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MUSIC REVIEW

Ozzy is Back

But Should He Be?

By Sandra Gonzalez

Ozzy Osbourne’s brand new solo album, Down to Earth, is his first album in six years. Although it took him six years to write, compile, and produce, he really should have taken longer.

When Black Sabbath was searching for its identity over 30 years ago, guitar player Tony Iommi said to Ozzy, “Isn’t it peculiar that people pay money to see horror movies? Why don’t we start writing scary music?” And Black Sabbath was born. Ever since, the group’s guitar and background music have been excellent and unique, but cluttered by Ozzy’s strange and ear-piercing voice.

Ozzy commented on his rise to stardom on the multimedia portion of Down to Earth, “It seems like yesterday that we were walking down the street and saying to each other, I wonder if we will ever make it, and here we are thirty years later. I swear to you it’s gone by like a flash.”

With insightful songs like “Gets Me Through” and “Dreamer,” Ozzy shows his more private side. He quietly attempts to combat his fantastic image of being the antichrist, but alas, to no avail. He is still the same demoniacal figure we’ve seen on stage, biting off heads of chickens.

Interestingly enough, old and young alike can appreciate Ozzy’s music. Ozzy’s amazing following of young people shows his transformation from Black Sabbath to modern music, but still, remnants of the old school style can be heard in his music. In fact, the background singing and chord progressions of “That I Never Heard” is reminiscent of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour.

Even the sixth track, “You Know ... (Part I)” begins just like an Electric Light Orchestra song. It seems that Ozzy ran out of ideas and inspiration for songs, and just decided to rip off other bands. Ozzy says in “You Know...(Part I),” “Tried to be a good father; sorry if I made you cry.” Lines like this make you wonder really what kind of person Ozzy is aside from the image he portrays to the public.

Ozzy has fueled the idea that he is evil, but in a Sundance 2001 Interview for the Colorado Daily, Ozzy commented that at the end of every show he asks all concert goers, “If you’ve been drinking or using dope, please make sure you get somebody around to drive you home, or leave your car and get a cab, ‘cus I want to come back next year and do this again.” I suppose it’s the image that sells the records, and not the fact that Ozzy has grown up at the age of 52. Like many of the other Beatles-esque songs on the album, “Running out of Time,” reflects his maturation as a singer and a man to create a conglomeration of styles and produce the best song on Down to Earth.

At times, this CD reflects the evil nature of Ozzy, yet the third track on the CD, entitled “Dreamer,” seems vaguely hypocritical as it strives to convey deep emotion and dreams through artificial means. For all the emotion and sentimentality that Ozzy possesses, he can’t ever fully convey it because of his cold voice. This track reminded me of Kid Rock’s song, “Only God Knows Why” -- another futile attempt at an “emotionally charged” song.

I’ll admit, Ozzy isn’t a stellar role model, but he has certainly been a role model for other bands. Being around for 30 years and beginning an entire genre of music is deserving of some idolizing. Slipknot’s lead singer, Corey Taylor, even went as far as to say, “Everything everyone’s doing is basically ripping off Back Sabbath anyway because I always figured that they already wrote every good song. So thanks for not suing all of us for stealing your songs.”

Rolling Stone’s David Fricke went so far as to say, “Ozzy Osbourne is the most sentimental man in metal - and tough enough to let it show in ‘Gets Me Through’ and ‘Dreamer,’ the two best songs on Down to Earth.” If these are the best songs Ozzy has to offer, the bands that Ozzy has spawned such as Slipknot, Disturbed or System of a Down are far better than he is.

For diehard Ozzy fans, Down to Earth reflects a certain amount of maturity and wisdom, and would definitely compliment a collection of Ozzy albums, but for those of us who crave the modern day hardcore heavy metal without the piercing sounds of Ozzy’s voice, the money spent on Down to Earth would be better spent elsewhere.