Ozzy Osbourne

Prince Of Darkness

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To the Ozzy Osbourne fan who has to have it all: The ultimate lunacy is on Disc Three -- the prince of fucking darkness and the ego queen of puppets, Miss Piggy, making a ham sandwich of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild." To be fair, Osbourne is a model of metal decorum, yelping with as much conviction as the occasion will bear, while Miss Piggy's ecstatic squeals imply she's riding something other than a Harley. Indeed, there may be no better measure of Osbourne's miracle ride since he was sacked from Black Sabbath in 1979 than the extreme zigzags between hellfire classicism and hilarious anomaly (singing for Was Not Was, swapping verse with Ol' Dirty Bastard) in this delightfully motley four-CD anthology. Prince of Darkness is also the story of Osbourne's long trip out of gloom after his first guitarist, Randy Rhoads, died in 1982. A sharp songwriter and champion soloist, Rhoads is the real star of the first half of Disc One (the barking-dog riff in "Crazy Train," his long, manic break in the live "Suicide Solution"); the rest of the box recounts Osbourne's search for a strong, steady alter ego in the parade of shredders (Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde) and co-writers (Motorhead's Lemmy, Foreigner's Mick Jones) that follows. Osbourne also throws his prog-rock, heavy-blues and psychedelic roots around in nine newly cut covers, at least three of which belong on your next metal-party mix CD: King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man," Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" and "Fire," by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. But the greatest shock is the authentic force that Osbourne, who was born into poverty and never finished school, brings to his whispered-goth reading of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero." "If you want to be a hero," Osbourne sings in a searing whine uncannily like Lennon's, "well, just follow me." You could do worse.


(Posted: Mar 24, 2005)