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Ozzy Osbourne - Ordinary Man (Album Review)

Wednesday, 26 February 2020 Written by Huw Baines

Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Ordinary Man’, his first solo LP since 2010 and his first album of any sort since Black Sabbath’s swansong ‘13’ seven years ago, carries plenty of emotional weight on its shoulders. It’s an often ruminative affair that has, somewhat inevitably, been handed additional significance by the metal legend’s recent health problems, including being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Backed by producer Andrew Watt, Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, plus a cavalcade of guests including Slash, Elton John and Post Malone, Ozzy opens up on elegiac ballads and dispenses out there schlock-metal with howling laughter. There are positives and negatives on both sides of the ledger.

The outwardly maudlin title track is given real power by Ozzy and Elton’s years of showbiz vamping, with the lyrics proving genuinely affecting at times. “I was unprepared for fame,” Ozzy sings in its opening line, later doubling back to add: “The truth is I don’t want to die an ordinary man.”

Towards the end of the record, though, Holy For Tonight can’t find the same balance and tumbles into overtly weepy territory without delivering a gut punch.

Among the ragers, the opener Straight to Hell rides a powerful performance from Ozzy and Slash’s high-wire soloing all the way down, and Scary Little Green men is winningly silly. Eat Me, though, pushes its cannibalistic motif too far into parody, while Under The Graveyard has a sickly, over-produced sheen that draws its sting.

The unfortunate reality of ‘Ordinary Man’ is that it might be the final recorded statement from one of modern music’s most vivid, influential characters. At times it’s little more than a workmanlike Ozzy record, beefing up forgettable songs with the personality and vigour of its performances, but in its best moments it’s able to confidently bear that load.

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