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Ozzy Osbourne - Ordinary Man

Ozzy Osbourne
Ordinary Man
by Chris Hawkins at 03 March 2020, 2:23 PM

Driving home today, the importance of this review truly hit me while listening to the radio.  The drab routine of venturing out to run errands was instantly erased as the familiar chords of “Flyin’ High Again” came across the radio.  Decades after its release, it is still a timeless classic penned by Ozzy and then-main axe man Randy Rhoads.  Opinions regarding who the best guitar player of all time is vary widely across the spectrum of music fans and musicians, but as both a fan and a player, Rhoads has always topped my list. His blending of huge Metal riffs with classically-influenced tendencies truly set the bar high for all who would follow and further cemented his legacy as a pioneer – after Rhoads’s untimely death, he was followed by a veritable who’s-who of virtuosic guitarists including Brad Gills, Jake E. Lee, and of course, Zakk Wylde.  Now, though, Ozzy is back with a new band and the prestigiously coveted guitar position is now occupied by one Andrew Watt.

Who is Andrew WattWatt is a twenty-nine-year-old guitarist born the year “Paranoid” turned two decades old who has played with THE ROOTS, as a solo artist opening shows for JANE’S ADDICTION and THE CULT, but most prominently as the producer behind the success of POST MALONE and CARDI B.  Rounded out by Duff McKagan on bass and Chad Smith from RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS on drums, the band backing Ozzy has never sounded as commercially driven as now.  The last few albums the Prince of Darkness has released became increasingly lackluster, the last great one being ‘95’s “Ozzmosis,” now a quarter of a century old.  This new album seems to be a cash grab evidenced by the two final tracks featuring POST MALONE.  In a desperate attempt for greater commercial viability, the man who helped invent Heavy Metal has aligned himself with a flash in the pan for in decades, will anyone truly remember POST MALONE for his musical contributions to the world?  Anywhere close to Ozzy or SABBATH?  The obvious answer is no and emphatically so.

The album begins with the track “Straight to Hell,” and it is hard not to get the impression that this is a parody.  First, the guitar tone is about as trendy as can be currently, a very fuzz-oriented affair that is less Iommi-influenced that it is a “safe” tone, modern, and trendy.  The lyrics are beyond laughable, “Ill make you scream.  I’ll make you defecate.”  If one’s ears perk up at the solo in this first track causing one to think, “hey, this Andrew Watt has some licks,” well, think again.  Slash plays the solo.   He also plays the solo in the fourth and title track, while Tom Morello plays on the eighth track, “Scary Little Green Men”.  Thus, it seems a bit deceptive to depict Watt as the lone guitar muscle behind the album.

This is followed by the slightly more tolerable “All My Life” which does include a stronger bass presence by Duff.  The solos such as in this song, are “safe” as well.  Watt may be a competent guitar player but not an acrobatic virtuoso, the type employed by Ozzy throughout the span of his career.  The third track, “Goodbye," is an improvement, but overall, it is hard to get over the overhaul done on this legend’s sound – all for the glory of the dollar.  Thanks, Sharon.

The production on the album is not terrible.  Rather, it is a symptom, not the entire disease.  It is a glorification of what talking heads deem sellable and marketable particularly to the younger generation whose ears have been polluted by the effects of auto-tune and horrid Pop music, much of which perpetuated by WattDuff’s bass is the one highlight as it is allowed to experiment with a dirtier sound than we are used to hearing which really helps his low end to stand out.  As always in his career, McKagan inserts some interesting runs here and there.  Rounding out the rhythm section, Smith’s drums are lively and full, but even with the help of these two legends, the material is just not up to the standards of even some of Ozzy’s not-so-great albums.

Many will proclaim my words to be those of a biased, angry fan, and they are right.  I’m biased as the kid who wrote Ozzy on his knuckles in Junior High, learned countless SABBATH songs growing up, and saw myriad live shows beginning with ‘92’s “No More Tours Tour”.  The routine of feigned retirement and comebacks only became disdainful after we witnessed Osborne’s media exploitation at the hands of his wife on his reality show.  I wanted to like the album.  I had hopes for the title track, a duet with ELTON JOHN, but even that song falls considerably short of the mark.  Across media, though, this album has received glorious reviews, particularly in mainstream outlets which helps to further my point.  When in Ozzy's career has he ever pandered to the likes of Rolling Stone?  At the end of the day, though, none of us should be truly surprised at this outcome as Mrs. Osbourne has perpetuated her own brand across media.  Thus, can we really be mad at Ozzy?  Yes, but not as much as at Sharon.  In effect, she has become the Metal community’s Yoko Ono, the scapegoat.  Her role as the voice of reason for this man has now been expanded over the years to today where she holds all the cards.

Songwriting: 5
Originality: 5
Memorability: 5
Production: 4

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Straight to Hell
2. All My Life
3. Goodbye
4. Ordinary Man (featuring Elton John)
5. Under the Graveyard
6. Eat Me
7. Today is the End
8. Scary Little Green Men
9. Holy for Tonight
10. It’s a Raid (featuring Post Malone)
11. Take What You Want (featuring Post Malone)
Lineup:
Ozzy Osborne - Vocals
Andrew Watt – Guitars
Duff McKagan - Bass
Chad Smith – Drums
Record Label: Sony Music
     


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Edited 25 September 2020
 

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