Album Review: Ozzy Osbourne - Ordinary Man
Artist: Ozzy Osbourne
Album: Ordinary Man
Review by Rob Garry
I was torn as to whether I should review this album or not. The songs released up until now have, shall we say, not filled me with hope. Even with the Sabbath-esque “Alright now!” at the beginning of “Straight to Hell”, I had checked out by the time we reached the word “defecate”.
Ozzy’s health issues, and recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, are now no longer rumours and whispers. They are now confirmed. Recent interviews show a fragile figure, still coming to terms with the cards he has been dealt. But how can that be?? Surely, Ozzy Osbourne, the man who wrote the book on rock and roll debauchery, the bat biting Alamo pissing madman, the man who has survived himself for almost 50 years, is immortal? Sadly, like the rest of us, he isn’t.
Make no mistake, this album is a farewell, and almost every other lyric reminds you of it. It’s almost impossible to just enjoy the music, when you constantly reminded that our dear Prince of Darkness won’t be around that much longer. “No Ordinary Man”, featuring Elton John, is the perfect example of this in full effect. It does, however, feature a surprisingly very average guitar solo from the usually a right on the money Slash.
My problem from the start is that most of the tracks have an element of something which you do indeed love from Ozzy’s catalogue, yet doesn’t deliver the goods as a complete piece of work. “All My Life” has a “Road to Nowhere” feel to it, and “Goodbye” starts with the promise of an “Iron Man” inspired track, but sadly neither track head anywhere near that territory.
Producer Andrew Watt, the man responsible for this album even being made, has called in some big names to write this album, mainly in the form of Duff McKagan (Guns N Roses) and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Brilliant players, without a doubt, but their selection demand two incredibly relevant questions be asked. One, why were these musicians set the task of writing an entire album from scratch in FOUR days. And secondly, why the hell would you not utilise the Zakk Wylde/Blasko/Tommy Clufetos combination, Ozzy’s touring band for the better part of a decade??! Hell, even leave Blasko and Tommy out of the equation, why not just Zakk, the guy responsible for some of your most classic songs and successful albums? The man who could quite easily write riffs ten times better than anything on this album in his sleep. Plus, it would have been a poetic way to go out on an album co-written with the Ozzy’s last REAL “Guitar Hero” discovery from over 30 years ago. No, Gus G doesn’t count.
The tail end of the album is where the wheels start really start coming off. “Eat Me”, “Scary Little Green Men” and “Holy for Tonight” in a perfect world would simply not exist. One must think too that had this album not had such a ridiculous time frame imposed on it that these songs would never have made the grade.
“It’s A Raid”, featuring Post Malone, is certainly one of the more interesting tracks on the album. Not fantastic, but enough to keep your interest for the whole song, unlike a lot of this album. The question is more WHY is Ozzy doing collaborations with Post Malone? I could be wrong, but I’m quite certain it was not a burning desire of Ozzy’s to work with him. It’s the sort of move orchestrated by Management to gain traction with a different “demographic”. I am all for an artist expanding their range and trying different things, but sadly in this case, it feels like a cheap sales ploy that does more to hurt, not help, Ozzy. And really, what’s to gain from this collaboration? Nothing. One would think that a man who has released some of the best songs ever written, both as a member of the mighty Black Sabbath AND on his own in a stratospheric solo career, would not need to resort to such tactics. And finishing the album with “Take What You Want”, leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.
I so badly wanted to love this album. I really did. I could never fault Ozzy for making this album. In fact, I applaud him, as despite everything he’s now facing, he still showed the strength and determination to make new music. Why? Because, like us, music is what keeps his soul alive and is the best medicine. Is this his best work? Absolutely not. Nowhere near it. Do I wish he went out with a killer album? Of course, I do. We all do.
Ordinary Man is out now via Sony Music Entertainment.