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Ozzy Osbourne: Ordinary Man – Album Review

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published March 6th 2020
The Man from Black (Sabbath) is Back
Sometimes it is good to get an album from an old favourite, have expectations, play it and get exactly what you were expecting and – let's be honest – hoping for. Sure, it's great when an artist goes off in a different direction and the results are really good, but when you slip on the music and it fits like a pair of battered old slippers, and it is just so comfortable and comforting…. that is so nice.

And so we have Ordinary Man by Ozzy Osbourne (2020).
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This is a hard-rocking Ozzy album. You know what you're going to get. But he does not rest on his laurels, as can be seen by the collaborators he works with on a few songs. It is a throwback to the past but with one eye on the here and now. It is an interesting album for that, and one of his better releases in a long time. There is no 'Crazy Train' stand-out classic song, but by the same token, there are no real cringe-worthy songs either (bar one, but that's a bonus and not really his… you'll see).

And, yes, after Grimes, I am back on familiar territory.

Anyway, this is an Ozzy Osbourne album. And for all his recent health issues, it is good to hear him on CD again. Let's listen to the album!

'Straight To Hell' Opening with a burst of a choir, then into the guitars, an "All right now!" and we are in familiar territory. This is a Black Sabbath-like, with a bit of the Steinman-esque choral flourishes and lyrics taken out of a book of Satanism clichés. This is the Ozzy of old, in every aspect, and it is all the better for it.

'All My Life' This is a slower song, with acoustic guitar pieces, and a lyric that seems to be about living on in the face of whatever he's facing, Not the best song on the album, but still not a bad one by a long way.

'Goodbye' This is a bleak song, with the slow metal sound and lyrics of impending end bringing forth a sound few do better. And then there are two bridges that lift everything up, offering hope in the midst of depression. It is quite the departure from the downer that it starts and finishes with, and speaks to the greater themes of the album – celebrating a life lived.

'Ordinary Man' The first of our guests appear on this track, as Elton John plays piano and shares singing duties while Slash makes a guest guitar solo appearance. A track looking back on their careers, fame, the downsides that came with it… however, '"…the truth is I don't wanna die an ordinary man…" This is a stunning song, and very much the best song on the album. I was impressed with how well their voices meshed. Reminiscent of Osbourne's magnificent duet with Lita Ford ('Close My Eyes Forever'), this is so, so good.

'Under The Graveyard' Back to the Ozzy we know, with another depressing song about his imminent demise with more bleakness – "…we all die alone…" – and also rejecting the things he had done in his younger years. Back to the Ozzy of old, this is another album highlight.

'Eat Me' Starting with a decent guitar, then into a heavy rhythm line, this song did not do a real lot for me. And while the lyrics, about cannibalism (autophagous desire, to be technical), are undoubtedly a metaphor for something, the meaning was lost on me. The closest I could come to was drug addiction, but that is a guess on my part.

'Today Is The End' Another depressing song, but tackling an issue that is unfortunately prevalent in US society – mass shootings. "They kill and we give them fame/ So tell me who is to blame?" But the mention of children running makes me think it's even more specific than that – school shootings. And the music suits the theme. A really good song here.

'Scary Little Green Men' This song is about what the title says – aliens. Just a bit of harmless, throwaway rock, really. Nothing great, not offensive. The music is fine. But… it's about aliens. Completely bonkers. Maybe that's why I keep on listening to it…

'Holy For Tonight' Standard heavy metal track, and unfortunately one of the least ones on this set. Just there, really. Having said that, the addition of the female backing singers on the chorus is a nice touch.

'It's A Raid' This one features Post Malone. This is also probably the best song I have heard Post Malone appear on. This is a straight-ahead rock song with no let-up. What a way to end the album!

Unfortunately, there is a bonus track.

'Take What You Want' This was apparently originally featured on Post Malone's album, and as well as Ozzy, has Travis Scott on it. This stands out like a fully kitted-out cricket player in a ruby match. With autotuned vocals, synth drums and a tinny guitar, it is not a good way to finish this. While this might have been the first song, and inspired Ozzy, it should have remained on Post Malone's album and not sullied this one.

And there you have it! In general, this is a fine return to form for the 70-plus-year-old Osbourne. He has promised another new album later on this year; much like Peter Frampton, he knows his recording days are numbered and wants to get the most out of life before it ends. In Ozzy's case, he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

I said at the start there is no 'Crazy Train'. But I think the title track 'Ordinary Man' may well be the self-written epitaph that we will all remember after he has gone.

Fine album indeed.
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Slash and Elton playing together?
by May Cross (score: 3|8260) 1112 days ago
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