Ozzy Osbourne (1981) Diary of a Madman (LP) Jet Records 37492

Ozzy Osbourne

Diary of a Madman 

Jet Records 37492

Produced by Max Norman, Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads

1981

**** Recommended


Ozzy’s second solo album, without a doubt his second best.

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This would be his last with the Blizzard of Ozz band: guitarist Randy Rhoads (ex-Quiet Riot), bassist Bob Daisley (ex-Rainbow) and drummer Lee Kerslake (ex-Uriah Heep).  Most of the songs are credited to all four members, two credited to all except Kerslake.


Within a year’s time the entire band would depart, Rhoads the last to go–dying in a plane crash early in 1982.


After two mediocre albums (Bark at the Moon in 1983 and the Ultimate Sin in 1986), he’d hook up for a long-term relationship with guitarist Zakk Wylde for the forgettable No Rest For the Wicked album in 1988, two noteworthy albums in the 1990s (No More Tears in 1991 and Ozzmosis in 1995), and two halfway decent sets in the 21st century (Down to Earth in 2001 and Black Rain in 2007).  He’d eventually depart with Wilde and release a set of covers (Under Cover in 2015) and Scream in 2010, but his only truly essential studio albums were his first two with this Blizzard of Ozz band.

— winch (author of )

 

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Ozzy Osbourne (1980) Blizzard of Ozz (LP) Jet Records 36812

Ozzy Osbourne

Blizzard of Ozz

Jet Records 36812

Released September 1980 in the UK, March 1981 in the US.

Reached #7 in the UK, #21 in the US

Produced by Osbourne, Daisley (bass), Kerslake (drums), and Rhoads (guitar).

••••• Sounds Good

The aging dinosaurs of the early 1970s had left their mark but their time had come and gone as the decade rolled on, certainly by the time it rolled over to the new decade. Even hard-rockers who weren’t interesting in looking for new bands weren’t expecting their idols to return to their thrones. Most were happy to get high and listen to their old albums. To make it even more challenging for folks such as Ozzy, few fans of hard rock gave a rat’s ass about singers, especially singers who didn’t play instruments. Vocalists were for fans of soul music and old music. Hard rock focused on the guitar players: J. Geils, Robin Trower, Montrose, Nugent, Van Halen…70s hard-rock bands were usually named after the guitarists not the singers.


When Ozzy’s debut solo hit the American shops, the label obviously had big plans. When I entered Boogie Records in the spring of 1981, I was greeted by a life-size cutout of Ozzy–a giant version of the Blizzard of Ozz album. While I’d been raised on Sabbath–listening to their albums nearly every week for the years that lead up to 1981–I had no idea who Ozzy was. Sure, I recognized him from somewhere, had rolled countless numbers on the Paranoid gatefold, but Ozzy hadn’t bitten off any heads at this point, and eight tracks didn’t offer song credits or names of band members and the photos were pretty dinky. Reading about singers or bands were activities for teeny-boppers looking through glossy snapshots of Shawn Cassidy and the Bay City Rollers. And even when I discovered that Ozzy had been the singer for Black Sabbath, that didn’t really spike my interest. I’d just seen the Sabbath 1980 tour with Rainbow’s singer (Dio), and that was fine with me.  They had fire and menace and loud music.  Who cares about the old singer who used to sing for them. That was like caring what Robert Plant was doing without Zeppelin.

But Ozzy wasn’t ready to give up the ghost and likely had noticed what Alice Cooper had done when he’d gone solo years before this. Alice had always managed to place himself above the guitarists, and while the band might not have been named after him, he was wise enough to name himself after the band. That had helped Alice considerably: when he went solo, most people just saw the release as another Alice Cooper album. Of course, fans might have noticed the complete change in the line-up if Alice hadn’t made another wide decision. He made sure that he launched his solo career with a good album. Ozzy followed that example.


Ozzy’s debut might not be as classic as Alice’s Welcome to My Nightmare, but like Alice’s debut solo, this wasn’t as good as the best from his past but it was close enough for rock and roll.  Like Alice’s debut solo, this was also the best Ozzy would ever offer. Like Alice, Ozzy’s career as a solo artist was built on theatrics on stage and off, a reputation as a bad boy on stage and off, and perhaps mostly because of the first album.


When most of these aging rockers turned 30 and/or went solo, they took a more mature approach. Meanwhile, Ozzy followed Alice’s example and went in the other direction, made his solo career more juvenile. When most artists went solo, they offered new sounds, but while Ozzy didn’t mimic Sabbath, he certainly maintained the main ideas. He retained some of the old fans while pulling in new ones.  Like with most solo albums, this was more personal than what we’d heard with his previous band, but for so many reasons, it was hardly a complete departure from his years with Sabbath.


On one hand, it’s not surprising that this album (perhaps more than anything) helped launch his long-term success as a solo artist. On the other hand, it’s a little crazy that this could happen…crazy like a “Crazy Train.”

— winch

 

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Cool R (1986) Let’s Talk About It (LP) Half & Half ST 62525 

Cool R

Let’s Talk About It 

1986

Half & Half ST 62525

*** noteworthy


Obviously influenced by every master of funk in the 80s, this has a small-town charm all its own.  While this is a varied set, it grabs you from the get-go with the 8+ minute opener “Dangerous.”  The set is produced and written Nathaniel Phillips, the band’s bass player, and that’s not surprising considering the popping bassline is a huge part of the charm.


Perhaps this offering from Portland, Oregon is not worth what you’d likely end up paying for it, this is certainly worth a listen if you dig obscure funk from the 1980s.

— winch (author of

The Wedding Present (1989) Bizarro (LP) RCA 2173-1-R

The Wedding Present

Bizarro 

1989

RCA 2173-1-R

**** recommended


For this second set, guitarist/ vocalist David Gedge and his ever-changing line up go with a major label but continue with the three-chord rhythm-guitar rock, fast without losing the underground pop-rock rhythm, moving along like a commuter train, ringing like a warning bell by the tracks, looking back to England glory days of a decade earlier when some of the punks kept the energy while losing some (but not all) of the anger.

The set moves along like a roller coaster, mixing romance with bitterness, the safe with hints of scary, focusing on the fast but slowing down to pull you in, mostly fun but hints of menace to keep it interesting.  While it’s easy to hear influences, it’s even easier to hear how this likely influenced bands in the decades that followed.

— winch

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The Breaks (1983) S/T (LP) RCA 4675

The Breaks

The Breaks

1983

RCA 4675

produced by Vini Poncia

***

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This one’s only for fans with a huge penchant for 80s pop-rock fronted by female vocalists, but if that’s your bag, this set is worth a listen, features an LA new-wave sound with the band’s Tennessee roots showing–especially in Susanne’s vocals. This Memphis outfit was fronted by the Taylor siblings, Susanne Jerome the cutie on vocals (and made into a new wave southern belle sexpot on the “She Wants You” video.)

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While she has her right hand firmly planted in the pocket of her cute 80s skirt on the album sleeve, she appears to be flipping the bird. That about says it all, LA trying to make her into a 80s pop tart, but this Memphis girl showing her roots with that twang and attitude in her voice, that grin on her face and that middle finger firmly planted in her pocket.

 

 

Most of the songs are written by the Taylor siblings, the set produced by Vini Poncia (Ringo’s songwriting partner through most of the 70s).  Apparently the rest of the band is made up of siblings, Rob and Russ Caudill providing the rhythm section, and keyboardist Tom Ward showing up on song credits with a D. Ward.  The first side stays upbeat and fairly cute and enjoyable with an 80s power-pop sound, and then after the opener “Wishy Washy,” Side Two–for better or worse depending on the listener–sticks with the ballads and sounds like the party’s over.  And likely the party was over because this is apparently the only album by this outfit.

— winch (author of

links to sellers:

Fuck Geez (1983 – 1992) Once Upon a Time There Was Fuck Geez (LP) Social Napalm Records

Fuck Geez

(1983 – 1992)

Once Upon a Time There Was Fuck Geez

Social Napalm Records

Anthology housing tons of essential cuts from this Japanese punk band…showing how a band can progress (not always a good thing with a punk band) over a decade without losing their punch…obviously influenced by 70s UK and USA punk and 80s USA HC but in traditional Japanese punk-style leaving most of the Caucasian competition in the dust as they take off from the get go, race down the blacktop and blast off to outer space.


Nonstop fun for any fan of loud fast punk rock…whether your bag is the Bad Brains, the Dictators or the raw and rockin version early U.K. Punk…or of course Japanese punk…you’re bound to get a big kick in pants from this collection.

— winch (author of

Jay Clayton (1980) All-Out (LP) Anima Productions 1J35

Jay Clayton

All-Out 

1980

Anima Productions 1J35

*** noteworthy


Clayton’s debut set as a leader, featuring interesting avant-garde vocals from Clayton, making musical sounds rather than singing lyrics, but turning that idea around when she sings a poem story into a version of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” that selection just Jay and her husband Frank Clayton on drums…the other cuts featuring the pair with Jane Ira Bloom on sax, Harvie Swartz on bass, Larry Karush on piano.


While listeners may find various cuts more interesting, the centerpiece and most enjoyable selection is the 11-minute “7/8 Thing,” a Clayton original that features four vocalists and kalimba by Bill Buchen. Most fans of jazz or avant-garde music will find something to enjoy on this unique outing.

– winch (author of the two-part novel Junk Like That and Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)