If there’s one name in the annals of rock history known to absolutely everyone, it’s Ozzy Osbourne. It doesn’t matter if you know him from his time with Black Sabbath, his solo career, his reality TV series, his wife, the bat story, or any of the other utterly insane stories which usually start with the excessive consumption of alcohol, or use of illegal substances. The fact is you know the name, you know the face, and you know the legend.
So, with all the unnecessary waffle out of the way, let’s just dig straight in. Opening with the simple but uptempo riffing of ‘Straight to Hell’, Ozzy sets things in motion with a trademark “All right now!” and all is right with the world once again. ‘All My Life’ is a personal, introspective ballad with splashes of Pearl Jam, and ‘Goodbye’ features a crawling Sabbathy riff which switches between tempos and ends with Ozzy asking “Is it tea-time yet? Do they sell tea in heaven?” in a bizarre and distinctly un-Brummie English accent.
Released last month, ‘Ordinary Man’ has already split fans down the middle. Some are quite happy with his collaboration with Elton John in this piano-driven ballad, while others are, let’s say… not as keen. Yes, it would probably have been just at home on one of Elton’s own albums as it is here, but it’s also arguably Ozzy’s best ballad since ‘Mama, I’m Coming Home’, even when guest guitarist Slash appears to forget that he’s already written the solo to ‘November Rain’.
“Today I woke up and I hate myself” may not be the happiest of lyrics, but ‘Under the Graveyard’ is a genuine throwback to Ozzy’s glory days. Meanwhile, despite the harmonica intro sending you back to ‘The Wizard’, as well as some nice bass work by Duff McKagan and a slow, Sabbathy middle section, ‘Eat Me’ is disappointing filler.
The vocal effects which lace Ozzy’s performance on ‘Today is the End’ suggest it was one of the trickier cuts to get his throat around, but the supremely silly ‘Scary Little Green Men’ is better than it has any right to be. Reminiscent of ‘Killer of Giants’, it boasts a great chorus and sets the album firmly back on track as Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello adds some typically screechy noises into the mix. ‘Holy For Tonight’ is another ballad, but simply doesn’t possess the same power as ‘Ordinary Man’.
Penultimate track ‘It’s a Raid’ features Post Malone, in a guest vocal spot, but for all of its attitude, it’s all a bit of a noisy blur and not one of Ozzy’s finest moments. However, it’s album closer ‘Take What You Want’ which will remain longest in the memory. But for all the wrong reasons.
Featuring Post Malone once again, Ozzy is joined this time by rapper Travis Scott. Co-written by Scott, Malone, Billy Walsh, Louis Bell, and producer Andrew Watt (also the guitarist for this album), this misguided abomination is everything you would expect from a group of people whose writing credits include Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Cardi B, and Justin Bieber, not to mention a “party promoter, shoe designer and personal stylist”.
What begins as a cohesive, fun and fully functioning Ozzy album soon finds itself unable to live up to anywhere near its own promise. A bland production does nothing to improve matters, and although Watts’s fuzzy ’90s guitar sounds good, to begin with, it soon becomes distracting and irritating. Ozzy’s voice, although clearly processed to hell and back, sounds good enough for someone of his age and medical condition, but a few (admittedly excellent) highlights aside, Ordinary Man is just plain ordinary.
6 / 10