Ozzy Osbourne - Diary Of A Madman review
|Album:||Diary Of A Madman|
|Release date:||November 1981|
01. Over The Mountain
02. Flying High Again
03. You Can't Kill Rock And Roll
05. Little Dolls
08. Diary Of A Madman
09. I Don't Know [live] [2002 remaster bonus]
Disc II [Blizzard Ozz Tour live bonus]
01. Don't Know
02. Crazy Train
04. Mr. Crowley
05. Flying High Again
06. Revelation (Mother Earth)
07. Steal Away (The Night)
08. Suicide Solution
09. Iron Man [Black Sabbath cover]
10. Children Of The Grave [Black Sabbath cover]
11. Paranoid [Black Sabbath cover]
If anyone had cautioned guitarist Randy Rhoads, bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake about the notoriously difficult second album, they clearly weren't listening. While not as commercially successful as Blizzard Of Ozz or No More Tears in America, Diary Of A Madman is often regarded as the crowning achievement of Ozzy Osbourne's solo career by fans, and it's not hard to see or hear why.
Later re-released without crediting Daisley and Kerslake, who then successfully sued in retaliation, Ozzy's bandmates deserve nearly all the credit for the artistic success of Diary. More of a vehicle for the music than a songwriter, Ozzy has always looked better when surrounded by talent. Geezer Butler would write the lyrics for Black Sabbath, and Ozzy would deliver them with his trademark panache and pitching. A similar situation kicked off his solo career, with Daisley pulling off a darn good imitation of Butler-style introspection and cosmic curiosity: "Where did I wander? / Where'd you think I wander to? / I've seen life's magic / Astral plane I've travelled through". But the obvious highlight in the first two Ozzy Osbourne albums is the guitarwork of Randy Rhoads, which often borders on virtuosity.
It's usually in the technical wizardry of solos where guitarists like Rhoads shine brightest, but Diary is full of catchy, impressive riffs - especially in "Believer" and "S.A.T.O." - that showcase the young Rhoads as a quality songwriter as well. Whether working in the context of high-octane rockers ("Over The Mountain") or ballads ("You Can't Kill Rock And Roll" and "Tonight"), Rhoads adapts and plays incredibly well alongside Daisley and Kerslake ("Little Dolls" and "S.A.T.O." give the rhythm section a bit more to do).
Diary is tight at eight tracks and, unlike Blizzard Of Ozz with "No Bone Movies", is devoid of a real clunker. That said, it is far from flawless. Probably more of a pet peeve of mine, Diary falls victim to the too-common reliance on fading out tracks with a "Well, we don't really know how to end this song, so?" vibe. The tracks that don't resort to this - "Over The Mountain", "S.A.T.O." and "Diary Of A Madman" - sound a lot better because of it, and these are among the better compositions overall, if not the three best altogether. And the technique works a little better on the ballads, but there's still a trace of laziness when concluding and transitioning. There's also a mishmash of styles, which - to be sure - isn't a problem in its own right. But when "Flying High Again" sounds more like a Van Halen song and "You Can't Kill Rock And Roll" anticipates some of the American glam metal that would follow, they sound a bit strange alongside the dynamic and complex "Diary Of A Madman", which, like "Mr. Crowley", is among the best tracks by any heavy band at the time.
This would, unfortunately, be Randy Rhoads' final album before his untimely, unfair death. Ozzy would recover musically and continue to release mostly solid albums through to 1991's No More Tears, but there is an understandably high amount of nostalgia for the first two releases, and questions of "What if?" will always surround his career. As far as unintentional swansongs go, though, nearly anybody could do a lot worse than Rhoads did with "Diary Of A Madman", and the album's placement at the top of the Ozzy mountain is a fine testament to his short, great legacy.
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