Blizzard of Ozz / Diary of A Madman
(30th Anniversary Collector's Edition)

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne’s meteoric rise to household name has been dealt its share of highs and lows. But the most abrupt and dramatic of these transmissions can probably be pinned down to around 1980 — right after the singer parted ways with Black Sabbath. Losing the gig nearly sideline Osbourne. But then two very important people came to the rescue — Sharon Arden and Randy Rhoads. Over the course of the next two years, Osbourne, Rhoads, bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake wrote and recorded Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman. Thirty years later, these two pivotal hard rock / heavy metal albums have been repackaged in a special 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition that will have Ozzy fanatics barking at the moon.

The unmistakable yelp of Osbourne undoubtedly adds a sinister edge to the songs, but the real heart and soul of Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman comes through the magical fingers of Randy Rhoads. His neo-classical runs and biting riffs added a whole new dimension to the expected metal-based repertoire Osbourne was known for. “I Don’t Know” and “Crazy Train” paved the way for a solo career that continued to flourish. Of course, from a musical standpoint, many will tell you tell it was never quite the same after Rhoads was killed in a tragic (and senseless) 1982 plane crash. A spin through Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman, and there’s little room for argument.

When the albnums were reissued in the 90s, they were remixed with new bass and drum tracks. Fortunately, the original tracks (including those played by Daisley and Kerslake) have been restored, remastered and buffed out with lots of extras. Blizzard Of Ozz, which also features “Mr. Crowley,” the controversial “Suicide Solution” and Rhoads’ acoustic instrumental to his mother, “Dee,” boosts three extra tracks: “You Looking At Me, Looking At You,” a 2010 guitar and vocal remix of “Goodbye To Romance” and a short electric guitar piece appropriately called “RR.”

Dairy Of A Madman, which many believe showed a marked maturity, features “Over The Mountain,” “Flying High Again” and “You Can’t Kill Rock And Roll.” You can buy an expanded version of Diary Of A Madmen and get a second live disc (also included in the box set) that features the best of the two albums, plus three Black Sabbath songs, performed with Rhoads, bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Tommy Aldridge. Once you comb through the box set’s expansive 100-page coffee table book, posters, crosses and various swag, you’ll wanna take a look at the DVD.

This is where the real action is. A sensational documentary with commentary from Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne, Nikki Sixx, Rob Halford, Lemmy, Zakk Wylde (who recreates many of Rhoads’ guitar parts for the camera) and other industry insiders. While it might have been a good idea to maybe include some of the other players like Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge or Bob Daisley, watching Osbourne’s face light up during playbacks of Rhoads is well worth forgoing other guests. The extras on the DVD include interviews, performances, and other odd tidbits. The much-bootlegged After Hours in-studio performance made the grade with little to none retouching, while some of the other video appears to be handheld footage from a stealth audience member.

These days, with Ozzy Osbourne as a pop culture fixture, it’s hard to believe 30 years ago, he was collaborating with a genius and a kindred spirit — of a nature for the singer unmatched before with Black Sabbath or after 1982. Osbourne has all but admitted he’s never been able to top Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman for sheer musicality, immediacy and madness. Whether you get them separately or as part of the box, these remasters are a cool reminder of how even the strangest of pairings — namely the former lead singer of Black Sabbath and a studious guitar wizard from California — can result in something uniquely timeless and profoundly influential. You can’t kill rock and roll indeed.

~ Shawn Perry

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