…

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        4. For me personally, in the early 90s I really wanted heavy music. I was starting to enjoy thrash. Grunge had an affect too. Ozzmosis had the heaviness I sought but kind of lacked on some of the songs.

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        5. The context of you hearing an album makes such a difference. I can’t really remember mine. I was already into plenty of Thrash stuff etc… but I guess I just liked it! I did work back though. I had No More Tears before I heard No Rest so maybe that made a difference too.

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  6. Judging by the songs alone, this album is a masterpiece. And Jake E Lee is easily the best guitarist Ozzy ever had. Yes, I find him even better than Randy Rhoads. Too bad he used Ron Nevison as a producer. That guy destroys everything he puts his greasy little fingers on. Ozzy, Kiss, Europe, Heart, Survivor, Bad English… The list goes on and on. I would give this album only 7/10 because of Nevison’s lame production.
    Also, the thing with Bob Dailsey’s credits is that on the original LP, he never got any credits at all. All songs said Osbourne / Lee except for Shot In The dark which was credited to Ozzy and Phil Soussan.

    On Bark At The Moon, Spiders wasn’t the bonus track, at least not on my LP. When I bought the CD I got One Up The B-Side and Slow Down as bonus tracks.

    I think No Rest For The Wicked is an overrated album. Actually, I find it his weakest give except for the crappy Down To Earth. Ozzmosis, on the other hand, is one of the best albums in my opinion.

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    1. I think Jon, the North American version of Bark at the Moon must be different, because Slow Down was a regular album track on ours. It was the second to last track, just before Waiting For Darkness.

      I hate Down To Earth, and to this day it remains the only Ozzy Osbourne album I have never bought.

      No! Wait! Under Cover as well — I refused to buy that as well. I already own most of those songs on the Prince of Darkness box set, and I really hate them.

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      1. Ah, yes, that must be it. I guess you guys won as I find Slow Down a better song than Spiders.
        Did you like Scream? I thought that one was really dull. It felt like he didn’t really knew where to go with that one musically. Black Rain, though, I thought was a good one.

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        1. I like Scream and Black Rain about equally. Both have some outstanding songs that I love and songs that I think are filler. But tellingly I rarely reach for either when I was to listen to Ozzy. I prefer Blizzard to Ozzmosis.

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  7. Mike your call on the Live and Loud release is correct. For me I was pumped when I found out he was putting out a live album from that tour but man I found the production was not good for a live album and I got tired real quick of F bomb after F bomb…hearing it live is one thing but man on cd continuously just gets to ya after a while….
    I caught the No More Tours in Minniapolis back in June of 92…when tix went on sale me and 3 buddies bought tickets as Ozzy was calling his No More Tour Tours so we had to go!
    Ugly Kid Joe and Slaughter opened….UKJ was actually good as they had the Hate Everything About You single out and Slaughter had Wild Life which just came out which other than a few songs on it was I thought dull to say the least well compared to Stick To YA…after the fourth song into Slaughters set he yanked off his t shirt and told the crowd it’s getting to hot in here. …. He lost me after that to,say the least!…..hahahahahaha….
    Having said that Blais Elias the drummer put on a good show…..solid unfortunately the rest of them were weak……
    Ozzy and the band were excellent good set list and he opened with your fav song (ha)I don’t Wanna Change The World followed by Desire(my fav off of NMT)
    Solid all around performances and a killer 5 min drum solo by Castillio(rip) ….Zakk was amazing I mean by that time he had stepped up into what me and friends call Arena Dog status ..meaning top notch live performer and a guy who could carry the show if he had to…
    Glad we made te 6 hr drive to Minnie but of course we were all fooled when Ozzy came out with the Retirement Sucks tour for Ozzmosis 3 yrs later….
    Glad I caught that tour of his though……

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    1. I think that No More Tears and the tour, even though I don’t like the albums too much, were one of the best lineups Ozzy ever had. Zakk goes without saying, but Mike Inez and Randy Casillo are underrated. I think maybe the only better lineup might be when he had Geezer on bass! Certainly the best since the Blizzard of Ozz days.

      The swearing wore me out too. Not to mention that same summer we had a double Van Halen, two Iron Maidens, and God knows how many other live albums!

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  8. This is my favorite Ozzy album. Jake was fantastic on guitar the songs were good they made you rock out. I don’t what Ozzy’s problem was i’m sure it was his substance abuse. But I got the whole album on my iPhone. Ozzy needs to grow up and give credit to the band that made this album with him. It was a damn good album. Get over your self Ozzy Jake was Bad ass on this album!

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  9. Btw, I just looked at the credits for Bark At The Moon and it says that Ozzy wrote the whole album by himself. As if. Bob Dailsey and Jake E Lee was in the band then and my guess is that they had everything to do with the songwriting on that album. Ozzy couldn’t write an whole album by himself even if his life depended on it.

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    1. I remember seeing that too! No way in hell he wrote all that himself. You’ll see a similar credit on Black Sabbath’s Seventh Star — all songs written by Anthony Iommi. But I am sure that Glenn must have had some writing input.

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      1. Did you read Glenn Hughes biography? If not, I can highly recommend it. In that book he revealed that he wrote or co-wrote almost all the songs on that record. No Stranger To Love, In For The Kill and Heart Like A Wheel was his alone and the rest were co-writes between him and Iommi. If he is to be believed.

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        1. Well that about confirms that he definitely wrote more on that album than credited. No I have not read the book. It’s on “my list”.

          Unfortunately as I’ve got older, my attention span is a lot harder to control, and I just have a real hard time finishing a book!

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        2. Yeah, I recoginze that as well. But for some reason that doesn’t apply to biographies. So I eat them up and spit ’em out. Just read Peter Criss’ book – very good and now I’m reading a book about Kiss – “The Naked Truth” by a Swedish author named Carl Linnaeus, not that you would know him. But so far it’s very interesting and he has dug up stuff that even an old Kiss nerd like myself knew nothing about.

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  10. I remember reading somewhere that one of the reasons that “The Ultimate Sin” was taken out of print was due to a legal battle with Phil Soussan over “Shot In The Dark”. Probably unpaid royalties or something. Not only has this album been taken out of print, but the 2002 reissue of “The Ozzman Cometh” replaces “Shot In The Dark” with “Miracle Man”, and the “Prince Of Darkness” and “Essential Ozzy Osbourne” sets ignore this album completely.

    Incidentally, the Osbourne camp must’ve settled up with Bob Daisley at some point, because “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman” have recently been reissued with the original bass and drums intact.

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    1. Also, although this album is technically deleted from Ozzy’s catalog, import copies are available on CD and MP3 through Amazon.

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    2. I think they still have ongoing issues with Kerslake and Daisley, at least judging from the Daisley interviews I’ve read. I think Ozzy and Sharon had no choice but to re-release the original Blizzard and Diary albums, nobody would have bought re-recorded 30th anniversary deluxe editions. I think they are in a state of uneasy truce now.

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      1. Grow up already. I don’t understand adult people fighting with people who used to be their friends over trivial shit. But when it comes to money, Sharon is merciless and Ozzy is so whipped and won’t say anything against her. It’s tragic. But I had a good laugh when the re-mastered versions of Blizzard and Diary without Bob and Lee didn’t sell nada. I think it’s called karma…

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  11. You know how you say Born Again is your favorite album, and that you’ve listened to more than any other album ever? That’s what The Ultimate Sin is for me. I think it’s actually one of Ron Nevison’s better productions, which isn’t saying that much. This is the least treblely and balless of the many trebley balless albums he’s done. I love every song, ever solo, every drum fill, the pounding drum sound, Jake E. Lee’s mind blowing riffs in Never, everything. I realize there are flaws, but I think the songwriting here is absolutely top notch regardless of what Ozzy or Daisley says. Bark at the Moon is great, but I prefer this one by some distance. I cannot understand for the life of me how anyone could prefer No Rest for the Wicked to this (or anything Zakk did to Jake’s stuff). No Rest has some of the worst production I’ve ever heard a total muddy sonic mess. The guitars sound like they were recorded underwater. It is the same tone as that shitty Keith Olsen/Bob Rock John Sykes Whitesnake no midrange sound that ruined the sound quality of Blue Murder too. Sykes is a great player, his tone sucked ass. Put midrange in your damn guitar, that’s where the guitar frequencies are supposed to be! Ozzy’s singing was at its nadir on that album too (at least until recently). If you thought this sounds tired, listen to all the bum notes in Miracle Man. Ouch. I thought he put in a pretty good performance on TUS, but that’s just me.

    PS – Get the original CD. The 1995 remaster has an edited version of Shot in the Dark with four measures of music missing. I only know this because I’d heard the real album so many times. They also really messed up the sound on the remaster, changed it way more with EQ than the others.

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    1. NOTED. Is that longer version of SITD available elsewhere? I have that Japanese CD Best of Ozz. I bet the original track is on there, it is from 1989 so very much of that era.

      I’m sick of Zakk to be honest. Ozzy is back with Zakk again? Whoop de do. Zakk Sabbath? Whoop de do. I really don’t care anymore. BLS killed Zakk for me. Too much.

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      1. Here you go.

        https://www.discogs.com/sell/item/600616285

        This one isn’t too terribly expensive, pick it up. Some of those originals are getting hard to find. I generally thought the 95 remasters were okay, but I think they totally ruined TUS. Your compilation might have the full SITD, I’m not sure. But I’d still buy this original CD because it sounds SO much better than the remaster and you get the other songs in much better quality. If you get it and compare them you’ll know. The sound upgrade is not subtle at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I also know that the edited Shot in the Dark on the remaster is not a single edit, because the video has the full version. So I think the only version with the edited song would be the 1995 remaster, which is the version currently being used for all digital versions of the album for sale. I’d still spring for the full original CD in that link I sent you, the sound improvement is completely worth it. Like I said, not subtle at all. Better EQ and dynamic range.

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