Bark at the Moon (Bonus Track Version)

Bark at the Moon (Bonus Track Version)

When virtuoso guitarist Randy Rhoads died in a plane crash in 1982, not long after collaborations with Ozzy Osbourne turned him into a hard-rock hero, the metal world held its collective breath. They knew Ozzy would continue: He’d already brought in temporary replacements with Irish wunderkind Bernie Tormé and Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis. But who could fill Rhoads’ shoes on a more permanent basis? The answer was Jake E. Lee, the San Diego shredder who helped make 1983’s Bark at the Moon one of the most exciting records of Ozzy’s career. Though the album’s poppier, synth-enhanced sound has its detractors, Bark at the Moon is nothing short of a revelation. The title track and lead single, which also became the basis for Ozzy’s first music video, kicks off with a machine-gun riff and Ozzy’s diabolical laugh. Replete with 1980s horror synths, werewolf lyrics, and Lee’s mind-bending guitar work, it became an instant Ozzy classic. But Lee wasn’t the only new member of Ozzy’s band. Former Black Oak Arkansas and future Whitesnake drummer Tommy Aldridge had taken over for Lee Kerslake after the recording of 1981’s Diary of a Madman, and retained the position for Bark at the Moon. Bassist Bob Daisley also returned to the fold. Though he’d played on and written lyrics for Ozzy’s first two albums, Sharon Osbourne ousted him from the subsequent live band—twice. This led to another issue: Though all of the songs on Bark at the Moon were credited to Ozzy at the time of its release, it eventually came out that Lee and Daisley had written the vast majority of the album. Former Rainbow keyboardist Don Airey reprised his role from Ozzy’s first two albums, bringing swelling synths to the moody “You’re No Different” and the incredibly ELO-esque “So Tired.” Daisley wrote stomp-rocker “Now You See It (Now You Don’t)” as a fuck-you to Sharon for all the firing and re-hiring he had endured. (Opening lines: “Overbearing woman, making it so hard for me/Can I ask a question? Do you think that you can take a blow?/This is why I always come and go.”) Ozzy and Sharon either didn’t realize, or didn’t care. Thematically speaking, “Rock ’n’ Roll Rebel” is a slight variation on Diary’s “You Can’t Kill Rock ’n’ Roll,” though musically heavier and lyrically more autobiographical. “Centre of Eternity,” listed as “Forever” on European pressings and introduced as such by Ozzy onstage, opens with tolling bells, monastic chants, and church organ before Lee punches a hole through the wall with a vicious riff. The album’s closing tracks, “Slow Down” and “Waiting for Darkness,” are its most underrated. The galloping bass and guitars of the former are pure Iron Maiden, but Ozzy and Airey add gravitas and melodrama in equal measure. The dark-alley atmosphere and slow-burn histrionics of the latter are unlike anything Ozzy did prior, and hint at some of the new territory he and Lee would explore on their next collaboration, The Ultimate Sin.

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