Expectations were low at LeBrain HQ for a new album by Ozzy Osbourne. In that regard, Ozzy delivered. Ordinary Man is an ordinary album. It is Hard Rock 2020 distilled down to 50 minutes. Nothing on this album comes close to challenging anything from the first six Ozzy albums. It’s most comparable to 2001’s Down to Earth, an overly-modern affair put together by suits.
This time out, the suits assembled a band consisting of Duff McKagan (GN’R) on bass, Chad Smith (RHCP) on drums, and Andrew Watt (California Breed) on guitar. These guys, plus a smattering of strangers, are responsible for the songwriting. The melodies are very deliberate and calculated rather than natural sounding. While things with Zakk Wylde were getting stale, at least Zakk tried to keep Ozzy on track. I’m not sure Ozzy is on track here. “I’ll make you scream, I’ll make you defecate.” Who wrote that?
The glossy production covers up some pretty stellar playing. Watt is fantastic when soloing, but sounds a bit like he’s trying to ape the Zakk vibe. In the vocals department, you can hear some telltale signs of autotune, which I guess is OK now in 2020. If Paul Stanley can lipsynch live and get away with it, then Ozzy can autotune his albums. I suppose.
Some of the better tracks include the ballads, and the surprising “Scary Little Green Men”. This one features some awesome lickity-licks from Tom Morello. Slash appears elsewhere, not sounding at all like Slash. The single “Under the Graveyard” is not bad. The worst track has to be “It’s a Raid”, possibly an outtake from Blink 182’s Neighborhoods CD.
Elton John sings on one track, and it’s not bad at all, sounding like a classic Ozzy ballad from the 1990s. I didn’t recognise Reginald Dwight’s voice at first. It’s deeper these days. Regarding Post Malone, he’s fine, has a decent voice albeit also autotuned. I don’t know what the guy sounds like without enhancement, but he sounds like he’s probably a better singer than Ozzy recently. I could do without his song “Take What You Want”, but at least the Japanese edition of the album ends on a better note. A blues track called “Darkside Blues” is brief, but actually sounds like something more real, more genuine.
Think about your favourite Ozzy albums. How often to do you spin Blizzard, Diary, or Tears? Now think about how often you play Down to Earth, Black Rain, and Scream. In two years’ time, you’ll be spinning Ordinary Man about as often as Black Rain, but you won’t be getting Wylde.