ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 8, 2001
By Steve Newton
Having seen Ozzy Osbourne perform so terribly in concert over the years—out of tune, out of breath, and generally just out of it—I’m always surprised by how competently he sings in the studio. Maybe he just tries harder when the tape is rolling; perhaps he’s motivated by the potential ka-ching! of record-store cash registers.
At any rate, the 52-year-old metal maniac is in fine vocal form throughout Down to Earth, his lucky 13th studio release.
Reunited with “No More Tears” cowriter Zakk Wylde on scorched-earth guitar, Ozzy kicks things off with “Gets Me Through”, a so-so number in the bulldozing style of his former band, Black Sabbath. He follows it up with the better “Facing Hell”, an anthemic ear buster sure to please testosterone-fuelled air punchers.
Then the former bat biter gets all gentle with “Dreamer”, a swaying, piano ’n’ strings–drenched ballad that brings to mind mid-’80s ELO, and you know that can’t be good. Fortunately—apart from the pretty one-minute ditty “You Know…(Part 1)”—Ozzy leaves the wimpy stuff behind to focus on the high-voltage metal he’s known for.
The hell-raising music on Down to Earth will come as no surprise to Ozzy devotees; what might are the CD’s wacky liner notes, wherein he sucks up to Sony Music honcho Tommy Mottola and some guy named Colin Newman. “Your breath is like a morning breeze,” gushes Ozzy. “Your complexion is like milk and honey… I’ve never felt so close to another man… and I’m not gay!”
Sure you aren’t, Ozzy, sure you aren’t. What’s with all the eyeliner, then?