And it should be over; it had its run. It had a start, middle, and a couple endings. And it should be over now. Ozzy is right and this is good.
Ozzy is also right when he says the music he recorded with Tony Iommi on the excellent Patient Number 9 could have made great Black Sabbath tracks. He also sounds legitimately sad that he’s not touring and his health isn’t up to it.
All things considered (and there is a lot to consider), Ozzy looks pretty good here. Rock on Ozz.
It’s very easy to be cynical about any new Ozzy album since about Down To Earth and onwards. Corporate constructions. Special guest writers and performers. “Here Ozzy, sing these new songs we wrote for you.” Prior to that, it felt like Ozzy had a band, and that band took different directions on each album. Now Ozzy has Andrew Watt and a slate of big-namers. It’s been this way a while. This time the difference is, the process resulted in a pretty decent album. Sure it’s still Watt at the helm, with special guests in big letters on the back cover and front stick. Jeff Beck! Eric Clapton! Tony Iommi! Zakk Wylde! Of course without a real band, you don’t get that cohesive band sound, but what you do get ain’t bad indeed.
Each track (except for “Darkside Blues” which is either a new version or a new mix of the Japanese bonus track from Ordinary Man) has credits by Andrew Watt and professional songsmith Ali Tamposi. She’s more known for Kelly Clarkson, Nickelback, and a slew of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus hits. She also co-wrote most of Ordinary Man so there’s a formula at work here. Other co-writers include Ryan Tedder, Duff McKagan, Chad Smith, Robert Trujillo, Tony Iommi, Chris Chaney, and the late great Taylor Hawkins.
Ozzy falls into his comic horror persona a bit too much. There was once a time when he was trying to shed that “crazy madman” image but he’s really leaned into it again for the last couple decades. As such the album opens with silly “insane asylum” sound effects that only delay us getting to the good stuff. The opening title track is over seven minutes long with that nonsense attached. It’s also one of the poorer of the new songs, overly formulaic and modern with robotic hooks. Jeff Beck’s unconventional and slippery solo work makes it worth a listen (Watt and Wylde play the rhythm and fills).
Things really get moving on track two, “Immortal” featuring Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and Duff on bass. Good riffing and grooving going on here, and the first memorable chorus. The Hawkins co-penned “Parasite” is another grooving highlight, featuring the Foo Fighter on drums. The chorus is really solid and just moves like a ‘Vette on the highway. That’s Zakk on lead guitar, but he’s instantly recognizable. Former Ozzy bassist and currently Metallicer Rob Trujillo on bass.
What’s really amazing is that with the help of Tony Iommi, this hodge-podge of creators managed to write a seriously Sabbathy dirge called “No Escape From Now”. You’d swear it’s Geezer Butler on bass, but it’s not. It’s actually Watt. It’s as Sabbathy, if not more so, than most of the 13 album. It feels a bit “token”, like, “Oh hey Sabbath fans, here’s a song with the riffs and time changes that you like.” Yet it’s one of the songs you’ll keep returning to, and probably for those reasons. Of note, this is the only song without Andrew Watt on rhythm guitar. It’s all Tony and only Tony which is the reason it feels heavy as a bloody brick.
In a throwback to Ozzmosis, “One of Those Days” with Eric Clapton really sounds a bit like “I Just Want You”. Clapton really adds a touch of class. One could imagine that the chorus will upset certain people with it’s refrain of “I don’t believe in Jesus”, but it is one hell of a chorus – pun intended. Unfortunately the ballad that follows, “A Thousand Shades”, is a throwaway, aside from the brilliant Jeff Beck guitar solo. One of the Hawkins co-penned tracks called “Mr. Darkness” takes a minute to get going, seemingly a song about fan letters that Ozzy once received. It and the next two songs all feature Zakk Wylde on guitar. Dull verses, but awesome chorus, with an awesome Sabbathy change towards the end. The only dumb part is the silly ending where Ozzy speaks, “You don’t even know my name you asshole.” Just…no.
“Nothing Feels Right” is another ballad, very Ozzmosis-y. Decent song, good chorus, with all the production bells and whistles. It really smokes during the solo section. Another Sabbathy sounding riff emerges on “Evil Shuffle” and it really seems clear that Andrew Watt is trying to channel Geezer Butler’s bass playing on this album. Not that it’s a bad thing. Then it’s the much-hyped “Degradation Rules” with Tony Iommi, a song about masturbation, but not as good as the prior Iommi song. The main hook here is Ozzy’s harmonica playing, a great throwback to “The Wizard”.
“Dead and Gone” is a deep cut highlight, with a latter-day Priest-like groove and lots of Zakk Wylde chunk. An album highlight buried way in the back end. Finally, “God Only Knows” is the last proper song, but unfortunately sort of a last gasp rather than a late highlight. Kind of a ballad, with lush backing vocals, but not a “Road to Nowhere” kind of late album winner.
The outro music, “Darkside Blues”, appears to be a remix of the original version from Ordinary Man‘s Japanese release. You can compare the waveforms below. It’s a swampy track with more of Ozzy’s harmonica, just a coda to the album.
It’s pretty amazing at this stage of the game that Ozzy is still cranking out new music, but of course he has a huge support team behind him. This time, the team produced an album better than the last one by a pretty fair margin. They could have cut two tracks and made it a more engaging and concise listen. It’s always a balancing act between giving the listener added value, or a streamlined experience. A minor quibble at the end of the day.
Storm Force’s debut album goes straight to #1 on their very first appearance! No surprise here. I’ve been raving about this disc since February and I owe it to Superdekes for putting these guys on my radar in the first place. This is a well-deserved #1. Age of Fear is an uplifting album with depth. It’s a thoughtful, heart-pounding blast of classic hard rock.
Deep Purple’s Whoosh! and AC/DC’s PWRUP prove two things: old dogs that both learn and don’t learn new tricks can all be champions. (I call this theory “Schrödinger’s Dog”.) Deep Purple’s growth continues while AC/DC managed to tap into the vein of success that always worked for them. Both records deserve their spots in the Top 3.
It was a thrill for me to learn that Dennis DeYoung both read and enjoyed my review of his newest album 26 East Vol 1. It’s a terrific, Styx-like conceptual work that will please the old fans. As will the new albums by Harem Scarem and Stryper, who didn’t stray far from their successful classic hard rock formulas. Kim Mitchell and Sven Gali on the other hand dared to be different. Kim went laid back and acoustic, while Sven Gali went with their heaviest uninhibited inclinations. As for Mr. Bungle, it has been 21 years since their last album California. All four Bungle studio albums are completely different from one another — four different genres. For The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, they teamed up with Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo to re-record their first thrash metal demo tape. And it could be their best album since the self-titled debut in 1991. Not bad for a bunch of songs they wrote in highschool.
Corey “Mother Fuckin'” Taylor makes his debut on any list of mine with his solo album CMFT. It’s a surprising collection of commercial hard rockin’ tunes. Also appearing for the first time is Now Or Never (NoN) with their third album called III, featuring singer Steph Honde. It’s an excellent, dramatic metal album with light and shade.
Ultimately whether or not you liked the new Ozzy, its success or failure falls at the feet of producer/guitarist Andrew Watt. He is already working on the next Ozzy album, so….
Huge thanks to T-Bone Erickson for the “LeBrain Train” theme song, which amazingly and unexpectedly became the song of the year in 2020! Weird how that happened. No bias here I assure you.
Finally, Wolfgang Van Halen finally released his first solo music under the name Mammoth WVH. The non-album single “Distance” is dedicated to his late father Eddie. Though musically it’s a modern power ballad, the lyrics and especially the music video evoke serious emotion. Well done Wolfgang. Can’t wait to check out his album in 2021.
There were a lot of cool rock releases in 2020, so we need more lists! Of course the brilliant new live Maiden deserved some loving attention. Meanwhile, Sloan, Def Leppard and Thin Lizzy have continued to put out quality collections of rarities & unreleased material, well worth the time and money you’ll spend on them. The Sloan collection is a vinyl exclusive and the first in a series of LPs re-releasing some of their B-sides and non-album and bonus tracks. Finally, Metallica delivered the goods even without Michael Kamen on S&M2, a very different live set than the first S&M. That’s the way to do it!
It’s naive to assume that major touring and concerts will return in 2021. This appears highly optimistic at present, with Covid still ravaging the landscape and vaccinations only just beginning. Instead of looking ahead at things like the resuming Kiss tour, or the Motley Crue reunion, we should continue to put our faith in new music.
Accept have a new album due January 15 intriguingly titled Too Mean to Die. It is their first without bassist Peter Baltes. Steven Wilson has a new record out at the end of that month. In February we get new Foo Fighters, The Pretty Reckless, Willie Nelson and Alice Cooper. Greta Van Fleet, Weezer, Rob Zombie, Ringo Starr, and Thunder will be back soon too. Many other bands are writing and recording without an announced due date. Ghost, Marillion, Scorpions, Megadeth and even Ratt are hard at work to make next year suck a little less. Support the bands by buying the music.
GETTING MORE TALE #833: Postcards From the Solo Summer of ’86
(Part Four of the 1986 Saga)
While we definitely had our fun in the summer of 1986, there was one person missing from all of it: Bob Schipper. I really missed my best friend. Bob was spending the summer in Calgary, Alberta with his older brother Martin. I was so used to doing…well…everything with Bob! It was really quiet around the neighbourhood without him. I had to come up with my own games and schemes without my partner in crime.
I spent a lot of afternoons watching TV in the basement, recording music videos and watching WWF wrestling. I wanted to update my buddy on all the latest songs I’ve been hearing, and the newest wrestling plots and turns. I was bored! But one day, I received a postcard from him. The first contact in weeks! I was so excited to hear from my friend again. Even in this brief postcard, he talked about music. We were both so into rock bands, it was already dominating our interests.
“Hey Mike, it’s me Bob, writing a post card to you to tell you that I’m still living. I hope everything is okay over there, because it’s great here. I got this awesome poster of Gene Simmons you’ve got to see. Well, see you soon.”
My mom got his address in Calgary from his mother, and I wrote him back a letter. I had to update him on all the gossip and goings-on in the world.
A short while later I got a letter back and jumped in glee. I read it twice through. One of the biggest pieces of news that I had to update him on, was that my parents had finally agreed to get a dog. “Boy, Katy finally got what she wanted,” Bob said. It was definitely my sister that wanted the dog most. I was not sure how I felt about it yet. Big changes, big adjustments!
Bob had news of his own. I had heard he was going to be seeing a concert, but didn’t know who.
“You know what, the concert I was going to see, well it was cancelled. The group I was going to see was OZZY OSBOURNE, and I was looking so forward to it, but now he’s coming back in October instead.” That would obviously not do, since Bob would be coming back home in August. The opening act was a group neither of us knew: Metallica.
“P.S. – Have you seen the commercial for Friday the 13th Part 6? I’m going to see it.” Bob loved his horror movies a lot more than I did.
The next letter from him arrived a couple weeks later.
“I can hardly wait to show you the two albums I bought. They’s both rare KISS albums! The first one I bought is a mint condition Killers album with the new KIZZ logo.” This is the very copy of Killers that I own today, acquired from Bob all those years ago. No longer mint condition, far from it in fact. I remember doing things like playing it backwards, and tracing the West German logo with the backwards Z’s. You can see the indentation from my pen. A shame, really.
“If you think that’s great,” he continued, “wait till you see my other one! It’s a picture-disc album, with a Kiss interview on it! On one side it has a picture of the unmasked Kiss, and the other side Gene with his axe guitar! The amazing thing was it was only twenty dollars! Also, I got two cassette tapes, Alive II and Love Gun. I also might be getting Dressed to Kill.” I recall the Kiss interview disc was from the Lick It Up era because they were talking about Vinnie Vincent and taking off the makeup. In fact I still have this interview on a cassette, because I taped everything from Bob.
We were getting closer to getting our new dog in August. Bob remarked, “I can hardly wait to see Katy’s new dog.” Funny how we always referred to it as her new dog. That does bring back memories though, of the way things seemed before we knew what it was like to actually have a family dog. It really did seem to me like it was Kathryn’s dog. And she is definitely the dog person of the family today. She always has multiple pets in the house.
In our letters back and forth, we took shots at the neighbour George, who was a bit of a punching bag for us. It was well deserved though, George earned every bit mockery we poured into our letters. He crossed the line when he tried to steal Bob’s brother’s bike. He stole Lego from us. He was, honestly kind of a dick back then. So Bob ended his letters with some drawings of himself, me, his new nephew Mike, and George.
Reading these letters today, it’s clear how important our friendship was to both of us back then. For me personally, I looked up to him and needed him by my side as I embarked onto my next journey: highschool! It was too bad that I didn’t have my best friend around for that last summer before highschool, but at least I still have the letters.
Ozzy’s last paint-by-numbers live album was almost two decades ago. In actuality, you really only need a live one with Randy Rhoads and you’re golden. But if you’re in the mood for downtuned Ozzy songs, Live at Budokan might be the way to go.
While the new rhythm section of Mike Bordin (Faith No More) and Rob Trujillo (Metallica) do have a positive impact on the sound, Zakk Wylde is tiring. His constant divebombing all over Randy’s composition “I Don’t Know” just rubs the wrong way. Then it’s an unremarkable song called “That I Never Had” from Down to Earth. The most enjoyable thing about it is actually Zakk’s backing vocal.
Ozzy spaces out old songs with new ones so sleep doesn’t take you too soon. “Believer” is a nice inclusion, since we’ve never had a version of it with Zakk on guitar. There’s a novelty to it for that reason, so it’s notable. A crap new song called “Junkie” acts as filler before “Mr. Crowley”. They used to have an acronym in Star Trek that they would paint on pipes and conduits on the Enterprise: “GNDN”. Goes nowhere, does nothing. That’s “Junkie”. And “Crowley” just drags.
The last of the new songs here is “Gets Me Through”; the single, you know the one. The one with the hilariously unimaginative lyric “I’m not the kind of person you think I am, I’m not the Antichrist or the Iron Man”. We sure do miss Bob Daisley’s lyrical touch. “Gets Me Through” might be the most paint-by-numbers of any Ozzy track since Zakk joined the band.
Get ready for a whole shit-ton of No More Tears stuff, as Ozzy rolls out four of ’em. The title track is still great and doesn’t strain Ozzy as much as the earlier songs. “Mama I’m Coming Home”, well sure, it has its fans. “I Don’t Want to Change the World” is still a yawn and “Road to Nowhere” fares well. The crowd sure loves ’em, those familiar hits. They go nuts for “Crazy Train” which just doesn’t sound right tuned down like this. Same with “Bark at the Moon”. Ozzy closes with the only Sabbath track on the disc, “Paranoid”. The double tracked vocals are obvious and annoyingly artificial sounding. It’s cool hearing the Faith No More style of drumming all over it though. Mike Bordin is a tremendous talent but was he the right guy for Ozzy Osbourne?
As the most unessential of all Ozzy releases, Live at Budokan should really be the last one to add to your collection. If you care, it was available with two covers: red printing, and black printing. For extra pain, you could also go for DVD. Best track: “Believer”.
1979: Ozzy Osbourne walks out on Black Sabbath, the band he has fronted for 10 years. Things almost get physical, and then Ozzy pledges to rule the world on his own. Tony Iommi swears to come out on top, with or without him. Bill Ward looks down, knowing that it is truly time for a change. Geezer Butler doesn’t want to give it up and recommends they call “that Dio-bloke”.
Malibu comics produced a highly fictionalized version of Black Sabbath’s early history in 1994, with stunningly rich artwork and co-written by one Terence “Geezer” Butler himself. Understanding that this is a mixture of fantasy and history, “The Power of Black Sabbath” is a hugely entertaining comic. The basic bones of the Sabbath story are there. The gradeschool rivalry between Ozzy and Tony was real, but Tony never said “Give it up Osbourne, you sing like a girl!” And it doesn’t matter because it makes for a good panel. Meanwhile, a young Terry Butler is visited by a mysterious entity that allows him a brief glimpse at his own future.
As if like fate, the four members of Black Sabbath eventually merge together. Their early history as “Earth” precedes the fame. Dirty managers, “Blue Suede Shows”, and Jethro Tull stories are rolled out panel by panel. “Why did I ever think about leaving Earth?” muses Tony, as a demanding Ian Anderson commands him to play a solo. After another supernatural encounter, they finally settle on the name Black Sabbath.
Album by album their success grows, but they cannot shake their continuing and strange encounters with entities not of this world. By the time of Never Say Die, tensions between Tony and Ozzy result in the temporary hiring of Dave Walker to replace the singer. Ozzy eventually leaves permanently on his own “Crazy Train”. Ending the story here, we learn that Geezer Butler has come to peace with the supernatural side of his life.
But that’s only half the book. There’s still plenty more content of the non-illustrated variety.
An interview with Geezer Butler is about as revealing as ever. Dig these insightful answers:
Q:Tell us about the new album.
A:It’s called Cross Purposes. There are ten tracks on it. We started writing it last February and finished in mid-July. [He then runs down the band lineup.]
To its credit, Geezer claims that this comic is the most accurate portrayal of Black Sabbath to date, though it does include “poetic license”.
Next is a very cool gallery of photos that you couldn’t easily find anywhere in 1994. These include full colour pictures of the Glenn Hughes lineup of Black Sabbath, and versions with Dio, Tony Martin, Vinnie Appice, and Bobby Rondinelli. There are even a couple monochrome photos with Ian Gillan. At the time these were some of the only pictures I owned of the band in these phases.
The next pages feature a discography, full colour with album art, lineups and tracklistings. Included here is a warning not to buy Greatest Hits or Live At Last! “You have an inferior product both in packaging and sound. You are warned!” Screw it, I’m buying Live At Last! The last page is an autobiographical story by editor Robert V. Conte about buying his first Sabbath album Born Again (my favourite). Within two weeks he had most of their records.
I’ve read a few critiques about this book complaining about the overly fictional portrayal of the band’s history. I don’t think it particularly matters. It’s obvious from the supernatural elements that this is not to be taken as gospel (pun intended). The vibrant ink and colours capture the Black Sabbath members perfectly, and each panel is glorious to look at. Not to mention it’s an oversized comic so every page has more bang for the buck. The stylized dialogue keeps the story moving at a good pace, and though the story is but a brief overview, it’s fine for a single issue.
BLACK SABBATH – The Best of MusikLaden – Live at the Beat Club (1970 television performance)
When Black Sabbath released their Black Box in 2004 featuring all the original lineup’s studio albums in remastered form, they also included a bonus four-song DVD. This disc was the oft-released television broadcast of a German show called Beat Club (later MusikLaden). Sabbath made two appearances in 1970, and the Black Box was the most official release of them. Before upgrading to the Black Box, I owned an earlier, unofficial DVD release. I taped that DVD to cassette, and that’s what I’m listening to right now.
“Black Sabbath” is torrential, as intense as the young band was able. Ozzy sounds as if possessed, truly terrified and warning us that something foreboding and terrible is coming. “Paranoid” is strangely echoey and distant, but still as incendiary as 1970 Black Sabbath should be. Interestingly, in this version it really does sound as if Ozzy is singing “end your life” instead of “enjoy life”. A sparse “Iron Man” announces its arrival with evil Gibson guitar sonic bends. This version of “Iron Man” is a little stiffer than others, but not for long. Towards the end, Geezer Butler unleashes the hordes and the song stampedes to a close.
Finally and most notoriously is “Blue Suede Shoes”, a performance pretty much everybody has since disowned. It’s not terrible, although it’s certainly uncharacteristic. It’s as if Black Sabbath were suddenly encroaching upon ZZ Top’s territory. Tony’s speedy solo is interesting if not typical, and the band really stepped it up. I get why some would mock it; it’s kind of goofy and definitely not as impressive as the Sabbath originals. But it’s…fun? Is Sabbath allowed to be…fun?
OZZY OSBOURNE – Ordinary Man (2020 Epic Japanese import)
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.
Here’s a bold statement: I feel that personal rock history is a part of the greater body of work that is the history of the genre. In other words, I think that stories of people like me, buying and listening to rock music, are important components of the greater gestalt. When we publish our stories permanently, they are assimilated into the collective history. Writers like Martin Popoff and Chuck Klosterman are often at their most entertaining when talking about their own tales of childhood musical discovery.
When a memory comes back it can be as vivid as the day it happened, and I try to capture that. The 1991 trilogy (quadrilogy?) has taken a couple months to come together and who knows, there might be another instalment if more memories surface. I won’t lie — it’s been an emotional process! No more tears? Maybe for now!
It’s important for me to recognise somebody who was there on the periphery of all these happenings in 1991. Peter M. Cavan didn’t do things the way the rest of us did. He began working immediately with the goal of becoming an electrical apprentice and eventually an electrician, which he did. He didn’t disappear after highschool. The first time he came to the cottage was in the summer of 1991 and that kicked off a serious friendship and many, many years of cottage trips. Peter worked hard but Peter also played hard, not letting time go by without doing something. Whether it be throwing a ball around, cooking a meal, driving into town to buy fireworks or frisbee at the beach, Peter kept moving.
And Peter’s favourite artist happened to be one of mine: Ozzy Osbourne.
It’s safe to say that No More Tears was one of the biggest albums of 1991 for Pete. When we hung out he always drove. We played the shit out of No More Tears in that car. We always skipped “Mama I’m Coming Home” — always. I didn’t buy my own copy for months because we were listening to it so often. When I did buy No More Tears, it was strange to listen to it without Peter!
Just as I happened to be really ramping up my interest in Black Sabbath, here comes Peter into my life who was also beginning to buy old Black Sabbath. At school, Rob V was teaching me the ins and outs of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple’s discographies. Meanwhile, Peter began travelling to the States a lot for work. Rob V told me of a rare (here anyway) Sabbath track called “Evil Woman”. Peter returned from the US with Black Sabbath’s The Early Years including that very track. I told him he found something special. Today, of course, you can painlessly get all that Sabbath stuff on readily available deluxe editions. You couldn’t back then, if you even knew they existed.
While it is true that life after highschool was lonelier than before, I did have Peter. He was the one guy who never went away. Peter and I went on many adventures in the early 1990s, some of which featured Ozzy or Black Sabbath in the tape deck. Peter is a part of my personal rock history and therefore part of the greater whole. Somewhere out there is a family who wonders to this day why Ozzy Osbourne was yelling “YOU BASTARDS!” at them while Peter and I passed them in our car. It’s because we synched it up that way thinking it would be funny. And it kinda was. We were adults, sort of. He was learning to be an electrician and I was becoming acquainted with the history of 18th century Russia. But we still laughed at fart jokes and blasted the Ozzy because why not? Why do you have to leave that behind?
You don’t. Celebrate your personal rock history and the rich tapestry of memories that comes with it.
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!