Ozzy Osbourne box the perfect primer for his post-Sabbath period



By Steve Newton

Ozzy Osbourne could easily have gotten away with compiling a bunch of album tracks, tossing in a live concert DVD, and calling it the Prince of Darkness box set. But the pioneering bat-biter evidently wanted to give his hordes of fans something special.

His idea was to release two discs of his solo work–prominently featuring ’80s guitar hero Randy Rhoads and including some previously unreleased demos from the ’90s–a third disc of collaborations, and a fourth of cover tunes. The result is a 52-track collection of classics and rarities that’s the perfect primer for Ozzy’s post-Black Sabbath period.

Musically, the Ozzman never fully recovered from the loss of Rhoads, so he’s smart to include studio and/or live versions of his three greatest songs: “Crazy Train”, “Over the Mountain”, and “Flying High Again”. It was also a good move to avoid any of the live tracks from Speak of the Devil–which sported ex-Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis’s soulless wanking–and go straight to the mid-’80s contributions of Jake E. Lee, who then handed the Ozzy guitar torch to raunch master Zakk Wylde.

The third disc sees Ozzy in the company of everyone from Motorhead to Miss Piggy, from Was Not Was to Type O Negative. Some of the collaborations are a success, such as his hard-funk workout with Infectious Grooves on “Therapy” and, coincidentally, his faithful rendition of “Iron Man” with Therapy?. Others, like Ozzy’s take on the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” with Dweezil Zappa, should have been deleted.

Those who appreciate the legendary wildman’s mellower side should enjoy his cover, on Disc 4, of the Beatles’ poignant “In My Life”, and his duet with daughter Kelly on the Black Sabbath ballad “Changes”. I was more taken by his version of Mountain’s cowbell-driven “Mississippi Queen”–with guitar solo by Leslie West–and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”.

Now there’s a tune that’s even more Sabbath than Sabbath!

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