Blizzard Of Ozz (Legacy Edition)
REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/19/2011
Ozzy Osbourne’s solo debut, Blizzard Of Ozz, is an album that needs little introduction. It spawned a trio of hit songs in “Crazy Train,” “Mr Crowley” and “Goodbye To Romance,” introducing listeners to legendary guitarist Randy Rhoads, and already has a guaranteed place in rock history.
The most difficult thing in sitting down to review Blizzard Of Ozz in 2011 is trying to put aside the many embarrassing stains on Ozzy’s career since his popular rebirth as the Prince of Daftness on MTV’s The Osbournes. Arguably the lowest Ozzy sank was in 2002, with the decision to re-release Blizzard Of Ozz and its follow-up, Diary Of A Madman, with the rhythm section re-recorded by Robert Trujillo (bass) and Mike Bordin (drums). Undertaken as a means of silencing Ozzy’s original band mates Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake, after years of bickering over unpaid royalties, hearing the re-recorded songs played on the radio was painful for anyone who grew up with the originals.
These latest 2011 versions restore Daisley and Kerslake’s playing to their rightful place, and give them a definite boost in quality. The mix is crystal clear, and while the trademark guitar and vocal pairing of Ozzy and Randy sounds much the same as I remember, the drum and bass tracks have never had so much punch or clarity to them. Ironic, in that neither Daisley nor Kerslake will receive a penny for these releases. But it’s a treat for the fans, to be sure.
The question is, are these latest editions worth purchasing?
Speaking as a fan who idolized Rhoads when I first picked up the guitar, I have mixed feelings on the question.
Yes, these are the best-sounding versions to date. It’s nice to be able to listen to “Crazy Train” for the umpteenth time and notice the occasional fill or recurring tic-a-tic-a-tic of cymbals that’s slipped you by over the years. The songs that have benefited the most are those that were oft dismissed as filler. “Suicide Solution,” better known for its inclusion of an extended guitar solo from Rhoads during the live performances, has a new sense of groove to it that makes the studio version worth listening to. “No Bone Movies” has more of galloping beat to it than I remember, and “Steal Away (The Night)” has Daisley playing so off-the-cuff you’d think it was first-take luck.
Where the Legacy Edition of Blizzard falters though, is in the extras. With the album itself clocking in at just under 40 minutes, Sharon Osbourne & Co. had plenty of room to tack on bonus tracks and yet there are virtually none. The biggest head-scratcher of an omission is “You Said It All,” a lesser-known gem from a live EP released in 1980. It is beyond me why they chose not to include it alongside “You Looking At Me, Looking At You,” an inferior b-side – which was already included on the 2002 edition, no less! A new mix of “Goodbye To Romance” is forgettable, and “RR” – a leftover Randy Rhoads guitar solo from years gone by – isn’t worth listening to more than a couple of times. Bob Daisley has spoken of possessing a “Holy Grail” of tapes from the Blizzard Of Ozz writing sessions including rehearsals, jams, studio chatter and the like. Had Sharon Osbourne truly wanted to pay the two Rhoads albums the respect they deserved, she might have considered paying him a hefty fee for some of those recordings.
Instead, they opted to release a heftily-priced box set in addition to the CD releases. It includes a variety of kitschy items such as a replica Ozzy cross, a two-sided poster, a coffee table book, and 180-gram vinyl copies of the albums, plus a DVD. The DVD, entitled Thirty Years After The Blizzard, is the only item that will be of interest to some fans. It features about 70 minutes worth of footage, some of it previously unreleased, from Ozzy’s 1981 and 1982 tours. Though grainy in spots, it is a delight to see Randy Rhoads – a great talent taken far too soon – blaze his way through these classic songs live in concert. A 40-minute documentary narrated largely by Sharon and featuring some fleeting commentary from the likes of Lemmy, Bill Ward, and Zakk Wylde is of little value, offering no new insights into the two albums’ recording.
Assigning a grade to the Legacy Edition of Blizzard Of Ozz is difficult. The original album warrants nothing less than a B, and the improved sound is arguably enough to boost it to a B+. If you’ve never owned a copy, or were duped into buying the 2002 versions with Bordin and Trujillo, this is the version to get.
With this said, the lack of extras compared to other bands’ remastered catalogues is disappointing. When the best thing that a re-release has to going for it is that the old rhythm tracks have been polished and restored, it makes it difficult to recommend.