The Miracles of an Ordinary Man
Ozzy Osbourne Album Review
by Boris Lee
When I heard Ozzy was releasing a new album and going on tour after claiming his previous tour was the true “No More Tours” tour, I was not behind the Prince of Darkness’ latest release. It sounded like one last cash grab to me, and though I understand the reasoning in our elder metal masters doing such things, I just don’t get behind the dishonest marketing that goes into such campaigns. Post Malone being a part of the twenty-nineteen press surrounding Ozzy had me cringing too. Those were my thoughts BEFORE I listened to the latest release from the Godfather of Heavy Metal.
The late eighties, Queens New York:
Sam Goody Records was tucked away inside TSS, later K-Mart, on Metropolitan Avenue. I remember going there and looking over the massive metal music cassette tape selection regularly. It would be at this record store where I purchased many of my tapes and all of my Ozzy Osbourne cassettes. I recall when I purchased the Tribute to Randy Rhoads, Blizzard of Ozz, and Just say Ozzy in the span of a few weeks. Those albums were among the half-dozen that would receive the most play in my music rotation, driving my mother into annoyance, and converting my non-metalhead friends into pit slamming goofs.
Like many of my metalhead brethren, Ozzy’s music connected with me on all levels. His music was creatively inspirational, drove me to want to learn to sing (and do so poorly at the time), and for me was the connection between English horror imagery and music (right, I’m a fan of classic English horror, should have mentioned that earlier). The album covers from the first three Ozzy solo records all put images of Hammer and Amicus films into my mind as songs like, Bark at the Moon and Diary of a Madman played, the latter being my favorite Ozzy song of all time. Ozzy’s solo career music got me through so many depressions and teenage tribulations, and as an adult brought nostalgic notoriety. He is probably owed royalties for my therapy.
Let’s face facts, Ozzy’s music was never the greatest in composition, but the energy in his music connected with so many of us, Ozzy got a free pass on his less desirable tunes. Ozzy has proven time after time, he’s an ordinary man with an extraordinary heart for giving his fans what they love, and putting a piece of his soul into everything we hear.
That’s precisely what the Prince of Darkness does on his latest release, Ordinary Man. Though the album is by far Ozzy’s most commercial feeling release of his career, arguably the album carries the most soul Ozzy has put into his music since Diary of a Madman.
Ordinary Man is not your ordinary Ozzy record. The album boasts excellent musicianship from Duff McKagan (Guns-N-Roses, Velvet Revolver, Hollywood Vampires) on bass, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on drums, and fellow native New Yorker, guitarist Andrew Watt (California Breed, Post Malone). Guest appearances from Slash, Elton John and Post Malone, flare out the creative cacophony.
With what we have read and heard about Ozzy’s health over the past year, it stands to say Ozzy took this as possibly his last opportunity to turn out tunes before he really has to call it the end for real. The energy conveyed by Ozzy’s performance throughout the album is nothing short of a nostalgic reflection on the roads he has traveled in life, both creatively and realistically.
Ozzy has the formula down for autobiographical music, and Ordinary Man is his strongest showing for such symphonic stories since his earliest solo works. “All My Life,” “Under the Graveyard,” “Holy for Tonight,” and the title track “Ordinary Man,” are all solid chronicles that fall in with Ozzy classics like, “Rock-n-Roll Rebel,” “Road to Nowhere,” “See You on The Other Side” and “Diary of a Madman.”
Musically and lyrically, Ordinary Man comes full circle creatively for Ozzy. Andrew Watts guitar riffs are simple, heavy and melodic, ala Tony Iommi, with a Millennial Metal magic cast upon them. Duff and Chad fit together like Geezer Butler and Bill Ward once did, strengthening the music. Ozzy’s vocal styling is more on point with what he sounded like in his earliest days with Black Sabbath and even Sabbath’s final release 13, than the majority of his solo career crooning. That is not to say Ordinary Man is Ozzy creating a modern Sabbath album, as it’s not. Sabbath did that with 13, and Ordinary Man is a solo Osbourne album on all counts.
Post Malone… who the f*ck is Post Malone? I had to Google him and my greatest fears about who or what he was were confirmed. A Millennial pop and rap star. His style of music will never end up in my iTunes shuffle rotation, however, Post Malone is a talented artist in his genre of music. His teaming with Ozzy on his own song “Take What You Want” and Ozzy’s “It’s a Raid” work. The cross genre attempt fits like a puzzle piece with the rest of the music on Ordinary Man.
Is this Ozzy’s best album ever? No. Is it his worst? No. Ordinary Man is what it needs to be, and that is a modern feeling record from an elder icon in the metal music world.
Ozzy is the Godfather of Heavy Metal. Without Ozzy, be it fronting Black Sabbath, or his solo career work, we would not have metal music. Who else would ANY of us metalheads put ahead of Ozzy as being the most iconic metal artist of all time? I can think of plenty of better vocalists than Ozzy, but those vocalists would not have had metal music to create if Ozzy was not there before them.
As a mediocre music critic, I could delve deeper into the creative craftsmanship of Ordinary Man. As a fan of Ozzy’s music since my first hearing “Crazy Train” in the early eighties, I don’t want to. Ordinary Man carries all the energy Ozzy ever did on his greatest hits throughout the years. From fun loving, to revenge romps, to heart felt homages to his life, all that feeling is on this album. Ordinary Man shows Ozzy’s creative capabilities go far beyond what we would expect at this point in his career and take both Ozzy and the fans back to where it all began for him musically. The Madman Meets Millennial Metal.. and he mastered it into his own monster.
There is little doubt in my mind reading between the sheet music lines and picking up on the energy Ozzy shares on Ordinary Man, this is the Godfather of Metal Music’s curtain call. Though I was a fan of Ozzy’s previous studio release Scream, it did not feel like a final record from Ozzy. It was not the album to say goodbye with. Ordinary Man feels like the album Ozzy needed to release to close the book on his storied career with a proper final bow to all his fans. That’s not a morbid message by any means. It’s an all too possible reality that we as fans should be ready for, and smile about.
As a lifetime fan, and speaking for what I think would be just about every metalhead walking this planet today, thank you Ozzy for sharing your insanity with us through your music. There are more of us out there that made it through our teen years thanks to your music than you may realize. There are more of us middle-aged maniacs that listen to your music and it’s like a shot of adrenaline to our lives keeping us moshing on more than you may realize.
From me and the Metal Music world, thank you Ozzy, we all love you.
I give Ordinary Man 5 out of 5 raised horns. It’s the album that makes the most sense for Ozzy to end his career with.
To learn more about Ozzy Osbourne… Google him. There is so much history to the Madman’s career that sharing a few links would not do him the justice he deserves.