Down To Earth

Ozzy Osbourne

Epic, 2001

REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/20/2010

It was in 1997 that Ozzy  Osbourne joined forces with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward for what would be the first of many tours as the original Black Sabbath. The band went on to record a pair of shows for the imaginatively-titled live album, Reunion, and rumblings of a new studio album persisted for years. In a 2001 summer tour, they even went as far as to play one new song, “Scary Dreams,” stirring excitement among a fan base that was hungry for new material.  

Sadly, it was not to be. The promising course of events ended in disappointment, with Ozzy choosing instead to refocus on his solo career. Two months after the tour’s conclusion, Down To Earth was on the shelves.

Ozzy’s solo music has never been what one would call outstanding. But until this release, there was always something extra that gave it a certain charm, be it Randy Rhoads’ guitar playing, a chorus like “Shot In The Dark,” or even the short-lived novelty of Zakk Wylde’s squeal-harmonics. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

There is nothing of the like to be found here. Forgettable and uneven, it doesn’t sound like a band effort, and indeed it is not. Guitarist Zakk Wylde is reduced to a session player here, the majority of the songs having been penned beforehand by a variety of outside writers. Mick Jones of Foreigner gets credit on a few, as do Marti Fredriksen – an architect of latter-day Aerosmith – and the album’s producer, Tim Palmer. Even Dexter Holland of The Offspring had been involved at some point, according to Wylde.

Listening to the album from beginning to end, it almost sounds like the band is staggering. After kicking things off with a generic single in “Gets Me Through,” there is a jolt of energy with “Facing Hell,” featuring heavy, sinister verses and well-done keyboard effects. Then, just when you’ve woken up, Ozzy turns in a poor man’s John Lennon impression with the commercial hit, “Dreamer.” “No Easy Way Out,” meanwhile, is a bland effort featuring a riff that could have been written by a preschooler. Start dozing off again, and you get “That I Never Had,” an aggressive hard rock tune.

The whole affair leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Every second or third song has a sparkle of brilliance, but in the grand scheme of things they are mediocre. The strongest tracks – “That I Never Had,” “Junkie,” and “Can You Hear Them?” – were co-written with bassist Robert Trujillo and former guitarist Joe Holmes, both of whom had played in Ozzy’s band for six years at the time. Though Holmes does not appear on the album, these songs have a certain tightness and chemistry about them that is lacking in the ones written in collaboration with outside musicians. 

Had the powers that be – **coughcoughSharonOsbournecough** - seen it fit to record an album with an actual band as opposed to a slew of outside hit makers, Down To Earth could have been a fair addition to Ozzy’s discography.  Instead, we have a CD which ranks among the worst of Ozzy’s studio albums, next to a ghastly selection of cover songs released a few years later.

Rating: C-

User Rating: F


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