Album review: Ozzy Osbourne/Randy Rhoads, Tribute (1987)


By Steve Newton

Everybody has their favourite rock guitarists. “Hendrix,” scream some, “Jimi Hendrix rules!” “Page is king,” others argue. “Clapton is God,” says the next person. And then there are people who bow down before Jeff Beck.

Me, I’m a Randy Rhoads kinda guy.

I still remember the first time I heard Rhoads. It was on the car radio in the Sears parkade. They were playing Ozzy‘s first single from his debut solo album, Blizzard of Ozz. The tune was called “Crazy Train”, and it included a solo so wildly intense that I had to agree that–as the DJ informed me afterward–the Fox does (sometimes) rock. It was the most exhilarating bit of amplified noise these ears had ever heard.

So I bought the album. And I played it late at night. And early in the morning. And for lunch. And when Ozzy came to the Kerrisdale Arena I went to see him–even though Motorhead was opening. And now I thank the stars that I actually got to see Randy live, because less than a year later a plane crash stole him away forever.

Not quite forever, though. By some fortunate twist of fate, Ozzy happened to have the tape machines rolling during a few Canadian dates late in 1981. What Ozzy captured then has now been released as a double album, a Tribute to Rhoads’ incredible talent, and it’s a must-have for anyone who’s smiled or shook their head in disbelief at a Rhoads solo.

There are 10 live versions of songs from Ozzy’s first two albums, including “Crazy Train”, “Flying High Again”, “Mr. Crowley”, and “No Bone Movies”. There are also powerful renditions of three tunes from Osbourne’s other band, Black Sabbath.

Probably the most startling track on Tribute, though, is the studio outtake of “Dee”, a classically-laced instrumental that Rhoads wrote for his music-teacher mother Delores. Randy fumbles a few times while tackling the tricky passages (you can hear him go, “Oops”), but when he’s done he tells the control booth, “Let’s hear that”. Thanks to Ozzy, and those fine old tapes, we can too.



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