Happy Hallowe’en! AAHOOOOOOOH! Bark at the moon!
OZZY OSBOURNE – Bark at the Moon (2002 Sony, unadvertised remixed)
Much like Diary and Blizzard, when Bark At The Moon was reissued in 2002, it was also remixed. People who own my preferred edition of this beloved Ozzy classic have noticed the unadvertised remix. (There was no sticker on the cover indicating this album was remixed, and it was also ignored in press releases. The liner notes claim this was mixed by Tony Bongiovi, like the original.) Why this was done is a mystery to me, I’ve never read anything about it. All I can say is that you’ll notice particularly on Jake E. Lee’s solos, the overall sonics, and some keyboard parts as well. The ending to some songs, and the beginnings of others are very different. Maybe Ozzy thought the album sounded dated? The remix seems as if they were trying for the drums and effects to sound “current”. Which is silly, of course. This year’s “current” is next year’s out of date, but classic will always be classic.
Either way, the original mix of Bark has been an underdog favourite for many years. Ozzy seems to really want to bury the Jake years. He only plays the title track live, none of the other songs. Granted, “Bark at the Moon” is clearly an outstanding track. There are still some lesser-known classics here equally good as the album tracks on Diary or Blizzard. For example, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel”. This riff monster sounds like the natural successor to some of the best moments on Diary. There are a ton of great songs here. “You’re No Different”, which is one of those great Ozz slow burners is another one. I’ve always liked “Slow Down” and of course “Waiting for Darkness”. Ozzy had gothed out his sound a lot more on this album and you’ll hear a lot more keyboards and even strings.
Ozzy was in a bad place back in ’83. Still hurting from the death of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy was forced to audition players again, a process he hated. Jake E. Lee (ex-Ruff Cutt) was selected, perhaps due to his ability to meld white hot riffs with neoclassical shredding. Bassist Bob Daisley returned, as did drummer Tommy Aldridge, who had played on the last tour. Don Airey returned for keyboard duties, creating a spooky atmosphere for the Ozzman to prowl.
And prowl he did. This is a hard rocking album, probably harder than the two Rhoads discs. It is also a dark sounding album. Blizzard has a lot of musical joy on it; you can hear that these guys were stoked to be playing those songs. Bark sounds a bit tired by comparison, a bit like a druggy haze. “Now You See It (Now You Don’t)” is an example of a song that has all these qualities. It has a hard, almost Sabbathy guitar riff, but is cloaked in darkness.
“Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel” is the most upbeat song. Who doesn’t like a song about rebellion in the name of rock and roll? It also has obvious references to the TV preachers who were out to get Ozzy at the time, so the song is like a big middle finger from Ozzy. “I’m a just a rock ‘n’ roll rebel, I’ll tell you no lies. They say I worship the devil, they must be stupid or blind.”
Then you have the jokey weird ballad, “So Tired”. At least that’s how I heard it then, and still hear it now. The video seems to emphasize the jokey aspect. Who doesn’t love to see Ozzy dressed up as monsters? As far as the song goes, I have no idea what they were thinking at the time. Maybe it was the drugs? Another weird thing — even thought I think the song is a joke, I love it!
As mentioned, since the remix changes the sound of the album and swaps out solos here and there, pick up one of the earlier CD editions. The 1995 remaster is pretty good; it contained the B-side “Spiders” (sometimes written as “Spiders In The Night”). Unfortunately even though it’s a well sought rarity, it’s not one of Ozzy’s better songs. It’s an obvious B-side. Better (because it’s funnier) is “One Up The B-Side” which makes its CD debut on this edition. “The bent overture”. Heh.
Now that Ozzy and Sharon have seen the light and finally reissued the original mixes of Blizzard and Diary, one can always hope for a long term Ozzy reissue program. I’d like to see the original mix of Bark At The Moon made available again. I think it’s a shame that Ozzy seems to have disowned most of the Jake E. Lee era. Jake was and remains a great guitarist — check out his work on the incredible Badlands album.
4.5/5 stars (original)
3.5/5 stars (remix)