Prince of Darkness – Ozzy Osbourne (4-CD Box Set)
Review by Scott "Dr. Music" Itter

9/2005


         



Label: Sony
Release Date:
March 22, 2005

Musicians:
Don Airey
Tommy Aldridge
Nuno Bettencourt
Joe Bonamassa
Mike Bordin
Geezer Butler
Jerry Cantrell
Randy Castillo
Jim Cox
Bob Daisley
Warren DeMartini
Madison Derek
Steve Dudas
Molly Foote
Joe Holmes
Mark Hudson
Sarah Hudson
Ian Hunter
Mike Inez
Jake E. Lee
Steve Lukather
Jim Mastro
Tim Pierce
Michael Railo
Robert Randolph
Randy Rhoads
Rudy Sarzo
John Sinclair
Philip Soussan
Bruce Sugar
Robert Trujillo
Jim Vallance
Leslie West
Zakk Wylde
Chris Wyse
Dweezil Zappa


Art Direction:
David Daoud Coleman
Liner Notes:
Ozzy Osbourne

 

   

It's always a difficult task, writing a review for a box set. There are some that are looking for a great big fat Greatest Hits package, and there are others that are enthused by four or five discs of unreleased demos and b-sides. Well, whichever you prefer, as long as you're a fan of Ozzy, you should be pleased either way with this one. This is a four disc box with some unreleased live cuts, demos, b-sides, collaborations with other artists, and an entire disc dedicated to the rock 'n' roll rebel's take on some of his favorite tunes of the past. On top of all that you get musically with this one, you also get some great liner notes. An intro letter, as well as some brief comments about each selection from the man himself, make this a real introspective look into the career of a heavy metal legend.

I'll break this down disc by disc for you, and you will notice that it is arranged in chronological order starting with the legendary first solo album, "Blizzard Of Ozz", as part of Disc One; and winds down with the newly recorded disc of cover songs that make up Disc Four.




This is a disc that the astute Osbourne fan will probably be bored with. With the exception of "Spiders", a nice b-side from the "Bark At The Moon" era, this disc is filled with stuff that the dedicated fan already has. Even "Spiders" can be found on the remastered version of the "Bark At The Moon" CD. It does contain some decent unreleased live tracks, but the highlights here are the classic tracks like "Crazy Train" and "You Can't Kill Rock And Roll". This disc covers material through the "Bark At The
Moon" album.

Track listing is as follows:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
  I Don't Know (live)
Mr. Crowley
Crazy Train
Goodbye To Romance (live)
Suicide Solution (live)
Over The Mountain
Flying High Again (live)
You Can't Kill Rock And Roll
Diary Of A Madman
Bark At The Moon (live b-side)
Spiders (b-side)
Rock And Roll Rebel
You're No Different
 
The "If You're Looking For Something Interesting
That You Don't Already Have" Rating: 2

The "Great Songs Any Way You Slice Them" Rating: 9




This disc, much like the first, is one that is just the second part of the greatest hits package that started in disc one. We get lots of unreleased demos and live cuts, but most of them don't hold any real surprises. It is interesting to hear the original demo of "Facing Hell" from the "Down To Earth" disc though. This original demo entitled "Bang
Bang (You're Dead)" has a totally different lyrical landscape, which gives the listener another angle in which to listen to the tune. Depending on what you expect from a box set, this will probably bore the loyal Ozzy fan. Personally, if I never heard another live recording I'd be fine. I am just not a fan of the live sound. And when I get a demo track to listen to, I am hoping to hear some significant differences somewhere – either in
arrangement, or lyrically, or perhaps a different singer. Most of these demos have only slight variation from the original versions, with the exception of "Bang Bang (You're Dead)".

Track listing is as follows:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
  Ultimate Sin (live)
Never Know Why (live)
Thank God For The Bomb (live)
Crazy Babies
Breaking All The Rules
I Don't Want To Change The World (demo)
Mama, I'm Coming Home (demo)
Desire (demo)
No More Tears (single version)
Won't Be Coming Home(S.I.N.) (demo)
Perry Mason (live from Ozzfest live album)
See You On The Other Side (demo)
Walk On Water (demo)
Gets Me Through (live)
Bang Bang(You're Dead) (original demo for "Facing Hell")
Dreamer
 
The "If You're Looking For Something Interesting
That You Don't Already Have"
Rating: 2

The "Great Songs Any Way You Slice Them" Rating: 6




Now, this is where it gets interesting. This is a disc devoted to collaborations that Ozzy has been involved with over his incredible career. With everyone from Motorhead to Miss Piggy making an appearance here, this is a real interesting disc.

I am the biggest Sabbath fan on the planet (and if Mars has any, I'm bigger than them too), so of course I have both of the Sabbath tribute records. The first four tracks here are from those two records. With the exception of "Psycho Man", the recently recorded Sabbath tune for their live album "Reunion" and a few others, these tunes all have a tongue-in-cheek goofiness to them. For myself, I am thrilled to now own the collaborations with Miss Piggy and Dweezil Zappa. I don't really love anything on this disc, but it does round out any Ozzy fan's collection. I am the type of fan that wants to own everything that an artist has ever recorded, no matter how bad or ridiculous it may sound; this disc satisfies that craving for completion. Even if you have the tribute records, the Sabbath "Reunion" album, and the Infectious Grooves album with "Therapy" on it like I do, you'll still get a suitcase full of tracks that you don't have – and that's always a good thing.

Track listing is as follows:

1.
2.
3.

4.
5.
6.
7.

8.
9.

10.
11.
12.
13.
  Iron Man (Ozzy with Therapy?)
N.I.B. (Ozzy with Primus)
Purple Haze (Ozzy with Zakk Wylde, Randy Castillo
& Geezer Butler)
Pictures Of Matchstick Men (Ozzy with Type O Negative)
Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed) (Ozzy with Was Not Was)
Born To Be Wild (Ozzy with Miss Piggy)
Nowhere To Run (Vapor Trail) (Ozzy with Crystal Method,
DMX, Ol' Dirty Bastard & Fuzzbubble)
Psycho Man (with Black Sabbath)
For Heavens Sake 2000 (Ozzy with Tony Iommi
& Wu-Tang Clan)
I Ain't No Nice Guy (Ozzy with Motorhead)
Therapy (Ozzy with Infectious Grooves)
Stayin' Alive (Ozzy with Dweezil Zappa)
Dog, The Bounty Hunter
 
The "If You're Looking For Something Interesting
That You Don't Already Have"
Rating: 7

The "Great Songs Any Way You Slice Them" Rating: 3




This is the reason I bought this box to be honest with you. I have just about everything on the first two discs, and the third disc has a wealth of nonsensical stuff. This was an entire disc of stuff that I didn't have, and better yet, it's full of great classic songs. Now, the only question that remained was "Is Ozzy's take on this classics worth hearing?" Well, for me it's about 50/50. I like his take on "21st Century Schizoid Man", "Mississippi Queen", "Fire", "Sympathy For The Devil", and "Working Class Hero". Some nifty arrangement alterations make "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Sympathy For The Devil" an interesting listen; "Fire" is just a song that suits Ozzy perfectly; and "Working Class Hero" is a song that captures the deeper, haunting voice that we heard from Ozzy in the early Sabbath years. "For What It's Worth", "All The Young Dudes", and "In My Life" are songs that are too far removed from Ozzy's tone and style. I think if he would have rearranged them instead of doing them straight up he might've made these songs his own, but he just ends up sounding awkward and out of place here. "Good Times" is off the beaten path too, but it is quite fun I will admit. The real blast of pure schlock comes with a version of the Sabbath classic, "Changes." Ozzy duets with daughter Kelly, and they alter the lyrics to fit the occasion; "She is my woman" being changed to "She is my baby" . . . things like that. First of all, not even Ozzy should have the right to alter the holy works of the immortal Black Sabbath. And secondly, a Sabbath song should never be made into a cute, cuddly, and really corny father-daughter dance.

Track listing is as follows:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
  21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson)
Mississippi Queen (Mountain)
All The Young Dudes (Mott The Hoople)
In My Life (The Beatles)
Fire (Arthur Brown)
For What It's Worth (Buffalo Springfield)
Sympathy For The Devil (Rolling Stones)
Working Class Hero (John Lennon)
Good Times (Eric Burdon)
Changes - duet with Kelly Osbourne (Black Sabbath)
 
Overall Rating: 6


So, that's what you get for your 40-50 bucks; along with a beautiful 60-page booklet with great photos and a brief quote from Ozzy for each song in the collection, among other things. For my 45 bucks I feel like I got one pretty cool disc of covers, another disc with some goofy, hard to find collaboration rarities, and a really nice booklet. Is it worth the $45 price tag? Not really; at least not for me, anyway. I heard recently that the fourth disc of covers is going to be released all by itself (rumored release date: October 4, 2005), which is a wonderful idea. The disc is also rumored to have these additional tracks: "How" (John Lennon), "Hi Ho Silver Lining" (Jeff Beck), "Rocky Mountain Way" (Joe Walsh), "Woman" (John Lennon), and "Go Now" (The Moody Blues). For the fan who has all of the Ozzy albums and a few of the collaborative things on disc three, paying only $12 or $13 for the fourth disc alone is a great alternative. I think the concept of the box set, in general, means different things to different people. But I can say that no matter how hard Ozzy tries to make a parody of himself, be it with "The Osbournes" series or with his cornball duet with daughter Kelly as they trample sacred ground here, one thing will always remain – Ozzy truly is the Prince Of Darkness.

Overall Rating For The Entire Box Set: 6

 
       


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