Bark at the Moon

#810: So Tired

Wishing Ozzy and his family all the best with his recent Parkinson’s diagnosis.

 

GETTING MORE TALE #810: So Tired

I don’t know what I expected the first time I saw Ozzy Osbourne on TV.  All I knew of him was that he was supposedly a drug-crazed metal madman.  What I saw on TV was a blonde guy in a cowboy hat.  Certainly not how he had been described to me.  Just an ordinary guy?  I didn’t know any of his music yet, just the name and a little bit of the reputation.

I began learning a little bit more during one of my childhood basement VHS taping sessions in 1985.  George came over with his tape collection and I recorded clip after clip of rock and metal from him.  It was a feast!  Imagine getting all the key early videos by Ozzy, Dio, Twisted Sister, Black Sabbath and more in one afternoon.  All this new music!  All these new artists!  I only knew a few faces and names.

It was actually only Carmine Appice that I knew from Ozzy’s band.  The distinguished looking drummer, with his jet black hair and cool-as-fuck moustache was prominent in the video for “Bark at the Moon”.  I knew him from King Kobra.  There was no mistaking Carmine.

I taped a few Ozzy videos from George that day.  He only started making music videos in 1983 for Bark at the Moon.  There was nothing to represent the Randy Rhoads years — “Crazy Train” wasn’t released until 1987.  The videos I had collected to date were a live concert version of “Paranoid” from the Bark tour, “So Tired”, and “Bark at the Moon” itself.

“Paranoid” featured Jake E. Lee on guitar, but I certainly didn’t know his name.  I wouldn’t have known it was a Black Sabbath song or anything else about it.  I couldn’t tell what he was singing or shouting at the crowd.  “Get your hands on it!” I thought I heard him shout.  Hands on what?  I assumed it was something that went over my head, but all this really proves is that it doesn’t matter what a rock star is yelling at an audience.  They just have to sound cool yelling it.   He could have been shouting “Eat Grapenuts!” and it still would have sounded cool.  Sure Ozzy, I’ll have some Grapenuts.  I also misheard him singing “I can’t find” as “Yeah yeah fight!”  When you don’t know the words, your mind fills in the blanks.

Over the years, Ozzy has taken a lot of flak from religious circles for lyrics that promote suicide.  There is no way I was getting “suicide” from that performance of that song.  I wasn’t getting anything!  Rock haters — you can’t have it both ways.  You don’t get to say “You can’t understand the words” and “The lyrics cause drug abuse and suicide”.  You can’t have both at the same time.  All Ozzy caused in my household was turning up the volume knob on the TV set.

The most puzzling thing Ozzy had done to that point might be the single/video “So Tired”.  Even to people well aware of Ozzy’s career, the video was more than odd.  So imagine a kid like me in 1985 with no Black Sabbath or Ozzy albums.  That music video was peculiar to say the least.

Playing multiple characters, Ozzy seems to occupy a Victorian village, where he performs at the local opera house.  He’s also an old man, and there’s a guy with a decaying face, and another guy with one lopsided eye.  In the 80s, you see, you had to have a guy with a lopsided eye.  Black Sabbath had one in “Zero the Hero”.  An orchestra covered in cobwebs accompanies Ozzy at the playhouse.  Then Ozzy, garbed in black with sequins, shoos the ballet dancers off the stage.  Oh look!  There’s Abraham Lincoln in the balcony.  Not for long!

 

The lopsided eye guy (a stage hand presumably) suddenly pulls a knife, cuts a rope, and drops a sandbag on Ozzy’s foot!  Meanwhile, the stage manager (played by Ozzy) feeds Ozzy his lines in frustration.  Then an Ozzy with a Hitler moustache emerges on a riser playing piano.  Again, remember, Black Sabbath had a Hitlerstache guy in “Zero the Hero”!  By the time Lincoln hit the floor, I was utterly baffled.

Couple this with the fact that the song is a lush, campy ballad with strings and piano.  Not the kind of song I associated with the heavy metal madman.  I didn’t know of his history with ballads like “Changes”, nor was I aware of his love for John Lennon.  I thought “So Tired” had to be a joke!  The only guitar is in the brief solo.  Ozzy certainly couldn’t be doing this kind of music seriously.  Could he?

“So Tired” is cheesy, but that doesn’t take away that it’s actually a pretty great ballad.  The song (like the entire album) is credited solely to Ozzy.  I think Bob Daisley probably wrote it with Ozzy, maybe even Don Airey was involved.  There’s no way Ozzy wrote it alone.

The video though, that’s still to do this day one of the most outlandish things Ozzy’s ever committed to celuloid (and he had a reality TV show).  Like an Ed Wood film, it stumbles far beyond being bad, instead becoming some sort of ugly but priceless treasure.  I can’t stress this enough — at the time, Ozzy only had two official music videos.  One was “Bark at the Moon” and the other was “So Tired”.  We didn’t have much to judge Ozzy by, and it’s safe to say that “So Tired” threw us all for a loop!

REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Prince of Darkness (2005 Sony box set)

PRINCE OF DARKNESS_0001OZZY OSBOURNE – Prince of Darkness (2005 Sony)

Let’s pretend that you’re involved with Ozzy Osbourne’s management or record label.  When it comes time to release that first “definitive” box set, I’m sure you’d have your own ideas for making it the best box that Ozzy could release.  Ozzy Osbourne in 2005 had eight mostly great studio albums, numerous live records, and more rarities than you could shake a stick at.  They certainly had a lot of music to choose from.  I greeted the eventual release of Prince of Darkness with great excitement at these rarities…but tremendous disappointment at the overall listening experience.

A 4-CD box set is a lot of listening and in order to keep it riveting from end to end, you have to pick the right tracks and sequence them for maximum firepower.  Somebody at Sony’s box set department didn’t get my memos on that, obviously, because Prince of Darkness is one of the most annoying box sets to listen to in its entirety.   They decided to do two discs “anthology” style, with live and rare tracks mixed in.  The third disc is a questionable collection of Ozzy collaborations.  The final CD is the worst of all:  covers that Ozzy recorded and later released on their own album, Under Cover!  A CD that was released only months after Prince of Darkness itself — with additional bonus tracks to milk it further, forcing the completist to buy it again!

PRINCE OF DARKNESS_0004I have so many complaints about this set that I felt it best to list them all off in point form.

1. Never, ever start your box set off with a live track.  Even if that live track is “I Don’t Know” from Randy Rhoads Tribute.

2. Because this set was released in 2005, you are hearing the re-recorded bass and drums on all the songs from Blizzard and Diary…not the classic original versions.

3. Same with the tunes from Bark at the Moon.  These are the remixed versions found on the 2002 reissue of that album.  There are only two songs from that album anyway.  “Bark” itself is an unreleased live version.

4. Two CDs is not enough space to represent Ozzy’s album output in a box set, especially when you include the studio albums, live albums and rare tracks too.  The early Randy Rhoads material makes up the bulk of disc one, leaving the Jake E. Lee years under represented.  There are no songs from The Ultimate Sin at all, only the three live tracks originally for the Ultimate Live Ozzy EP.

5.  There are a few baffling exclusions, such as “Miracle Man” (first single with Zakk) and “I Just Want You”, in favour of also-rans such as “Spiders”.

6. The collaborations disc is a total mess.  “Purple Haze” is just a Hendrix cover from the No Rest For the Wicked era, by Ozzy’s band.  It’s not a collaboration, just a cover they did for the Make A Difference Foundation CD called Stairway To Heaven/Highway To Hell.  It’s a real challenge to listen to this whole CD in one sitting.  One moment you’re rocking out to a killer version of “N.I.B.” with Primus, the next you’re barfing through a piece of crap with Tony Iommi and Wu-Tang Clan.  From Was Not Was to Miss Piggy, at least the CD is diverse, and it does collect a lot of Ozzy’s singing from albums I don’t have.  I already had the Miss Piggy track but not the cover of “Stayin’ Alive” by Dweezil Zappa! Nor did I have “I Ain’t No Nice Guy” by Motörhead, from the mediocre March ör Die.  This disc is too jokey and not at all consistent.

PRINCE OF DARKNESS_0005

7. Even though the third disc collects a variety of tracks from a number of CDs, I am certain that Ozzy fans who buy this kind of box set already had some of them.  Including “Psycho Man” by Black Sabbath (not even a single remix version) from the Reunion CD (2008) is odd.  Many Ozzy and Sabbath collectors already have the Nativity in Black CDs, where the Primus and Therapy? tracks come from.

8. “Nowhere to Run (Vapor Trail)” by DMX, Ozzy Osbourne, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, The Crystal Method and Fuzzbubble is edited!  This track was from the South Park album and still features Isaac Hayes’ introduction, as “Chef”.  For reasons I cannot explain at all, the swearing and “n” words are blanked, and there were a lot of them.   It’s also missing ODB’s rant at the end, which itself was edited off later versions of the South Park CD.  (I have an earlier version with the rant intact.)

9. The packaging leaves a hell of a lot to be desired.  Inside the box which is just book-style, you will find a nice big booklet that just sits loose inside.  There is no way to secure it in, so it’ll fall out any time you pick it up!

10. Speaking of that booklet, the liner notes suck.  Ozzy has a brief note about each song, but not necessarily any useful information.  For example, regarding that South Park track, all we’re told is that Ozzy bit the head off Kenny.  Nothing about how that random assortment of artists was assembled.  The book is padded out with lyrics and shoddy credits that aren’t very accurate.  “Bark at the Moon” live for example was recorded in 1982-1983 according to the notes.  Come on, guys!  Not good enough for a box set.

11.  The entire fouth CD sucks.  You can read my review of the expanded Under Cover version of it here.  (Long story short: 1/5 stars.)  The only difference is that the box set includes Kelly Osbourne’s duet with daddy, on “Changes”.  This song was only included on the Japanese version of Under Cover but not the regular domestic.

Fortunately, Prince of Darkness is not a total bust.  Some of the unreleased tracks are real treasures, such as the demo of “S.I.N.” called “Won’t Be Coming Home”.  I prefer this to the album version from No More Tears by a long shot, as I do the twangier “I Don’t Want to Change the World”.  I also love the demo for the emotional ballad “See You On the Other Side”, which features previously unheard saxophone accompaniment.  I appreciated that they included the live version of “Perry Mason” from the Ozzfest 1 CD, which enabled me to sell off that pretty crappy album.

It’s easy to bitch and complain (don’t I know it?) but if I were to make a 4 CD Ozzy box from the same period, I would have done it very differently.  The covers CD would be axed completely and the rarities set aside to a disc all their own.  The first two “anthology” discs would be strictly studio versions, and original studio versions at that, with only a sprinkle of tracks from Randy Rhoads Tribute.  I would try to squeeze in more rare tracks from B-sides and EPs, and I would definitely try to mix them in with the collaborations so that you’re not left listening to so many of those novelty tunes in a row.

Buyer beware — Prince of Darkness is not the feast you were hoping for. This is a poorly executed package. When you have an artist like Ozzy Osbourne, you really gotta screw up bad to put out a set that is this hard to listen to. Prince of Darkness is going back on the shelf, for a good long while.

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Bark at the Moon (2002 Remixed version)

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)