Ozzy Osbourne has been at the forefront of heavy metal for almost half a century, since his rise to prominence in the early 1970s as one of the founding members of Black Sabbath. Following his departure from the band in 1979, Ozzy’s legacy has continued to grow. He has since enjoyed a highly successful solo career, which has produced seven multi-platinum albums, inspired his own reality television show, and earned him the title of the “Godfather of Heavy Metal.”
In celebration of this impressive career Epic Records and Legacy Recordings bring us Memoirs Of A Madman, a career spanning collection, featuring an album of 17 of Ozzy’s hit singles, in addition to a DVD and limited edition vinyl set. While the collection brings nothing much new to the table, it is a nostalgic compilation of the songs that make Ozzy great and certainly fulfils its role as a commemorative chronicle of his vast achievements.
Ozzy introduces the start of the album with his unmistakable cackle of ‘All Aboard!’ from one of his most recognisable tracks, Crazy Train. As the debut single off his 1980 album Blizzard Of Ozz, this track kicked off his career as a solo artists and is a fitting first song for this tribute.
Then comes Mr. Crowly, the second single off the same album, full of powerful guitar solos and just as impressive as ever. The album proceeds chronologically through Ozzy’s extensive discography, featuring hit singles and title tracks from many of his solo studio albums including Diary of A Madman, No More Tears, Ozzmosis, and his most recent solo release Scream, as well as many others.
One questionable choice for the compilation is the inclusion of Ozzy Osbourne’s 2003 reimagining of the Black Sabbath classic, Changes, which features his daughter, Kelly Osbourne, singing part of the duet. In 2009, The Village Voice ranked this version #27 of ‘The 50 Worst Songs of the ‘00s’ and a decade on, tucked between the solid rock sounds of Gets Me Through and I Don’t Wanna Stop, this tune really doesn’t sound any better. It stands out as an unusual change of pace and seems excessively sentimental and trite for what is otherwise an exceptional collection of songs.
Thankfully the album is capped of by a return to Ozzy’s roots with a live version of Black Sabbath’s first single release, Paranoid. This live version is laced with exquisite guitar solos that power throughout the song and is a pulse-raising snapshot of Ozzy’s larger than life onstage performance. His distinctive vocals are as strong as ever and throughout the track he effortlessly provokes the audience into a monumental chant which, even as a simple recording, communicates the energy of the frontman and the excitement of the crowd. For an album created in celebration of Ozzy Osbourne’s success, both as a solo musician and a founding member of Black Sabbath, Paranoid is the perfect final touch. Memoirs Of A Madman could have done without some of the tracks, but overall it serves its purpose well, providing a nostalgic reawakening for long time fans and easily introducing future fans to Ozzy’s world of heavy metal.