Ozzy Osbourne - Ordinary Man

Ozzy Osbourne Ordinary Man cover
Ozzy Osbourne
Ordinary Man
Epic Records
Ozzy has had it well in this life. He’s been part of the band that invented heavy metal, enjoyed a healthy solo career at least up to the mid-90s... with little to show in the past twenty years, other than some mediocre albums, remasters, a kind of decent album with Gus G. (that the latter wasn’t part of writing) and after that a period of six or so years that was sort of used to close the book on Black Sabbath (allegedly), maybe not in the possible way, but… it is what it is – the supposed “The End”.
The past couple of years have not been kind to the “madman”, as he had to cancel his tour last year due to poor health and he just revealed that he’s been diagnosed with some form of Parkinson’s Disease, which will probably make performing – but not only that – more difficult. Best of luck with that… although it’s no easy road…
Supposedly closing the book on the solo career, as well is “Ordinary Man” an album co-written and produced by guitarist Andrew Watt, who’s known for producing some currently hip pop and rap artists. Bassist Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses) and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) contribute parts with guest appearance by Slash, Tom Morello, Elton John, Post Malone and Travis Scott.
While “Ordinary Man” is not the second coming of Oz, it at least easily bests most of the Blasko, penned and produced albums of recent past. It’s still closer to them than it is to the man’s classic era, but at least it tries to vary things a bit more as well as to prove there’s a bit of life left in this increasingly ailing equine, knows as Oz.
“Straight to Hell” tries to take cues from classic era Oz, rocks hard the percussion and grooves as much as it can with Ozzy sounding pretty massively over tracked… the little harmonies and production tricks add an interesting note and keep the song from slipping into a snooze session during the break and Slash offers a nice if not a little sort solo, before the song comes to a close.
“All My Life” is a half ballad, with echo/verb drenched vocals and a tasty groovy undercurrent melody, pushing it along during the choruses, which are not too complex, but are enhanced by the smart production that layers the vocals along with a ton of instrumentation there, to give some emphasis. Watt offers a nice lead and it all comes together nicely.
In “Goodbye” one can hear distant echoes from “No More Tears” and while the premise and atmosphere are done well, it’s a little plain and predictable, with Ozzy needing a fair bit of production to sound good… at least, Watt has bothered enough to arrange things in a way that any shortcoming don’t become clearly apparent, but the vocal effects that often fry the Ozman’s vocals are probably added not to add flavor, but to disguise something that’s not absolutely on cue.
The title track, features both Slash soloing and Elton John both on pianos, as well as on vocals on a verse. Think Beatles/ELO sort of piano ballad, with a Queen like build and conclusion.
Ozzy can hardly keep it together vocally… both due to age as well as range and is saved just by his characteristic timbre. Elton John sounds infinitely more tuneful when his verse comes around, but if you forgive it lacking a bit in cohesion, it’s not bad.
Initially “Under the Graveyard” didn’t impress me. It has grown on me since. Its first verse is pretty cool, in its acoustic melancholy, but the massively booming chorus sort of feels a little too much. The verse melody repeats with even more pessimistic lyrics. I feel that a slightly different arrangement and a slightly less groovy drum in the chorus would have benefited it. I can’t help but like the “faux Sabbath” solo section and the whole thing comes full circle retaining that groove… I might have preferred an acoustic and sadder conclusion in all honesty.
“Eat Me” does away with all that melancholy, which it exchanges for a goofy foray into Rob Zombie schlock, sock rock territory. It does okay, although it work, just because Ozzy is Ozzy, just like Anvil is Anvil.
“Today is the End” has a nice riff and melody, but the contrast between the heavy and gloomy verses to the overtly cheery chorus… isn’t all roses, plus the lyrics and mood during the chorus are as far removed from it, all eschatological, over some not so dark sounding guitars…
The song almost segues into the quirky AF “Scary Little Green Men” which is... for a lack of better word, a trip. Without stepping into the cosmic fields of Agent Steel, the true MADman that’s known as Ozzy, honky tonks along this funky doom piece. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would…
“Holy for Tonight” is a ballad that mixes almost Hawaiian guitar slants, with Corrish poppy melodies complete with strings with Ozzy shrilly top end, on top of it all... it probably wastes some of Ozzy’s best and most introspective lyrics, in a while – if he wrote them, to music that doesn’t feel appropriate with the “heavy” subject matter at hand.
When “It’s A Raid” started, I thought wtf, due to the intentionally lo-fi quality. What follows is a noizy punky blitz, not far off from Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy” only fucktudes to magnitude more chaotic. It seems that Watt’s involvement in this project, who’s also produced rapper Post Malone, ended up with him an Ozzy exchanging guest appearances. It doesn’t make too much sense, although, it’s not too hard, to like, but I don’t think that Malone’s brassier and more urban tone, really adds much to this song.
“Take What You Want” is a weird one, as here it’s a Post Malone tune featuring Ozzy, pretty much. A rap/trap hybrid, with rock elements and a solo, this feels like a strawberry shit sandwich. I like the line that Ozzy and Malone share, as a verse, and the lightly tuned Malone verses, I don’t mind, but the tripping, trappy section, I couldn’t take… the song just restarts with Ozzy for a pretty damn good solo to occur, but while… this could have been something – there’s no synergy… like for instance there was in the Run DMC/Aerosmith collab, all those years ago, that actually gave the Smith some cool street cred without messing over their song.
The first five songs I can fathom and even appreciate, the 2 weird ones, I chucked at and well didn’t mind actually. “Today is the End” and “Holy for Tonight”, I think waste some good ideas, by not making the right choices. “It’s a Raid” is just too weird. And “Take What You Want” might have worked as a solo tune, but doesn’t work as a mash up of two diametrically opposed styles, with no one giving some ground. A mixed bag it is then, before the final bang, but it’s not worse than what would have been the final statement previously so, you unorthodox crazy bastard… we salute ya, if this truly is the end. It’s been a good enough ride.