In case he forgets his name.
I wanna talk about the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, for a minute. Everyone knows the dude’s brain is like mushy chickenfeed, but he somehow manages to hang in there year after year. That shrill hellbitch Sharon (did she really mail her own feces to Gene Simmons in a Tiffany box? . . .Good for her) has a lot to do with it. But Ozzy is more than a tattooed millionaire. He’s a survivor. The man bears the scars, psychological and otherwise, of one who has seen battle. On the razor-edged, chromium fields of Heavy Metal, natch.
But why am I wasting precious brain energy on him? Maybe it’s because I’ll always be a Sabbath fan. No matter how much fun it is to hear Sab-scab Ronnie James Dio sing of Neon Nights and Holy Divers, let’s face it: there is only one true voice for the band, and Ozzy’s was it.
Sadly, that voice is shot to shit. Years of cigarettes, booze and drugs — legal and otherwise — have left his pipes in a pretty sorry state. Anyone who had the misfortune to hear him alongside Sab recently can attest to the fact that he’s now little more than a cheerleader. And a decrepit one, at that. It hurts to hear the band tune down another whole step to accomodate Ozzy’s shrinking range, only to have him still struggle with the pitch. That’s why we studio geeks regularly thank Satan for AutoTune.
It’s cool — we all get old. But at some point, he has to say, "OK. . . I’ve got enough money to keep Kelly in Huskaroos, and little Jack in celebrity rehab for all eternity. . . Perhaps it’s time to retire."
Not our Oz.
Instead, he gives us Black Rain, his umpteenth solo album, and the first in something like six years. Of course, I had to give it a listen. Strangely, Oz is the strongest part of the record. Longtime axeman Zakk Wylde brings the crunch (and the annoying pinch-harmonics). The production employs both *old-school* (re: Sabbath-lite) placeholders and faux-industrial sounds that were dated back when Marilyn Manson was, ahem, relevant. Business as usual, then. But Ozzy seems strangely energized, which is in direct contrast to the antidepressant-addled Grandpa Munster he plays on TV.
Black Rain is not very good. But it’s still better than the new Smashing Pumpkins single.
Will Ozzy, like the legendarily ruined Brian Wilson, achieve late-career distinction? Seems unlikely. But rumor has it there’s a Sabbath album with the original lineup on deck. I know Tony Iommi still has it in him, as proven by the recent Dio-Sab reunion (legally obliged to bill itself as Heaven and Hell). Perhaps they should strike while the Oz is hot. Or semi-cogent.