quality control

REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Ultimate Live Ozzy (picture disc EP)

Welcome to the third WEEK OF SINGLES!  Once again, we’ll be looking at singles and EPs all week.  Up first is a really odd one.

Click here to see directories for the last two installments:  The Week of Singles, and the Week of Singles 2.

OZZY OSBOURNE – Ultimate Live Ozzy (1986 CBS picture 12″ record)

T-Rev bought this for me a year or two ago, God knows where he found it!  All I know is that one day I got a text from him saying, “Mikey, Ultimate Live Ozzy picture disc, do you need it?”  I obviously said yes,  I didn’t care what it was exactly.  I figured it was probably live cuts from The Ultimate Ozzy home video release.  I know that Ozzy picture discs go for crazy amounts of money at record shows, and this one was affordably priced.

Picture discs don’t sound the best, and this one even has a label on the front warning the consumer of this fact.  Unfortunately my plastic sleeve isn’t in the greatest shape, although the record is absolutely perfect.  I love the way the turntable spindle sticks out of Ozzy’s tongue on one side.  The other side has a picture of Ozzy and guitarist Jake E. Lee with the girl from The Ultimate Sin album cover.  Jake’s taking a bite out of her bum.

Here’s the weird thing.  Even though the label clearly states these are live versions from Kansas City in 1986 (the Ultimate Ozzy video shoot), there are no live songs.  There are three tracks per side, and both sides are identical.  They contain the studio versions of “The Ultimate Sin”, “Never Know Why”, and “Thank God for the Bomb”.  The studio versions — not live versions!  Somebody screwed up somewhere; you have to assume one side was meant to have the live tracks, and the other the studio counterparts.  Information is scarce, except that there are multiple reports of the same issue for this picture disc on the web.

Thankfully, the three missing live tracks are on the Prince of Darkness box set.   It’s always nice to get some live Ozzy stuff with Jake E. Lee, since it’s so rare to find.  Randy Castillo (R.I.P.) is on drums, and like him or not, he has a signature style that he utilized with Ozzy.  I enjoy his drumming.  The live versions are more keyboard heavy than the studio counterparts.  I enjoy Jake’s echoey guitar intro to “Thank God for the Bomb” which sounds cool live.

I’d love to know if these three live tracks were actually released on vinyl at all in 1986.  Prince of Darkness was released in 2005; that’s a long time to wait to finally get the tracks in an audio format!  I do have the Ultimate Ozzy video on VHS, but it has never been released on an official DVD.  Knowing of Ozzy’s loathing for this period, I wonder if it ever will be.  I doubt it.  It’s too bad, because some have a fondness for The Ultimate Sin and its songs.

If this picture disc had contained the live tracks it was supposed to, I’d give it 4/5 stars.  However, for a screwup this colossal:

0/5 stars.  At least it looks cool.

Final note:  When originally released, this disc came with postcards and a poster.  I have neither.


REVIEW: KISS – Destroyer (Resurrected) replacement CD

My original Kiss – Destroyer (Resurrected) review can be found here.

SAM_0347KISS – Destroyer (Resurrected) (2012 Universal, replacement CD)

Good day, loyal LeBrain readers.

Back in 2012, Scott your Heavy Metal OverloRd informed me of a flaw in Kiss’ Destroyer (Resurrected) CD.  As he noted then, on the song “Flaming Youth”, there seemed to be a skip or some music missing: “It’s only about 4 seconds in just before Paul sings ‘Whoa Yeah’. It’s like there’s a half beat missing or something.”

When I noticed what he was talking about, it did effect my enjoyment of the CD. Once you hear it, you cannot un-hear it. I haven’t played Resurrected much in the last year and a half. Even iTunes downloads were affected by the flaw.

Then, recently, Scott informed me that Universal were replacing defective CDs for those who bought them. I didn’t realize this, in fact I read nothing about it on the numerous rock sites I read daily. Scott found a contact email for a gentleman at Universal who was in charge of the replacement CDs. I contacted him, and he responded to me within 24 hours with instructions to provide a proof of purchase, which I also did. He then told me he would send out the replacement CD as soon as possible. No fuss, no muss!

I received my replacement copy today. I was surprised to see that Universal sent me not just a CD (as sometimes is the case) but a sealed CD in jewel case. This replacement copy was obviously different as soon as I popped into my computer: the track time of “Flaming Youth” is 3:00 instead of 2:59…and the skip is gone!

I’m enjoying revisiting Destroyer (Resurrected). It is less glaringly different sounding now than it was a year and a half ago. I think I’m actually enjoying it more, for what it is. I’m also enjoying the booklet and liner notes (by Bob Ezrin) once again.  Now that I finally have a copy without that annoying flaw, I think this will become the version of Destroyer that I listen to most.  The reason is, after enjoying the original Destroyer for decades, this sounds fresh and surprising to my aged ears.  When you listen to music that you know and love, you expect every note and every sound exactly as they always have been.  When an album gets a subtle facelift like this, the songs continually surprise me.  Every time I notice a difference, it forces me to pay attention.  When it’s a bad remix, that’s annoying.  When it’s a good remix, it’s enjoyable.

One final note:  Universal sent me an American pressing, and it is very different looking than my old Canadian version!  I don’t know if the design of the CD art was changed specifically for the “fixed” pressing, or if all American pressings have always looked like this.  Where previously I had a silver CD with a Casablanca logo and designed to look like an old LP, this version has a black CD — both sides!  The Casablanca logo is still there, but the design is otherwise different.   Instead of silver artwork with faux-LP grooves, it’s a plain black disc.  It’s uber-cool looking and I like it a lot.

Revised score:  3.5/5 stars

And thanks to Aaron at Universal