Sure, touring and making videos with Rob Zombie is cool, and that upcoming reality show about Ozzy and his kin, “The Osbournes,” is sure to be a rib-tickling delight for the entire family. But anyone who wants to experience Ozzy Osbourne at his finest or who’s unfamiliar with his pre-Ozzfest days might want to check out the digitally remastered reissues of four of his most influential discs, which are being released March 26 with previously unavailable tracks.
Blizzard of Ozz will include “You Lookin’ at Me Lookin’ at You” and a live recording of “You Said It All,” Diary of a Madman contains a live version of “I Don’t Know,” Tribute offers an unreleased single edit of “No Bone Movies” and No More Tears contains two studio B-sides, “Don’t Blame Me” and “Party With the Animals,” according to a Legacy Records publicist.
Released in 1980, Blizzard of Ozz was Osbourne’s first solo album following an ugly break with Black Sabbath in 1979. The disc convincingly proved Osbourne could deliver quality tunes without his former bandmates, and showcased the considerable prowess of Randy Rhoads, who would later be considered one of the most influential lead guitarists in heavy metal.
Blizzard contained the stompers “Crazy Train” (later featured in the well-known 1999 Mitsubishi car commercial) and “I Don’t Know,” as well as the headbanger’s ballad “Goodbye to Romance.” On a darker note, the disc included the controversial anti-drinking song “Suicide Solution,” which spawned a well-publicized lawsuit in which the parents of a boy who killed himself sued Osbourne, claiming the song influenced their son to end his life. The case was thrown out of court in 1987.
Osbourne followed up Blizzard with Diary of a Madman, another gem that proved there was still plenty of live ammo in Ozzy’s arsenal. In addition to demonstrating his uncanny knack for writing songs that are both heavy and melodic, the disc highlighted Rhoads’ growth as a guitar player. Diary included the triumphant anthem “Flying High Again,” the full-fisted stormer “Over the Mountain” and more lighter-raising ballads. Sadly, it would be Ozzy’s last album with Rhoads, who died in a plane crash on March 19, 1982 in Leesburg, Florida, while the band was touring for the disc.
Tribute, which came out five years after the accident, was a commemoration of Ozzy’s years with Rhoads, and the double-live album had more than mere titular significance. Aside from proving the guitarist’s skill onstage – where he often embellished his fills and leads with extra snarl and squeal – Tribute illustrated what an accomplished stage performer Ozzy was in his prime.
In 1991, as musical tides were in full shift and alternative bands such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana were taking over the airwaves, Ozzy proved his continued relevance by releasing No More Tears, which featured songs co-written by MotÃ¶rhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, who graced many of the tunes with added edge. The disc contained such piledrivers as “I Don’t Want to Change the World” and “Desire,” but it also offered one of Ozzy’s most popular ballads to date, “Mama, I’m Coming Home.”