Ozzy Osbourne – “Ordinary Man”
Label: Epic Records
Review: Dawn Osborne
The main thing I have to say about this record is that it is as authentic an Ozzy record that Ozzy could make. Whatever you think of the final track that rekindled Ozzy’s interest in making a new record ‘Take What You Want’ (the prince of darkness meets LL Cool J) for me it is a blessing that it led to him making this album and apparently planning another. Also what is different about Ozzy now to Ozzy then is that he has become a mainstream figure recognized by Presidents and corner shop assistants alike and that is inevitably gonna have an effect on his output and lead to stuff like grandiloquent collaborations with people like Elton John. If Ozzy is one thing he is honest and this represents quite simply who he has become. In fact, most of the album is not that different to what he has done before minus the doom laden guitar of Tony Iommi. Hey Ozzy is 70 and he is fighting Parkinson’s and it’s still way more feisty than most people 20 years his junior could create. Collaborations with guitarists like Slash add an edge when required and people who have criticized the album simply fail to understand Ozzy for who he is.
Single ‘Straight to Hell’ opens with a church like choir sound, Ozzy famously wears a cross and his current illness must have him thinking about his own mortality, but the subject of drugs with the track’s raucous sound and its video which features civil unrest has universal application and the world going to hell is a 2020 preoccupation. The horror film style commentary and backing vocals combined with searing guitar create an atmosphere of fear and panic and intensity which is very now. The success of the single shows that Ozzy struck a chord and has produced a highly relevant record for all ages.
‘All My Life’ is a reflective song as Ozzy looks back at what he has achieved and although slow and melodic to start, it’s no secret that Ozzy loves the Beatles and the fact that he may have played a part in inventing heavy metal and being branded a satanist may just have been an accident of history, but it ends with blistering guitar which is anything but tame. ‘Goodbye’ starts with a mechanical, ‘Iron Man’ like voice and is dreamlike and doom laden with a long frenetic passage devoted to guitar and a climactic end albeit with a bit of dark British humour inquiring if tea is served in heaven.
‘Under the Graveyard’ also addresses the topic of death which none of us like to think about, uncompromising and full of brutal realism, it still rocks out hard enough to make you glad to be alive and able to look reality in its face with defiance and perhaps a devil may care attitude. ‘Eat Me’ start with some trademark Ozzy harmonica and goes into more Black Sabbath territory albeit with an anxiety ridden guitar solo which adds another dimension. ‘Today Is The End’ has an apocalyptic feel, of course, so did a lot of Black Sabbath created under the shadow of the nuclear threat. After all, looking on the dark side is, of course, another Ozzy trademark. ‘Scary Little Green Men’ is for me one of the best tracks on the album with an infectious chorus, it reminds me conceptually of ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ tackling subjects of fear, hallucinogens and mental illness in one fell swoop.
This album shows that Ozzy has not stopped rocking out he just wants to mix up the flavours (his ADHD is well known). Anything that gives him a renewed interest in creating and producing new music and, perhaps, getting well and touring again if a little more modestly than before, is ok by me. And while Ozzy meets Rap or Ozzy meets Elton might not be everybody’s cup of tea if there’s one thing Ozzy has always done is please his fans and be true to himself. As I said if he was not doing that it simply wouldn’t be extra-ordinary Ozzy.