When Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979, it could have been the end of him. Instead, he rebounded with a debut solo project that not only established his legend, but that kickstarted heavy metal in the 1980s. In the years since, the Prince of Darkness has graduated to the Godfather of Metal, enduring alcohol addiction, controversies, and health problems to become one of the best-selling artists in metal. Here, we take a look back at his enduring legacy as we rank all 16 Ozzy Osbourne albums.
16. Black Rain
Kicking things off is Black Rain, an album that’s at best, forgettable, and at worst, unlistenable. As Yahoo.com says, Ozzy lives or dies by his lead guitarist, and here, long time collaborator Zakk Wylde seems to be on autopilot. The real problem, however, is the songs, which run the gamut from cheesy to petulant. In trying to make an album that appeals to everyone, Ozzy wound up making one that appeals to no one.
15. Down to Earth
With Faith No More’s Mike Bordin and Metallica’s Robert Trujillo on rhythm and superstar producer Tim Palmer on hand to add some polish, Down to Earth should have been great. But even their star presence couldn’t save things. Zakk Wylde is on guitar, but Ozzy overlooked him as a songwriting partner and turned to outside help instead. The result is a collection of mediocre, forgettable songs and an album that feels utterly lacking in focus. Even worse, it’s bland, and if there’s one thing the Prince of Darkness should never be, it’s bland. Released on 16 October 2001, it peaked at No. 19 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 4 on the US Billboard 200.
14. Live At Budokan
As Louder Sound says, of all of Ozzy’s live albums, Live At Budokan is the least essential. The band, which featured Zakk Wylde, former Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin and future Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, had star power by the yard, but the songs had already been played to death, and usually, a lot better than they were here. Recorded at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on 15 February 2002, it reached No. 70 on the US Billboard 200 and has since been certified Gold.
13. Under Cover
Under Cover represented more than one first for Ozzy. It was his first album to consist entirely of cover songs, and the first album to feature Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell on guitar and Chris Wyse on bass. Ozzy loved the entire thing, calling it “blinding!” Unfortunately, not many of its listeners thought the same. There’s a couple of fun moments (The Beatles’ In My Life and Mountain’s Mississippi Queen), but most of the tracks are either weird (John Lennon’s Woman and Moody Blues’ Go Now) or wanton acts of vandalism (Mott the Hoople’s All the Young Dudes and the Rolling Stones Sympathy For The Devil). Commercially, it was a flop, stalling at No. 134 on the Billboard 200 and No. 67 on the UK Album Chart.
12. Speak Of The Devil
In early 1982, Ozzy’s record label decided they wanted Ozzy to record a live album consisting of songs he’d performed in the 1970s with Black Sabbath. Ozzy didn’t want to do it, but eventually agreed. The rest of his band proved even more resistant. Both guitarist Randy Rhoads and drummer Tommy Aldridge refused to participate, feeling the album would be a major step back. Bassist Rudy Sarzo was less comfortable with saying no, but agreed to stand with the rest of his bandmates.
Ozzy’s reaction was to go on the mother of all drinking binges, which eventually culminated in him getting arrested for urinating on the Alamo. His behavior towards Rhoads became so hostile, Rhoads eventually agreed to appear on the album but confirmed he’d leave the band after fulfilling his contractual obligation to Jet Records. Plans for the album started to take shape, but came to an abrupt halt when Rhoads’ died in a plane crash that March.
By the end of the year, the record label started applying pressure on Ozzy to continue the album, which he eventually recorded with his new band, guitarist Brad Gillis, drummer Tommy Aldridge, and bassist Rudy Sarzo. Although very much the result of contractual obligation, the album performed well, charting at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 and becoming something of a fan favorite.
2010’s Scream is the first to feature guitarist Gus G, who lends plenty of muscle to what’s otherwise a fairly insipid collection of songs. Whether it was Gus’ influence or something else, Ozzy seems to be embracing a more progressive, modern sound than usual. When it works, as it does on the excellent Diggin’ Me Down, it really works. When it doesn’t (the shambolic Let It Die, on which Ozzy seems to be on the verge of rapping at times), Ozzy sounds like an old man trying desperately to keep up with the kids. It runs out of steam almost before it starts – something which may explain why Ozzy very rarely performs any of the material live. Released on 11 June 2010, it peaked at No. 4 on the US 200 and No. 12 on the UK Albums Chart.
10. Live & Loud
Live & Loud was recorded during what was intended to be Ozzy’s farewell tour and released as what was meant to be his final album. Thankfully, neither turned out to be true. If it had been, it wouldn’t have been the worst swansong in the world. The band (which at that point consisted of drummer Randy Castillo, bassist Mike Inez, and guitarist Zakk Wylde) are in top form, as is Ozzy. The song choice is excellent, with songs from Ozzy’s solo career (Mr. Crowley, Flying High Again, Mama, I’m Coming Home, Crazy Train) sitting happily alongside a sprinkling of Sabbath classics (War Pigs, Paranoid). Rounding the album off is a blistering performance of the song Black Sabbath performed by the original line-up of Black Sabbath. A moderate hit, it reached No. 22 on the Billboard 200 on its release on 8 June 1993.
Described by dwaynebsmith as the most front-loaded album since his debut, Ozzmosis kicks things off with the massive two-song punch of Perry Mason and I Just Want You, and continues in the same vein from there. Michael Beinhorn’s production is a little too polished for its own good, but Ozzy digs deep and pulls out an emotional enough performance to add some grit. The backing band, which includes Rick Wakeman of Yes and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, is exceptional, with the interaction between Zakk Wylde and Butler elevating the album to new heights. It starts to stutter toward the end, with Ozzy seeming to have more album space than he does ideas. It’s still a good effort, though, earning Ozzy a hit in October 1995 when it reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and No. 22 on the UK.
8. No Rest for the Wicked
As consequence.net notes, Ozzy’s first album with Zakk Wylde is a solid effort, representing the beginning of a creative renaissance for Ozzy and the start of an incredible partnership. Wylde’s compositions and crunching guitar add some welcome punch, even if he is still following Randy Rhoads’ template rather than branching out into his signature style. Standout tracks include the explosive Miracle Man and the MTV classic, Crazy Babies. The only real weak link is Ozzy, who sounds worse for wear and vocally shot. Ozzy rarely revisits the songs live (with the lone exception of the moody ballad Fire in the Sky), but it was still a hit with fans, peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and eventually going double platinum.
7. Ordinary Man
Ozzy’s latest album, 2020’s Ordinary Man, could have been a downer. Having recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he would have been forgiving for getting darker than ever before. Instead, he sounds more energized and vital than he has in years, even throwing some poppy moments into the mix. There’s still a good share of gloom and doom, not least on the chilling titular track, but Ozzy’s deft touch keeps things from sinking too far into the darkness. It would be a stretch to say it’s a lightweight album (Ozzy’s aching, world-weary vocals puts paid to that), but fair to say it’s fun. On its release, it was greeted warmly by both critics and fans alike, sailing to No. 3 on the US Billboard 200.
6. Bark at the Moon
As metalinsider.net says, Ozzy’s third solo album, Bark at the Moon, has a monster of a song in the title track. Newcomer Jake E. Lee’s riffs are enough to blow your socks off, while Ozzy’s impassioned performance is liable to do the same. The rest of the songs aren’t quite as memorable, but they’re still solid. In comparison to Ozzy’s first two solo projects, it falls a little short of the mark, but it’s still a good listen. Released in November 1983, it was a commercial success, climbing to No. 19 on the Billboard 200 and certifying gold within just a couple of weeks of hitting the shelves.
It took Ozzy five years after Randy Rhoads’ tragic death to finally sanction the release of Tribute. Easily the best of his live albums, it was recorded during the pair’s final tour together in 1981. The song list is exceptional, as are the performances, especially on tracks like Crazy Train and Suicide Solution. The breathtaking studio outtake of Rhoads performing Dee rounds out the album beautifully. Released in March 1987, it was a major hit, climbing to No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart.
4. The Ultimate Sin
Jake E. Lee’s final outing with Ozzy also happened to be his best. Alongside bassist Bob Daisley, he adds a contemporary edge to Ozzy’s sound. There’s still plenty of gloom and doom, but the style has definitely been updated for an 80s audience… and for once, that doesn’t translate into an album that sounds perilously dated to modern ears. Tracks like Killer of Giants, Shot in the Dark, and the title cut all rank happily alongside Ozzy’s best songs, with Lee’s muscular riffage on Killer of Giants deserves a standing ovation in its right.
3. Diary of a Madman
A year after Blizzard of Ozz made everyone sit up and pay attention, Ozzy returned with another blinding piece of hard metal. Rhoads is on top form, delivering an incendiary performance on the album opener Over the Mountain and not letting up for a second from there. For whatever reason, the album was revised in 2002 with the original bass and drum parts from Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake removed and replaced with re-recordings from Mike Bordin and Robert Trujillo. It wasn’t necessary, as both Daisley and Kerslake deliver excellent performances. Either way, it’s an outstanding album.
2. No More Tears
Some people consider No More Tears to be Ozzy’s last great album. Even if you’re not one of them, there’s no denying its class. As Ultimate Classic Rock notes, with a handful of tracks co-written by Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and some typically lovely contributions from Zakk Wylde, there’s not a wasted moment across the entire album. Layering contemporary metal with cutting social commentary and some gorgeous ballads, it’s an incredibly well-rounded, accomplished offering that fully deserves its four-times platinum status.
1. Blizzard of Ozz
Getting fired from Black Sabbath might have represented a new low for Ozzy, but it didn’t take him long to rebound. In 1980, he released Blizzard of Ozz, an album that set the template for modern metal, gave us classic songs like Mr. Crowley and Crazy Train, and, perhaps most crucially of all, provided a platform for former Quiet Riot guitarist Randy Rhoads. Over the next few years, Ozzy and Rhoads would do things no one else in metal would dare try, and it all began here. Regardless of whether you’re a casual Ozzy fan or a die-hard mosher, consider it essential listening.
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