Ozzy Osbourne Blizzard of Ozz- 1980
RMR Album Rating- 8
Re-energized vocals from Ozzy and some of the greatest and most eclectic metal riffs from new guitarist Randy Rhoads, make Ozzy Osbourne’s debut album “Blizzard of Ozz” an incredible and timeless metal release.
Here’s some quick background information. Ozzy went on Sabbatical from Black Sabbath in 1978 to start working on material for a solo album, which would later become “Blizzard of Ozz”. Ozzy returned to Black Sabbath in 1978 to record and tour for “Never Say Die”. This would be Ozzy’s last album with Sabbath, as he was fired shortly afterward, due to drug use. Being fired from Sabbath was really a blessing in disguise for Ozzy because he would go on to have an extremely successful career in the ‘80’s, where as Sabbath basically foundered through most of the ‘80’s.
Since Ozzy had already done some of the work for the album during his break from Sabbath in 1978, he was basically ready to start recording right away. He just needed a guitarist. So, enter Randy Rhoads. Ozzy is quoted as saying that when Randy Rhoads came on board, it was like “God entering my life”. Rhoads did two things for Ozzy. First, he gave Ozzy his confidence and energy back. Secondly, he provided a guitar sound that was completely unique and very eclectic. This was important because it gave “Blizzard of Ozz” its own sound, and the record didn’t come off sounding like a Sabbath rip off. Randy Rhoads is an amazing guitar player, and I actually like his work better than Tony Iommi’s (Black Sabbath’s guitarist). Rhoads was capable of cranking out incredible and complex metal riffs, but he was also classically trained, and he was a devoted student of the classical guitar, which was his true passion. Ozzy encouraged Rhoads to play however he wanted on “Blizzard of Ozz,” and the best example of this is Rhoads’s solo spot “Dee,” which Randy recorded using two acoustic guitars. He also played each part on each guitar twice, so in total, there are really four guitar parts layered on top of each other, but they are all in perfect sync to just sound like one guitar. “Dee” is an amazing piece of music reminiscent of something Steve Howe from Yes would play (Click here to listen to Dee).
The rest of the album is obviously much heavier, but it sounds completely different than the other metal releases coming out at the time, mainly because of Rhoads’s technique, which Ozzy let guide the album. I will also mention that the album has a timeless feel to, which was definitely a rarity compared to the other metal albums being released at that time. Most of the metal albums coming out in the early 80’s were part of the new wave of British heavy metal (otherwise known as NWOBHM), and many of these albums from bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest sound extremely dated now, where as “Blizzard of Ozz” still sounds very fresh even by today’s standards. In terms of songs, the best track is easily the unconquerable “Crazy Train,” which is one of the greatest metal songs every written, and its guitar sequence basically made Rhoads a superstar overnight (Click here to listen to Crazy Train). The other standouts are “Goodbye to Romance,” “Mr. Crowley,” and the 6-minute epic “Revelation,” which is really a multi-part suite. It starts out slow with great vocals from Ozzy, then there’s a progressive classical piano section in the middle, then the song closes with Rhoads’s heaviest guitar sequence of the album. (click here to listen to Revelation).
Lastly, I’ll mention that this album, and more specifically the track “Suicide Solution,” came under fire in 1986 after a teenager shot himself, and his parents took Ozzy Osbourne to Court, blaming the song for their son’s death (Click here to listen to Suicide Solution). They claimed the song contained hidden messages that encouraged suicide. It was certainly a sad situation, but Ozzy was cleared of all charges. The song is actually about alcohol abuse, and the term “solution” refers to alcohol itself. The song is no way encouraging suicide, and it is actually a tribute to Bon Scott (former AC/DC front man who died of alcoholism).
I don’t want to undermine Ozzy’s contribution to “Blizzard of Ozz” at all because it was Ozzy’s project from the beginning and his vocals are spot on, but all in all, this is really Randy Rhoads’s album. It is his guitar that gives the album such a classic and timeless feel and separates it from the plethora of other metal albums coming out at the same time. “Blizzard” is a definitely a winner, and its massive success put Ozzy back on the map as a capable and successful solo artist.
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