REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Ozzmosis (1995, remastered)

Scan_20160727OZZY OSBOURNE – Ozzmosis (1995, 2002 Sony remaster)

It is fair to say that Ozzy’s solo recording career post-No More Tears is not considered as classic as the music from before. Admittedly it was a confusing time. Ozzy finished his “No More Tours” tour while all the talk was about a Sabbath reunion that never happened. Retirement wasn’t in the cards, so Ozzy re-teamed with a few former members of his band: Zakk Wylde on guitar, and Geezer Butler on bass. Joining the band behind the drums was a pre-Journey Deen Castronovo. Ozzy sat down to write with a number of talents including Steve Vai, and eventually produced the “post retirement” album Ozzmosis.

Ozzmosis was considered by some fans to be inferior to No More Tears, although song for song, No More Tears isn’t as great as people seem to remember it.  Ozzmosis has a heavier, more bass-centric sound and certainly boasts at least four Ozzy classics in its grooves.  Osbourne has gone on record as preferring the demo versions of some songs better than the album tracks, but Ozzmosis boasts a hell of a heavy sound.

Ozzy was also struggling with his public image.  He didn’t want to be seen at the bat-biting madman anymore.  I suppose that’s why we see songs like “Perry Mason” on Ozzmosis.  Not a bad track, it was chosen as lead single.  But the subject matter?  Not sure why, but:

“Who can we get on this case?
We need Perry Mason,
Someone to put you in place,
Calling Perry Mason.”

Certainly a far cry lyrically from “Bark at the Moon”, but musically it’s still Ozzy prowling in the shadows, warning you of the dangers.  It’s delightful to hear Geezer’s trademark slinky bass all over it.  (I have often said that Ozzy’s best solo band, post-Randy, had Geezer and Zakk.)  Ozzy was sufering from some vocal issues at the time, but “Perry Mason” isn’t one of the songs you can tell this from.  Only Ozzy Osbourne & Co. could make a song about Perry Mason this cool.

“Perry Mason” would be one of the four album classics.  Also up there is “I Just Want You”, which he wrote with Canadian songsmith Jim Vallance.  Ozzy was rightfully proud of this heavy ballad.  Rick Wakeman provided keys, classy and absolutely perfect.  At times he’s playing synth parts that sound like mellotron, at others like a big fat Hammond organ (bigger than Orlando Bloom’s wang).  At all times, it is awesome.  Zakk Wylde plays an effects-laden solo that sounds underwater, but in a good way.  It’s haunting and not robbed of its power.  He utilises this “watery” sound on a number of tracks on Ozzmosis.

Standing with these songs is “See You on the Other Side”, another fab ballad from the dark side.  Ozzy’s preferred demo version (with sax solo) can be found on his Prince of Darkness box set.  There’s nothing wrong with this version though, haunting as it is.   It was written by Ozzy, Zakk, and Lemmy Kilmister, who helped Ozzy out with the words.

The fourth and final classic is the album closer, “Old L.A. Tonight”.  As one of Ozzy’s piano ballads, it has been largely forgotten over the years.  The piano and Zakk’s very emotive playing only amplify what Ozzy’s singing.  Zakk’s solo is one of his finest.  Why some things become hits and not others, I don’t always understand.  “Old L.A. Tonight” is superior in almost every way to a track like “Mama I’m Coming Home”, or “So Tired”.   This is one of the tracks that does reveal cracks in the Ozzman’s voice, as he reaches for very high notes and quavers.  I can’t hit the notes he’s hitting, though.

You’ll notice that of the four album classics, three are ballads, and that’s a problem.  Yes, even as far back as “Changes” or “Planet Caravan”, Ozzy has been a master of the art of the heavy ballad.  His core audience tends to buy albums for his heavy metal songs, and the heavy material on Ozzmosis is lacking.  Few of those songs really congeal into something solidly memorable.  The album sounds heavy on effects, and while that strategy worked on the four classics, it tends to choke and strangle the other songs, inhibiting Ozzy’s voice with a nasal muffler.  It’s surprising how much time he spends singing higher than what sounds comfortable, and that too is a weakness.

Sony tacked on two bonus tracks for this 2002 reissue — a rip off, and I’ll explain why.  The album includes two B-sides:  “The Whole World’s Falling Down” and “Aimee”.  (That makes two songs about Ozzy’s kids on this CD, including “My Little Man” about Jack.)   There were however four B-sides released for this album, and two are not included for no good reason.  Missing are “Living With the Enemy” and “Voodoo Dancer”, but fear not.  None of Ozzy’s B-sides this time out were really keepers.  “Aimee” isn’t bad, but Ozzy has done much better stuff for his B-sides in the past.  Songs like “You Said It All”, “Don’t Blame Me”, and “Liar”.

Zakk Wylde didn’t do the tour for this album, even though he co-wrote and played on it.  Zakk seemed to be trying to establish himself separate from Ozzy at the time, and so Ozzy toured with Joe Holmes who had finished up a stint with David Lee Roth.  (Though Ozzy stuck with Holmes for five years, I never thought he sounded right playing the Ozzy or Sabbath material.)  After a brief leg, Ozzy fired Deen Castronovo and re-hired his previous drummer Randy Castillo.  Ozzy made a backhanded statement about Castronovo being a talented session drummer, and that’s what he should continue to do.  Ouch.

It’s a mixed bag, but when you hit a gem in the grooves of Ozzmosis, it is worth the price of purchase. Shame about the stinky cover art.

3.25/5 stars

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42 comments

  1. Good and Fair review…the Vallance tune i think is the best track on this whole album. Of course Ozzy played the Farewell tour card in 92 in which we all bought into and went of course(Review at my site..shameless plug) so of course with the Ozzmosis tour he called it The Retirement Sucks tour..ha…
    I have not listened to this in a long time but i recall being disappointed somewhat by it after the strong musical muscle statement that No More Tears made…tuff one to follow…..

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We have differences of opinions on this one Mikey!
        NRFTW i could not handle the sterile sound of the drums whereas NMT was the tour i seen Ozzy on and his firing on all 4 cylinders on the 92 tour….so that’s why that album dig a lot more….

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Bought it on vinyl and i just could not get into it…but like I said before there was so much product coming out if something I found wasn’t top notch I was moving on pretty quickly….

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  2. Agree and disagree Mike. Firstly, another tasty review thanks so much for covering such good records. But whike I’d add Tomorrow to the list of gems you rightly highlight from this solid record, count me in the camp still thinking No More Tears was indeed as good as they remember :) Put it down to nostalgia put it down to the time from which it came, heck I put it down to No More Tears simply being one of the best fooking records released LOL, easily and always a top5 album fer me.

    But take nothing away from Ozzmosis, still a fine record even if not on the level of NMT (just my 2c). But while not releasing as good an album since, there’s always been a nugget or two on each release (the overlooked borderline classic Running Out Of Time from the otherwise plain Down To Earth, Countdown and Nightmare from Black Rain and Mike already said what’s best about Scream here https://mikeladano.com/2014/03/22/review-ozzy-osbourne-scream-2011-tour-edition/)… But Ozzmosis remains (at least to me) the last of the very best of the Ozzy records.

    Thanks for the usual in deoth review, a bloody good read and overall agree with ya thoughts on this one :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the awesome comment man! I guess I’ll have to do my No More Tears review soon although I’m sure some will find it controversial!

      Down to Earth is the only Ozzy album I have never bought. I bought the singles from it, but not the album. I do have the live album from that tour and was going to review it soon.

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      1. Please do :)

        No probs with controversial so long as you accept some lengthy count-arguments LOL. Can’t recommend DTE, tbh the only track worthy of his past IMO was Running Out Of Time (was rather baffled they went with the other ballad as single opinions being what they are of course) and Black Rain was even worse likewise its poor cover art hmmm…

        Look forward to a No More Tears review.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Funny thing about No More Tears was that one of the best tracks wasn’t even on the album. Don’t Blame Me, I thought that was one of the best tracks right up there with the title track. But we’ll get there!

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        1. I really like it myself. It’s one of my favorites albums from Ozzy, but I could see how others might be disappointed. It’s definitely not Bark At The Moon or Diary of a Madman.

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      1. Not a return exactly :) Cough cough.

        Stolen CDs were a problem in the late 90’s. I’d say from 1995-1997, the cops in our town had their hands well full with shoplifting.

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  3. thanks for this. I was under the impression that this was not worth the time but due to your review just listened to it and these days it sounds okey. Will give it a couple more spins to see whether it sticks…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The guy is incredibly talented. I first became aware with him via Kiss! He co-wrote some of their heaviest material! (This led to a Kiss song being used on a Bryan Adams album, Don’t Leave Me Lonely.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have to admit that this is the only Ozzy album I’ve ever really been interested in. Mostly cause I dug Perry Mason and some of the other tracks are vaguely familiar. I’ll maybe not pick it up anytime soon, though.

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  5. I’ve always liked Ozzmosis. The four tracks you point out are most definitely the strongest on the album though. I always thought Perry Mason was about the fact that in the early 90s, he was always being sued by some grieving parent whose child had committed suicide and after the death, the parent found an Ozzy record in their child’s record collection so it must have been Ozzy’s fault. Once, I read an interview where Ozzy said he refused to get involved in the cases and just let his lawyer handle it. Some of the lyrics of Perry Mason seem to point to this.

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  6. Hmm – my comment from yesterday never appeared (nor did a few others on a few other sites, perhaps it will eventually. I think I’d said, hadn’t known about the Vallance connection here, add it to his already impressive resume!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Not a single metal fan I’ve ever known agrees with me, but “Ozzmosis” is my favorite solo Ozzy album. It has less to do with the quality of the songs and more to do with the connotations of the album in my life. This came out during my first semester in law school, and I played it constantly, especially while prepping for exams. The experience stuck with me to the point that I remember listening to “I Just Want You” over and over again the night before I took the bar exam, three years later. (I nailed the bar exam, and honestly I credit Ozzy with an assist on that goal). I also recall listening to “Old L.A. Tonight” while waiting to board my plane home after that first semester was over. This album is heavier than most give it credit for, catchier than “No More Tears,” and more tightly-produced. No one can argue with Zakk Wylde’s incredible guitar work. I’m probably the only metal fan in America that reaches for this album first when I feel a mood to hear Ozzy. Yes, I’m strange, I know. To put it in perspective, “Diamonds Are Forever” is my favorite Bond film and Franklin Pierce is my favorite U.S. President. I know I’ve got a screw loose somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I have a soft spot for Diamonds are Forever too. I think it was my first Bond. I saw a lot of Roger Moore’s films long before I saw my first Connery. Upon seeing Sean for the first time, I thought, “Meh, I like Roger Moore.”

      I’m really pleased that other people have feelings for Old L.A. Tonight. It’s a really special song for me. I think I played that one about 7 or 8 times in a row one night driving around.

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  8. Ozzmosis is a very underrated album, in my opinion. I think it’s great and I really can’t find any bad tracks on it even though My Little Man is somewhat underwhelming. Just like you, I believe No More Tears is slightly overrated. it contains some really awesome tracks but it’s also not short of fillers, something this album does not have.
    I also like Michael Beinhorn’s production and even though Deen Castronovo turned out to be a douche deluxe, you can’t deny he’s a drum phantom. He and Ozzy probably had some really nice drug binges during the recording…

    Weird thing was when he toured this album, he didn’t play one single off this record sp maybe he wasn’t that fond of it himself – or maybe he just couldn’t be arsed to rehearse any new stuff…

    Still, I think this was Ozzy’s finest moment since The Ultimate Sin and I don’t think Ozzy has recorded one killer record after this one either.
    What I don’t get is why he let go of the Ozzy logo type…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Boy, I sure lost a lot of respect for Deen in the past year. But considering that Journey got Steve Smith back, I think they ended up with a much better drummer out of it. Of course Smith won’t stay forever but now they have 4/5 of the most popular Journey lineup!

      Good question on the Logo. I think he just wanted to go for a different image. But I miss that classic logo!

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  9. I still really like No More Tears. I know we’ve had this conversation before. It’s cool!

    Haha Perry Mason… Ozzy gets any older, he’ll instead be calling for Maaaaaatloooooock!

    I don’t have this one here. I think I’ve seen it in the shops brand new for $5. A 3.25/5… is that worth $5?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Whoah really Mike? That bad???

        Maybe I should make NMT my first :). That cover art would lend itself nicely to some tooning and what can I say, count me in board with kmalive, terrific record easily a 4.5…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah man, I played it a few months ago and couldn’t muster anything to say!

          But I’m working on some new format ideas, some “brief” reviews (200-350 words) and maybe No More Tears will work for me in that format.

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