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Ozzy Osbourne Prince of Darkness Box Set

By Ashley Ramirez, Contributor
Monday, May 2, 2005 @ 2:02 AM


(Epic/Sony)

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LET THE MADNESS BEGIN!

What can be said about Ozzy Osbourne that hasn't already been said? The man has been credited as being the Father of heavy metal. He has brought along little known bands to open for him on tour who has gone on to big careers, ie. Motley Crue, Queensryche and Metallica, to name a few. He is the namesake for the only touring heavy metal music festival in the United States. So what more could Ozzy do? Ozzy has just re-signed with Epic and will have new material out next year, so to hold fans over, Epic is releasing Prince of Darkness, a four disc-fifty two song boxset that contains classics, duets and a cover disc.

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The first disc is all classic. Ozzy seemed to be history after being kicked out of Black Sabbath back in 1978. With the encouragement of his manager Sharon, who went on to become his wife, the duo recruited legendary axeman Randy Rhoads, and the rest was metal history. 1980's Blizzard of Ozz album produced such classic gems as Ozzy's signature song "Crazy Train" and his ode to Allister Crowley, "Mr. Crowley." There are three other Blizzard songs that appear courtesy of 1987's Tribute, "I Don't Know," "Goodbye To Romance" and quite possibly the most controversial song ever "Suicide Solution." While Ozzy has been sued numerous times over "Suicide Solution" the song itself is undeniable from it's riffs to Randy's solo. "Flying High Again" which is also off of Tribute is one of four songs featured from 1981's Diary of a Madman along with the title track, "Over the Mountain" and "You Can't Kill Rock and Roll." Diary is, of course as you know, the last recorded studio work of Randy Rhoads, who was tragically killed in a plane crash March 19, 1982. Ozzy rebounded and hired Jake E. Lee who will probably always be under-rated and carry the burden of being the guy who replaced Randy but, he was still one hell of a player. In 1983, Bark at the Moon was recorded, a well done follow-up to Diary. There is a live version of "Bark at the Moon" on here which comes to us courtesy of the B-side of the UK single of "So Tired." "Spiders," "You're No Different" and "Rock 'N' Roll Rebel" close out the first disc.

The second disc starts off with three live tracks "Ultimate Sin," "Never Know Why" and "Thank God For the Bomb." Those three songs were recorded form Ozzy's 1986 home video release, The Ultimate Ozzy. There are only two songs, "Crazy Babies" and "Breaking All the Rules" off of 1989's No Rest For the Wicked, which is the first album to feature the great Zakk Wylde on guitar. Of the five offerings off of 1991's No More Tears, the title track is the only one that is in album version. "I Don't Want To Change the World," "Mama, I'm Coming Home," "Desire" and "Won't Be Coming Home Tonight (S.I.N.)” are all the demo versions, which sounds very unique and are the standouts of the disc. Only two songs represent 1995's Ozzmosis. "Perry Mason" is a live recording from the 1997 Ozzfest Vol.1 and is also the only recording with guitarist Joe Holmes, who toured with Ozzy for five years. The demo version of the postmortem "See You on the Other Side" is the version Ozzy wanted to go on the Ozzmosis disc, and from the feedback I've gotten off of it -- it was the right decision. "Walk on Water" is the last demo on this disc. This is the version that wound up in the 1996 blockbuster Beavis and Butthead Do America but, if you own the soundtrack to this then you'll hear the Moby produced version. In the liner notes, Ozzy says he preferred the demo. The last three tunes are from the 2001 Down To Earth. "Bang Bang (You're Dead)” is an unreleased yet familiar song. This was the original title for "Facing Hell," the song title was changed due to nervous record company executives. A live version of "Gets Me Through" off of 2002's Live at Budokan and the studio version of the ballad "Dreamer" close out the second disc.

The third disc which is titled "Oddities and Duets," this one will most likely be the one having you scratching your head and thinking with a variety of thoughts. Some of these songs were hopefully not meant to be taken seriously; some bad and some could qualify as classics. Let's get the bad out of the way. "Dog, the Bounty Hunter" is the theme song for the A&E series of the same name. If you haven't seen this show, be thankful. The star of the show, Dog, is your typical white trash beach bum that you'd see driving a corvette on Venice Beach to go workout and he thinks he's impressing the airheads with the fake tits. Dog also has to have the worlds biggest mullet -- you've been warned. "For Heaven’s Sake" is a double-edged sword. The good news is you have Tony Iommi; bad news is you have the Wu-Tang Clan. If you can tolerate some rap or hip-hop, you may enjoy it. "Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed)” a duet with Was Not Was sounds more like a Devo song and is somewhat tolerable. (Interesting sidenote: actress Kim Basinger is the female vocal in the song. Bacon Bits anyone?) "Born To Be Wild," a classic that some say was the first ever metal song, gets a facelift of sorts as Ozzy is joined by Miss Piggy -- I know, I know. It's cool to hear Oz signing this song, but it's about as annoying as a fat chick on the dance floor with Piggy adding commentary. I won't give Ozzy too much shit over this -- he was being a good Dad. His kids at the time were huge fans of the Muppets so he did it for them. Remember when Ozzy bit off Kenny McCormick's head? I sure as hell do along with the Chewbacca defense. *R.I.P. Johnnie Cochran* From the Chef Aid South Park soundtrack comes the duet with Crystal Meth, DMX, 'Ol Dirty Bastard and fuzzbubble "Nowhere To Run (Vapor Trail).” Ozzy does disco? "Staying Alive" – yes, the same song by the Bee Gee's from Saturday Night Fever -- is actually fun to listen to. Ozzy doesn't take it too seriously and even pokes some fun by starting the song off with “ALL ABORAD THE DISCO TRAIN!” If you're a fan of guitar work then this is the song for you. Doing solos are Dweezil Zappa, Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather, Warren DeMartini, Nuno Bettencourt and Tim Pierce.

The two songs that will have you wondering why they're on this disc are "Psycho Man," one of two new songs off of Black Sabbath's 1998 Reunion album, and the cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic "Purple Haze." Both songs are neither duets or oddities but, they're cool songs to have on any collection. The best of the duets start off with two classic Sabbath gems from the Nativity in Black I and II tribute albums. The universal "Iron Man" with Therapy? and "N.I.B." with Primus. I've heard many people tell me they liked this version of "N.I.B." better then the original and that is due to the amazing bass playing of Les Claypool. "Pictures of Matchstick Men" is a duet with Type O Negative that was originally on the Howard Stern Private Parts soundtrack. There is also a song called "Therapy," not to be confused with the band Therapy? This is done by Ozzy and Infectious Grooves. IG is the side project of Mike Muir and Rob Trujillo of the fabulous Suicidal Tendencies. When legends collide, aka Ozzy with Motorhead, show a softer side with the ballad "I Ain't No Nice Guy" taken from Motorhead's 1992 album March or Die.

The fourth disc is called "Undercovers" and as you guessed it: it's a covers disc. Some people feel that songs should never be remade and the others love them. I being one of those who love them was very anxious to hear this one. The first song is a cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" and is just a straight ahead and heavy version, unlike the original which had more of a jazz-fusion sound. There is even a cover of a Sabbath tune. "Changes" was re-tooled and sung with his daughter Kelly and it probably should've been left alone -- some major cheese factor going on in this song. *Thank you Mike for the use of cheese factor* There are some guest musicians who joined Ozzy for the recordings. Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople sings the choruses on the David Bowie penned "All the Young Dudes" and Leslie West does the guitar solo for his band Mountain's classic "Mississippi Queen," which is amazing. In the liner notes Ozzy tells of how Randy Rhoads worshipped West's guitar playing. Ozzy is amazing with his renditions of Arthur Brown's "Fire," Eric Burdon and The Animals’ "Good Times" and Buffalo Springfield’s "For What It's Worth." The Rolling Stones’ "Sympathy For the Devil" was a song that Ozzy was destined to do -- how could he not? It's a very unique version and it might even take you a few spins to get used to it but it's very much worth it. The two best cover songs that I've enjoyed the most on here are John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" and The Beatles’ "In My Life.” As you know Ozzy was deeply influenced by The Beatles so it was no surprise to see those two songs appear on the album -- just superb. Joining Ozzy on this album was former Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell who stepped in for Zakk Wylde while Zakk was off recording the great Black Label Society album Mafia and Chris Wyse, who is Cantrell's bandmate in Cardboard Vampyres, and Mike Bordin on drums.

I don't know if this was a Best Buy-only exclusive but my boxset came with a five-video sampler DVD. "Crazy Train," "Crazy Babies," "No More Tears," "Perry Mason" and "Gets Me Through." It's only twenty-four minutes long yet very much worth viewing. Hopefully there will be a video retrospect DVD out sometime in the near future.

The booklet is really cool with gothic art and has sixty pages of various items such as concert/promotional posters, magazine covers, old vinyl singles, shirts, a letter written to his fans, keychains, pins, guitar pick, ticket stubs and so much more. There are also some photos taken by famed British photographer Sam Taylor Wood, including the very cool hitchhiking to hell. Also included is a coupon for Ozzfest 2005 to buy one ticket and get one free.

You're probably sitting there saying to yourself that this shit is going to cost me eighty to ninty bucks. WRONG! It cost me only thirty dollars -- a great bargain indeed.

Disc 1: * * * * *

Disc 2 * * * * 1/2

Disc 3 * * *

Disc 4 * * * *

DVD * * * * *


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