Last years’ show that rumors about Ozzy Osbourne‘s immortality were highly exaggerated: firstly he almost died from staphylococcus infection, then he cancelled his tour because of pneumonia exacerbation and not a long time ago a form of Parkinson disease was revealed. But in a manner befitting the icon of Heavy Metal, who has no blood but alcohol and drugs in his veins, Ozzy decided not to stay at home but record a new album named Ordinary Man.
Drummer Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff MacKagan were invited to help Ozzy with this album. The album’s producer Andrew Watt also played the guitar in Ordinary Man and I want to talk about him further. Actually, how did it happened that born in 1990 Watt who worked with Post Malone, Avicii, Lana Del Ray and Cardi B (smh) worked on a new Ozzy‘s album? Well, let’s give mr. Osbourne himself the floor: “Kelly came home one day and said to me, ‘Dad, a friend of mine wants to know if you’d sing with him. Post Malone’. I said ‘Who the fuck is Post Malone?'” The work on this sing led Ozzy to Watt and from there things started to happen. Though Andrew say that he wore Black Sabbath and Ozzy‘s albums out, the sound in Ordinary Man still sounds a little bit synthetic and much overproduced. I totally understand that it’s 2020, autotune is used everywhere and Ozzy‘s voice is already far from l what it was years ago. But anyway in some points it’s much more programming than needed. And maybe Andrew Watt really wanted to do his best but in the end we got what we got.
Ok, let’s go to the album: Ordinary Man divided into two unequal parts. In one part Ozzy still want to show that he is still Ozzy: frightening, provocative and wicked Prince of Darkness with dark humor. In another part it can be clearly heard that he is not young anymore, he is ill and more often he thinks about eternal, looking on his life in retrospective.
All the heavy and dynamic songs are going to the first part: “Straight To Hell”, “Eat Me”, “Scary Little Green Man” and the autobiographical one “It’s A Raid”. There we can still hear that one Ozzy, cynical and crazy grandpa of Heavy Metal. Opening “Straight To Hell” starts with signature “All right now!”, powerful bass, drums and pretty good riff. Of course it’s impossible just to pass by the line “I’ll make you defecate” – who else can allow himself such thing? “Eat Me” inspired by the story of Armin Meiwes (Rammstein were also inspired by it when they wrote “Mein Teil”) starts with bluesy harmonica and then goes to some nearly Funk Metal territory. It has groovy bass line, interesting drums and guitars; I need to say that I like Andrew Watt as guitarist much more than as producer here. “Scary Little Green Man” made with all the precepts of Shock Rock: smooth music, catchy chorus and mocking humor. And the most dynamic song here is “It’s A Raid” with a good punk’ish attitude, which tells about a real episode from Ozzy‘s life. It was in early 70s, he had lots of cocaine and weed and in some moment he wanted to turn AC in, but suddenly cops arrived and Ozzy yelled “It’s a raid!!!” He wanted to flush the drugs but it was too much and he decided to snort as much as it possible. Cops left and Ozzy didn’t sleep for four days after that. The music here fits the story perfectly: heavy drums, fast guitars and dense sound. It’s not clear what exactly contributed Post Malone to this song, which can be also heard here but seems like producer knows better.
The second part is more reflective, emotional and contemplative, just look on the songs’ names: “All My Life”, “Under The Graveyard”, “Holy For Tonight”, “Goodbye” and “Ordinary Man”. Most of them are ballads, of course. Music emphasizes the mood and atmosphere with some choirs and orchestra on the background. Andrew plays some good solos from time to time and Ozzy… He just sings about his life, his family and his time, which is not so much left for him. And of course I need to highlight the “Ordinary Man” with Elton John and Slash‘ cameos. Elton‘s voice contrasting with Ozzy‘s shrill vocals, adding some depth to the song. Slash, in his turn plays the solo, which takes the listener to the Use Your Illusion era. Altogether it became a quite simple but deep and poignant song, some kind of “Show Must Go On” for Ozzy Osbourne.
The only thing I can’t accept in this album is the last track “Take What You Want”. It’s totally unnecessary track in this album, synthetic through and through with two trendy artists and lost autotune. I don’t know why it was done, really. Maybe for a couple of zoomers give it a listening on some streaming service or some shit? Anyway it’s so bad I prefer just not to think about it. This track not only mustn’t be on the album, it mustn’t exist!
But if we’ll ignore this unfortunate misunderstanding, it turns out that Ordinary Man is a quite good album. It’s very lyrical, sometimes heavy and groovy and openly mocking other times. Yes, it has a modern sound, lots of programming and other “not true” stuff but we can live with it. And it’s worth taking into account that this is probably the last album in Ozzy‘s discography.
Ordinary Man will be released on February, 21 via Sony Music.
P.S. No doubts, there will be lots of “I-listen-only-to-qualitative-music” reviewers who will kick the old wolf with jackal smiles: “there’s autotune”, “lyrics are sick”, “music sucks” and of course the classic one “Ozzy should have been retired from music a long time ago and not embarrass himself with songs like these”. It was, it is and for sure it will always be. But you know what? Experience shows that exactly these people, which poured tons of shit on musicians will be the first ones to write after their death about how much they loved it and how the world of music became empty without such mastermind.
In any case I prefer to write reviews on probably not the greatest albums but not great artists’ obituaries.
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