Blizzard of Ozz (40th Anniversary Expanded Edition)

Blizzard of Ozz (40th Anniversary Expanded Edition)

No one expected much from Ozzy Osbourne after he was booted from Black Sabbath in 1979. Holed up in an LA hotel, slowly drinking himself to death, he was widely regarded as washed up. Enter Sharon Arden, daughter of Don Arden, the mobster-manager who’d helped Sabbath secure fame and fortune. Convinced Ozzy was finished, Don Arden gifted the singer’s contract to his daughter—and soon, the future Sharon Osbourne swooped in to help Ozzy get his act together. Said act was largely based around Quiet Riot guitarist Randy Rhoads, who was considered Eddie Van Halen’s only real competition in the shred-lord revolution of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Rhoads was young, classically trained, and ferociously talented—all qualities that made him exactly the kind of nitro-boost Ozzy needed to reignite his flagging career. Along with Aussie bassist and lyricist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake—both veterans of the UK hard-rock wizards Uriah Heep—Rhoads and Ozzy recorded one of the most important albums in heavy metal history: The 1980 classic Blizzard of Ozz. Decades since the album’s release, its raucous lead single “Crazy Train” is still Ozzy’s most recognizable solo track. Propelled by an unstoppable Rhoads riff—as well as by lyrics about the Cold War arms race that somehow doubled as a metaphor for Ozzy’s unpredictable personality—the song announced a bold new era for the singer. Its follow-up single, “Mr. Crowley,” only underscored Ozzy’s remarkable rebirth, even as his mispronunciation of infamous English occultist Aleister Crowley’s name became immortalized for the ages. The intro by Rainbow keyboardist Don Airey is straight out of a vintage Hammer horror flick, and the song’s doomy pace is reminiscent of Ozzy’s work with Black Sabbath—but what really sends the song into the stratosphere is Rhoads’ searing neo-classical solos. Elsewhere on the album, “I Don’t Know” provides a sharp contrast to circa-1970s Sabbath: Alternately aggressive and melancholy, decorated with a dizzying Rhoads performance, it’s as much a declaration of agnosticism as it is a statement of musical intent. “Revelation (Mother Earth),” meanwhile, is a pro-environment song written long before such topics were in vogue; its power comes in an instrumental maelstrom, led by Rhoads and Airey, in the song’s latter half. And the moralist anti-porn anthem “No Bone Movies” is a catchy boogie rock oddity that also discourages masturbation. “Goodbye to Romance” was reportedly the first song written for the album. A kiss-off to Ozzy’s glory days with Sabbath, the vocal melody recalls his beloved Beatles, as Rhoads plays a delicate baroque figure. It’s followed by “Dee,” Rhoads’ classical acoustic instrumental dedicated to—and named after—his mother. And the rip-roaring “Suicide Solution” became controversial five years later, when the parents of a suicidal teenager sued Ozzy and the record label, claiming their son killed himself immediately after listening to the song (Daisley, who wrote most of the lyrics, has said they’re actually about Ozzy drinking himself to death). Blizzard of Ozz became a lightning rod again in 2002, when Sharon Osbourne enlisted Ozzy’s then-current bassist Robert Trujillo (later of Metallica) and drummer Mike Bordin (Faith No More) to re-record Daisley and Kerslake’s parts for a reissue. After significant public backlash, the original bass and drum tracks were restored for a 2011 remaster. That release, along with later editions, also include the non-LP “Crazy Train” B-side “You Looking at Me, Looking at You.”

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