With the release of Blizzard Of Ozz in 1981, Ozzy Osbourne managed to pull off one of the most remarkable comebacks in rock history. It would not have been possible without the discovery of a young guitar prodigy named Randy Rhoads. The late guitarist only made two albums with Ozzy, Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman – yet his influence on metal remains huge to this day. In honor of these two landmark recordings, Sony Legacy has issued the commemorative Blizzard Of Ozz/Diary Of A Madman 30th Anniversary (Collector’s Edition Box Set).
Deluxe is the operative word here. The set includes remastered editions of both albums on CD and vinyl for starters. The Blizzard disc adds three bonus tracks, but it is the two-disc Diary package that is the real prize. The second CD is titled Ozzy Live, and holds 11 previously unreleased live performances from the Blizzard tour. This is an absolutely scorching set, with Rhoads just peeling lick after lick off his guitar. The 8:34 version of “Suicide Solution” needs to heard to be believed, and they even dust off three old Sabbath tunes to close the night out.
Fans will also enjoy the DVD documentary Thirty Years After The Blizzard, which features interviews with luminaries such as Lemmy, Nikki Sixx, Ozzy himself, and many others. The DVD also has 30 minutes of recently discovered live footage from the Palladium in New York, filmed on May 2, 1981. Rounding out this definitive package is a 100-page coffee table book, a replica of the cross Ozzy wears, and a double-sided poster.
The extras included in the box will obviously appeal to his legion of fans, but there is more to the set than initially meets the eye. Besides being remastered, the discs have also been “restored.” This is a record company euphemism to address an ugly incident that took place in 2002. Besides Osbourne and Rhoads, the band that recorded these two albums included Lee Kerslake (drums) and Bob Daisley (bass). The pair later sued for songwriting credits and unpaid royalties, which did not sit well with the Osbournes. Their tracks were removed and replaced by Ozzy stalwarts Robert Trujillo (bass), and Mike Bordin (drums).
Fans were outraged at this petty act, but until now those “new and improved” editions were all that were available. For the record, Ozzy has personally denied any involvement in the affair. Considering the participants, his claim of innocence rings true. I’m glad that everyone came to their senses and realized that no matter what, these two albums made history, and tampering with them was a foolish mistake.
In the Thirty Years After The Blizzard documentary, we see that Ozzy’s abiding love for Randy Rhoads has not diminished a bit over the years. Rhoads’ death in 1983 was one of the most senseless in all of rock. While on tour, the private pilot who was scheduled to ferry the band into the gig took Randy up for a quick joy ride. They buzzed the tour bus and the jackass pilot lost control, crashing and killing himself and Rhoads instantly.
There is a scene featuring Ozzy and producer Kevin Churko listening to some of the original tapes. At the end of one song, Randy is caught up in the momentum and continues playing an unbelievable solo. The solo was edited out, and Ozzy had never heard it before. He is visibly moved by it, and the moment captures a glimpse of the incredible bond and respect the two had for each other. It is a big part of the reason these two records have maintained such an enormous impact over the years.
Before Ozzy Osbourne became America’s favorite befuddled dad, he and Randy Rhoads made ground-breaking music together. There is a reason “Crazy Train” and “Flying High Again” are played at pro sports venues across the country these days. They long ago left the metal ghetto, and have become a part of the national psyche. The marketing, the book, the collector’s cross – in the end it is all extraneous to the music. Ozzy and Randy created something that will never be duplicated, and this set pays one hell of a tribute to it.