Ozzy Osbourne / Randy Rhoads

CBS Records, 1987

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Most double-live albums are exercises in self-indulgence. A live album is rough enough. But, with rare artists such as Ani DiFranco, Cowboy Junkies and....Ozzy Osbourne, the experience can sometimes yield beautiful results.

Even for heavy metal haters, Tribute is an album that you can't dismiss. Yes, it's Ozzy, but it also is a requium for a very talented guitarist who could have very well changed the face of heavy metal music:Randy Rhoads. Before joining Ozzy's solo band, Rhoads helped co-found Quiet Riot. He was 16 at the time.

His technique was a unique mix of guitar god theatrics and restraint classic guitar prose. And, for a guitar lover, Tribute has tons of guitar solos from Rhoads. The most notable guitar solo, "Suicide Solution" was a nice slap in the face for censors of Mr. Osbourne in the mid 80s. While the solo might not have been as spectacular as some of the other songs on the double-live album, it was a listed solo on the liner notes, next to the song that was a calling card to the right wing zelots who wanted Ozzy banned from the record bins.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If you were going to knock "Suicide Solution", you were knocking Randy Rhoads. And I personally ask Mr. Dobbs or Mr. Falwell to knock Osborne after looking at the liner photos in the album's inner sleeve. Or the touching tribute written by Randy Rhoads's mum. It was not an 8-ball that killed Rhoads. It was not an over dose of any substance. It was a senseless plane crash. And Rhoads's talent spoke for itself. For a scapegoat, Osbourne is way too human of a person to have any of that shit stick.

But Tribute rarely resorts to mushy sentiment. Heavy metal is clear and present in all its cartoony glory. From the operatic opening of "I Don't Know" to the Beavis and Butthead thunder of "Iron Man". It's also quite a funny listen. See, Tribute was my first Osbourne purchase. I was expecting the devil-worshipping, bat-munchin' madman. Instead I get this pushing 40 hippie yell out "I love you all!" and "you're beautiful people".

Some things you outgrow, I realize that. "Mr. Crowley" and the wincingly sappy, "Goodbye to Romance" do precious little to me at the age of 25. A lot different when I listened to this when I was 15. Other songs, such as "Revelation (Mother Earth)" and "Children Of The Grave" are mediocre at best.

Still, the live versions of these songs beat the LP versions all to hell, save for the vintage Black Sabbath songs. With the amps pumped, it seemed like Randy Rhoads took his guitar playing to the next level, utilizing all of the fuzz and the feedback that live recordings/performances offer.

The album closes with "Dee", studio out-takes from Rhoads. There, you hear a shy, vulnerable musician try to decipher which version of his performance to keep. It's all acoustic. You hear him laugh, you hear simple suggestions, you hear his voice. And it's a tragic loss.

All that said, Tribute has to get an approval from me. It elevates some of Ozzy's solo work, which sometimes didn't translate to tape very well. It gave us a better understanding of Rhoads's talent. And, it was a fitting retrospect to an artist who was still growing when he died in 1982. Yes, a heavy metal fan should have some Black Sabbath in their collection, but if you're looking for Osbourne's best moments on record, look no further than this double-live album extravaganza. Scary, eh?


Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CBS Records, and is used for informational purposes only.