Sunday, June 5, 2011

Somewhere Back In Time

Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman reissues

Epic/Legacy Records 2011

My fellow Bangers, take a trip with me now back to the mythic year of 2002. In that year Ozzy Osbourne released “remastered” and expanded editions of his back catalog. The Metal Blog of Metal strolled into the record shop and eagerly snapped up both Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman. Blizzard included the rare B-side “You Looking at Me, Looking at You” so it was a must purchase even though Blizzard and Diary were already in The Metal Blog of Metal’s extensive vaults.

Upon reaching home, Blizzard was quickly slapped into the CD player and horror ensued. “What the hell is up with the bass and drum tracks?” exclaimed I. Well, it turns out that the perfidious Sharon Osbourne had been at work behind the scenes and these two classic albums had been irrevocably destroyed.

A close reading of the liner notes revealed the following: “Original album produced and performed by Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake and Don Airey" but a little further down in the liner notes it said, “Reissue Information – Performed by Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, Robert Trujillo, and Mike Bordin.” WHAT THE FUCK???!!!!! Those assclowns re-recorded the drum and bass parts to avoid having to pay royalties to Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake who at the time were suing Ozzy for unpaid royalties. Unimaginable! This is from the same crew that is always yammering on about the sacred memory of Randy Rhoads. They felt no guilt over destroying Randy’s art though - so much for his fucking memory.

To make matters worse, Sharon said at the time that these were the preferred versions of Blizzard and Diary and that the fans wanted to hear updated versions. She most likely said this as she was shoveling another forkful of fresh baby arms into her gaping maw in her lair down in the sixth ring of hell. Poor, bumbling Ozzy was, as usual, creaking about unable to control his harridan of a wife. The Metal Blog of Metal retained the 2002 version of Blizzard so as to have the bonus track, “You Looking at Me, Looking at You.” Even that was suspect as it was unclear whose bass and drum tracks were on it.

Well my friends, finally this injustice has been righted and Blizzard and Diary have been reissued by Epic Records with restored bass and drum tracks as well as remastered sound, bonus tracks, and in the case of Blizzard, an entire bonus disc of live material from the Randy Rhoads era. The remastering job is very nice with crystal clear sound. Daisley’s, Kerslake’s and Airey’s contributions can all be clearly heard.

Blizzard Of Ozz features three bonus tracks, the first of which is the aforementioned “You Looking At Me, Looking At You.” This was originally released as the B-side to the “Crazy Train” single in both the UK and France. It’s quite a good track and stands up to any of the other material from Blizzard Of Ozz. The next bonus track is ”Goodbye To Romance (2010 Guitar and Vocal Mix)” which is merely the guitars and vocals from “Goodbye To Romance” isolated. It’s actually quite an interesting track as it turns that song into a nice little ballad.

Finally the last track is entitled simply “RR” and is a Randy Rhoads guitar solo outtake that is very good. It’s really great to hear Randy just playing around on the guitar and is a great example of the man’s mastery of the instrument. The CD booklet also includes some new photos and full lyrics to everything but “You Looking At Me, Looking At You.” This is the definitive edition of this album that everyone has been waiting for.

Diary Of A Madman comes housed in a tri-fold digipak with a plastic slipcase marked Legacy Edition. Again the original bass and drum tracks have been restored along with the same great remastering as heard on Blizzard Of Ozz. There are no bonus tracks to the original album but rather an entire bonus disc entitled Ozzy Live that consists of tracks recorded on the Blizzard Of Ozz tour.

We do get the usual Blizzard Of Ozz tracks such as “I Don’t Know,” “Mr. Crowley,” and “Crazy Train” but we also get two Diary Of A Madman tracks in “Flying High Again” and “Believer.” Ending the set are three Black Sabbath tracks, “Iron Man,” “Children Of The Grave,” and “Paranoid.” All in all it’s a nice collection of live tunes presented as a single concert rather than individual tracks that fade out a la AC/DC LIVE. Finally, the booklet is lavishly illustrated with photos and has the lyrics to everything.

The only missed opportunity is the failure to include the track “You Said It All” from the Live E.P. that was issued in 1980. To the best of my knowledge there is no studio version of this song. The Metal Blog Of Metal has this track in its collection on a bootleg Ozzy rarities collection called Live, Rare & Evil.

There is also a Blizzard Of Ozz / Diary Of A Madman 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition that is a box set of both albums on CD as well as both albums on 180 gram vinyl, a DVD entitled Thirty Years After The Blizzard, a 100 page coffee table book, a poster, and a replica of Ozzy’s cross (yawn). The Metal Blog Of Metal will be reviewing this set in the future with full photographs of the contents and a breakdown of the DVD.


The Bottom Line: Finally the definitive editions of these two cornerstones of heavy metal have received the treatment they deserve. Blizzard is really nice but Diary is essential because of the live album. Get both and enjoy a trip back in time to when Ozzy really was the Prince of Darkness.


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