OZZY OSBOURNE – Just Say Ozzy (1990 Epic EP)
Nobody was shocked when Ozzy Osbourne, the man who said he hated live albums, put out his fourth (!) solo live release in 1990. (His other three live releases were the Mr. Crowley EP, Speak of the Devil, and Randy Rhoads Tribute. This does not include the Ultimate Live Ozzy EP which was…not live.) The liner note by Ozzy attempts to justify its release. “Firstly, ‘Shot in the Dark’,” begins Ozzy. “I am happier with this version than the original.” (Oooh, sick burn on Jake.) Ozzy continues, “Secondly, the Sabbath songs – To have recorded them one last time with Geezer Butler, Zakk and Randy says it all for me. It’s a chapter of my musical career I can now close.”
What the fuck did that mean?
Was Ozzy going to stop playing Sabbath songs? Did anyone actually believe that? The bitter liner notes accompany a front cover emblazoned with all four band members’ names, in the same sized font as Ozzy’s. And on the front cover is not Ozzy Osbourne, but guitarist Zakk Wylde! (Albeit from behind so you can’t see his face, and he’s just in one corner of the cover.) It all seems to deliver a message of “I am focused on the present, not my past.” This quartet was fully expected to record the next Ozzy studio album together, athough ultimately that did not happen. Geezer left in 1991 for a reunited Dio-era Black Sabbath. So much for not looking back!
Just Say Ozzy functioned as a stopgap. Ozzy would take his time with the next LP (which at that time was tentatively titled No Dogs Allowed, then Don’t Blame Me), but No Rest for the Wicked was already two years past. They had to release something, so here it is. One careful listen will reveal a lot of studio trickery was employed afterwards. Indeed, if one focuses on the crowd noise you can hear edits everywhere. Billboard magazine revealed that the music for this album was re-recorded in the studio with audience noise overdubbed.
Having said that, if this kind of trickery doesn’t bother you (and if you own Kiss Alive! or Frampton Comes Alive then it shouldn’t too much) then this is a great EP. Just Say Ozzy‘s meager six songs feature the only recordings of the brief Osbourne/Wylde/Butler/Castillo lineup. I was always a fan of those particular guys and there’s something to be said when you have two original Black Sabbath members in the band, while Black Sabbath only had one.
Since this EP was from the No Rest tour, three of its heaviest songs were showcased: the single “Miracle Man”, “Tattooed Dancer”, and “Bloodbath in Paradise”. No ballads. These three songs are nice to have, but are not even close to competing with the better known hits.
From The Ultimate Sin comes “Shot In The Dark”…yes, Ozzy’s so-called “preferred version”. And it is indeed very good. Zakk Wylde was a talented kid even then, and I love the youthful “go for it” attitude in his playing. “Shot in the Dark” features an extended solo that established Zakk’s place with his axe predecessors. Then, a deuce of Sabbath: a smokin’ “Sweet Leaf” and probably the best live version of “War Pigs” that I have ever heard.
Yeah, that’s what I said.
This Zakk-infused version of “War Pigs” is, in this humble writer’s opinion, the best live version ever released. Zakk’s guitar digs deep into the strings with those nice wide vibratos. It’s just monstrous, plus with Geez on bass, it has that slink it needs. Randy Castillo (RIP) was certainly no slouch, and his relentless fills here are solidly entertaining.
3/5 stars. Shame about that crappy cover art though.
- “Miracle Man”
- “Bloodbath in Paradise”
- “Shot in the Dark”
- “Tattooed Dancer”
- “Sweet Leaf”
- “War Pigs”