If you look up "Return to form" in the dictionary, you will get the definition of what that phrase means. What, did you think I was gonna do that joke? I could've done but I chose not to. However, that's what this album is. Is it the best Double-O solo album? I dunno. 'Blizzard Of Ozz' was quite spectacular so I guess it's a tie between that album and this one.
Released in 1991, it has an urgency about it which hadn't been heard since the first two solo albums. I guess that after years of rattling around inside an alcohol and drug-fuelled haze, it was time to get back out there and show the people you're not yet past it. This is the second album with Zakk Wylde (Who was skinny and wearing bell-bottoms instead of fat and wearing Hell's Angels apparel) and also the last with Bob Daisley. Things had been brewing between him and the Osbourne management which resulted in a split. Randy Castillo provides the drums and does a stirling job. Other credits include - Lemmy from Motorhead who wrote a few of the songs (In his autobiography, Lemmy claims to have made more money off the four songs he wrote for this album than off Motorhead's at-the-time back catalogue) and Mike Inez, who ended up in Alice In Chains at one point. One of the songs - 'I Don't Wanna Change The World' - even won a grammy! Yup, this album was certainly something special. The rest of the songs all follow the same formula as previous albums (stadium anthems, ballads etc - but with way more conviction than last time).
The first thing you notice about this album is the production - it's crisp, clear and has certainly had a fair few dollars thrown at it. I guess it had to, what with this being pretty much a make-or-break album for Ozzy. This is both a blessing and a curse as it seems the majority of those dollars went into Zakk Wylde's guitar tone. Now I think that ZW is a fantastic guitar player and alongside Dimebag Darrell, Dino Cazares, Bones and the fella who played guitar for White Zombie, ranks as one of my influences and guitar heroes - but his tone is WAAAYYYYY too overproduced! They've tried to go for that heavy-yet-melodic sound, crunch-and-clear. Think of the guitar sound on The Cult album 'Sonic Temple' and you're kinda there. Everything else sounds fine. Bass, drums, keyboards, vocals (Well, as fine as you can get as Ozzy never was the greatest singer) but the guitar tone sounds well out of place. Mind, having said that, it only really affects one of the songs - 'Hellraiser'. As good as this song is, the over-production ruins it somewhat, especially as Motorhead put out a version on their 'March Or Die' album (Lemmy co-wrote 'Hellraiser') which was superior as it wasn't overproduced. The rest of Ozzy's songs?
They're really good. In fact, it's hard to think of a bad one. The worst songs on the album are 'Time After Time' and 'Road To Nowhere' because they're a bit meandering, and 'Zombie Stomp' tries something different with it's almost funk-rock rhythms but doesn't quite work. Thing is, they're still good but are merely £1 coins in a wallet full of £20 notes. 'S.I.N' is perhaps an extremely underrated song. You hear people talk of the best songs from Ozzy's solo years but no-one mentions this one. They should though.
Yes, this is definately a fine Ozzy solo album. The man is probably not gonna recreate anything like this again (he's certainly not gonna recreate the early Sabbath years!) but at least we've got this one. It would've been the perfect album save for being perhaps just a couple of songs too long and overproduction.
9/10 - Almost perfect, almost.
It seems you cannot get this album on iTunes, yet most of his other stuff is freely available. Hmmm...
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