Written By Jason Voorhees
In this week's edition of Top Albums we will cover the Crown Prince of Metal...Ozzy Osbourne. The Prince of Darkness is one of the most iconic figures in heavy metal history. While Ozzy earned his early stripes fronting "Black Sabbath", it was his solo career that truly defined his fame and popularity in the mainstream world.
Over the years; Ozzy Osbourne has enjoyed quite a career while producing a definitive collection of timeless classics. While there have been numerous lineup changes in his band, its always included elite musicianship. There was no better example of this than his unrivaled ability to recruit world class guitar talent. Whether it was the super prodigy Randy Rhoads, or his successor Jake E Lee, to the longest tenured Zakk Wylde; all of these guitarists made it much easier for Ozzy to shine in the spotlight.
Last week we covered Ronnie James Dio, who ironically replaced Ozzy in Black Sabbath. This time we get to take a deep dive into his predecessor's solo career. As we embark on this latest challenge, there is no doubt that this trip down memory lane should be epic. So without further ado...let's take a look at the mind of the Crown Prince as we chronicle the diary of a madman...
11. Scream (2010)
Despite a new refreshing sound, this album unfortunately misses the mark. The departure of Zakk Wylde and less than stellar songwriting doomed this album before it ever began. That's not to say that its a terrible album, but clearly sub standard for the Prince of Darkness. Ozzy had recruited Gus G, previously from Firewind to replace Zakk so there was already huge shoes to fill. Add to that the over dubbed vocal overtones to enhance his lyrics and the album just couldn't live up to the hype. There were however a few winners on the record despite its poor reviews. Standout tracks include 'Let Me Hear You Scream', 'Diggin Me Down' and 'I Want it More.' As stated, not a poor record using an average band metric but certainly not one of Ozzy's finest hours.
10. Black Rain (2007)
Most people call this a black mark in Osbourne's catalog. I would say that "Black Rain" is more like the black sheep. Unfortunately it did mark the end of the road for sensational axe man Zakk Wylde. While the album clearly lacks creativity, it still has flashes of brilliance that only Ozzy can produce. The lead single 'I Don't Wanna Stop' absolutely brings the house down in typical fashion. The title track 'Black Rain' follows the classic formula as well. However; it's hidden gems like '11 Silver' and 'Countdown's Begun' that make this his most underrated album to date. Killer guitar and skillful songwriting. While many go left, Ozzy always goes right. This is an album that really gets better over time. Check it out...you may be pleasantly surprised.
9. Down to Earth (2001)
After producing "Ozzmosis", Ozzy embarked on a short Black Sabbath reunion. When he brought the solo band back together again, he also called upon a panel of collaborators to write the songs. The results was a mixed bag of nuggets and the album quality suffered. Yes, Zakk Wylde was still present on guitar but his unique songwriting style and technique was sadly missing. It's almost like Ozzy forgot the all important formula to making a great record. Nonetheless, the album did enjoy success on the charts as it hit #4 on the US Billboard Top 200. The album was not star exempt as he also recruited Mike Bordin (Faith No More) on drums and Robert Trujillo (Metallica) on bass. Standout tracks include 'Gets Me Through' and 'Running out of Time' as well as the super ballad 'Dreamer.'
8. Ordinary Man (2020)
It's safe to say that the Prince of Darkness has passed his better years. With that being said, this surprise out of nowhere release was his best album in many years. Post Malone's Andrew Watt helped produce the record and the result was nothing less than spectacular. Mr. Osbourne's vocals were the best we have saw since his glory days. The creative juices were flowing once again and the overflow spills into fantastic musicianship. 'Under the Graveyard' is a metal analogy to Ozzy's almost near death experience after leaving Sabbath to his eventual rise again in his solo career. Its a magnificent piece of art and he definitely shocked the world with this one. Kudos to Ozzy for his undying passion for music and this album is that sorta rebirth we've all been waiting for.
7. No Rest For The Wicked (1988)
Ozzy was running wild on this one as he commandeered Zakk Wylde to replace Jake E Lee on the axe. It was a match made in heaven as the band instantly clicked on "No Rest For The Wicked." Wylde brought a more aggressive approach and the songs were more on the edgy side. Likewise, Zakk had a knack for intense songwriting and you could see that expertise crawling out of every tune on the record. The final product was a double platinum masterpiece once again placing Ozzy at the top of the food chain. Many solid hits on this one including "Miracle Man", "Crazy Babies" and "Tattooed Dancer" while housing uncut gems like "Bloodbath in Paradise." This was definitely a better album than it often gets credit for and will always have a special place in every die hard fan's heart.
6. Ozzmosis (1995)
Many people would scoff at this album being so high on the list. However; true metal scholars realize the relevance of this smash hit wonder. It was a tremendous follow up to a predecessor that absolutely screamed gold standard. Although the album continued down the commercial mainstream track, it definitely had spurts of underground flavor. It was a strong mixture of heavy riff balls to the wall energy along with symmetrical melodic ballads with some raw and edgy noise in between. Definitely the most diverse album of Ozzy's career and beloved by even his most harshest critics. The albums lead track "Perry Mason" is an ode to the long lost "Mr. Crowley" while "See You on the Other Side" brought back memories of "Mama I'm Coming Home." Tremendous album by one of the best hands down.
5. Bark At The Moon (1983)
Losing Randy Rhoads would almost certainly spell doom for any other artist but not Ozzy. After Rhoads untimely death, Osbourne tapped Jake E Lee for the lead guitar gig and the rest was history. While Jake showed a bit of a difference in style, his skill would prove to be no flash in the pan. The lead title track may be the best opening track ever on any Ozzy record. Fast, heavy and straight to the point. Even if this was the only track on the album that would gain stardom, the rest of the record proved that Lee belonged to stay. It was a monumental record for the Prince as he showed that it was the music not the personnel that ultimately defined the band. "Center of Eternity" and "Waiting for Darkness" remain the bands most underrated tracks of all-time. Welcome aboard Jake!
4. The Ultimate Sin (1986)
This was an album that has gained more and more credit over time. It's release did not sit well with many of the faithful and did not fair particularly well on the charts. However; mainstream popularity is the last thing that should be measured when rating an album. And that's exactly the case with this one folks. Although the album did not have smash hits on the billboard chart, the record is littered with A list star power when applying the ear test. Tracks like "Secret Loser", "Never Know Why", "Thank God For the Bomb", "Lightning Strikes", "Killer of Giants" and "Shot in the Dark" are all stellar songs both lyrically and stylistically. While "The Ultimate Sin" and "Shot in the Dark" are bookend masterpieces. Zero filler and the tunes are killer. Mark of an excellent album.
3. No More Tears (1991)
This was an extremely tough pick for me as it almost made #2. It could have gone either way but nonetheless here we are. Not much to complain about on this effort. 4x Platinum. A title track that rivals any song in metal. Numerous hidden gems and little to no filter. While the album did still feature that raw energy we had grown accustomed to as Ozzy fans, it also featured the commercialized radio friendly focus that ultimately drove the popularity. The band called upon Lemmy Kilmeister to help produce the record and in doing so channeled their inner Motorhead. The creative aspects on this album are endless and circumventing. The results are priceless. An instant classic that would be any other band's Mount Rushmore...which even furthers the depths of the albums greatness.
2. Diary of A Madman (1981)
This would unfortunately be the swan song for Randy Rhoads who would tragically die one year later. How sweet that final lap was though. Another magnificent record for the Prince of Darkness that would definitely mark a more creative side for the band. Another blistering title track that would even send chills down Alister Crowley. And a lead track to die for in 'Over the Mountain.' It's those subtle sleepers that set this album apart though as another epic effort for the forefather. Randy flexes his muscles on those lesser known classics that truly endow him as a guitar god. However; the solo on the title track is an epic fortress the likes we may never see of again. Wow is all you can say as you gasp in awe. Another true metal album giant.
1. Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
This may be the easiest pick I have ever had to make for top albums. In fact, this album is in my Top 5 heavy metal albums of all-time so rightfully its Ozzy's best ever. The crème de le crème of Osbourne's mountain. A solid metal record from beginning to end. A timeless work of art that even gets better with time. "Crazy Train" may be the best anthem of all-time. "Mr. Crowley" is certainly the most well put together metal song we have ever heard. The list can keep going. Some of the best lyrics ever penned to paper as well; not to mention the super fine artwork. Everything that you could ask for in a debut album, probably the greatest debut album in music history and that's no stretch. Straight up Fire!
Hope you enjoyed this week's edition because we certainly had fun doing so! Ozzy is one of the near and dear figures of the entire metal community and we all adore him like a father!! Excellent catalog and one that will live on forever as we move into the next generation! As we look towards next week, we hope that you are all staying safe and sound in quarantine! And please don't forget...Check out Kevin Law and Johnny E on Thursday evenings 7PM-9PM as they count down all of your favorites from past and present as well as future!! And we leave you with one of Ozzy's classic masterpieces!!!! Rock On Mates!!!!!
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