FFO: Heavy metal; rock
The announcement of Ozzy Osbourne having Parkinson’s disease surely is tough on family, friends and fans. But Ozzy is coping. Rolling Stone reports the heavy metal legend “Cannot wait to get back on the road.” Meanwhile, life goes on with two tracks from Ordinary Man, the Prince Of Darkness’s first solo album in ten years. The songs – the title cut and “Straight to Hell”— present two different sides of the same artist.
At first, the Ozzy Osbourne-Elton John teaming during “Ordinary Man” did not seem farfetched at all, considering the beautiful piano melody of Black Sabbath Vol. 4’s “Changes.” Notwithstanding the chart success with Post Malone, Ozzy going back to a keyboard mood was a logical idea in trying to rationalize why the “Killing Yourself To Live” singer would join forces with piano-driven mainstream pop rocker Sir Elton. But that whole premise fell apart after listening to the forthcoming solo album’s title track. Released Jan. 10, 2020, despite special guest Slash’s towering upper register guitar leads, with all due respect, “Ordinary Man” lacks the sinister conviction and taboo side of Ozzy’s one-of-a-kind musicianship.
At one point during Ozzy’s growing career, parents of teens were known to forbid Black Sabbath albums from entering their homes. That was probably due to the devil references in the lyrics and often the cover art, including the band’s debut collection and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Solo, the Oz man has previously created exciting songs with an air of something just not being right, like “Crazy Train.” Osbourne has always surrounded himself with great musicians, among them Randy Rhodes and Zak Wild, so recording with EJ might sound good on paper. The expertise of all the terrific players is clearly there on the recording, but just not the sinfulness.
On the other hand, “Straight To Hell,” released in November 2019, restores the murky playing-without-a-full-deck Ozzy that fans have come to know. The accompanying official YouTube video, published Jan. 6, 2020, adds a degree of contemporary depravity portrayed as angry throngs running wild in the streets. For old-time sake, Ozzy throws in a Black Sabbath-ish “All right now.” Coming from Osbourne, lyrics ring with danger and cult-like corruptibility. Rhythmic high gain fret work adds turmoil to an already tumultuous sound. Everything works in restoring Ozzy’s bad boy persona.
Though it may sound somewhat confusing, listening to “Straight to Hell” felt reassuring, where “Ordinary Man” did not have the same effect. The lead single, “Under the Graveyard,” which also came out in November, has a particular self-awareness first cultivated with Sabbath, but not so much the Prince of Darkness. Ordinary Man, the 12th solo album from Ozzy Osbourne, is available Feb. 21, 2020.
Paul Wolfle, the publisher of musicinterviewmagazine.com, is a web-based journalist who has written for several popular sites. Paul has a passion for connecting with a diversity of musicians who are looking to grow a positive presence on the World Wide Web.