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Ozzy Osbourne

Down To Earth

Review by Gary Hill

Quite a few critics have said that the strength of this album is the fact that it doesn't waver from Ozzy's tried and true style, and that fact establishes a musical reliability in a sea of changing music. Well, this reviewer for one thinks that they must not have really listened to this album. Yes, there are elements here that share a lot with earlier Ozzy offerings. In fact, several cuts could have come from any of his recent works. However, the true shining stars on the disc are the pieces that show growth from the Ozzman. The tracks that are very atypical of his established style, and there are plenty of those. Indeed, who would have ever thought that you would throw in an Ozzy disc and hear him singing under the influence of The Beatles? Well, with the track "Dreamer", that is exactly what you get. Yes, this is a great album, but not because of how Ozzy's music has stayed the same, but because of how it hasn't.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Gets Me Through
This one starts with a mysterious sounding segment. After that runs its course, a great metallic texture begins the song proper. The break on this one contains plenty of mid-period Sabbath textures to it. Lyrically this one is a tribute from Ozzy to his fans. He says that the feeling he gets from them is what gets him through. This is a great cut and an awesome way to start the album.
Facing Hell
This cut is a bit more generic as Ozzy material goes, feeling like it could have come from any of his last few studio albums. It's not that this is a bad track, but it just feels like we've heard it before.
Dreamer
And now for something completely different - this cut is one of the most unique in Mr. Osbourne's solo career. It seems like Ozzy's stab at the Beatles sort of sound, and he pulls it off quite well. This great ballad is one of the highlights of the disc and quite a surprise. Lyrically it comes across a bit like John Lennon's "Imagine".
No Easy Way Out
The intro on this one feels a bit like something we might expect to hear from Van Halen. The song proper bursts in with a killer modern metal fury. The chorus has quite an interesting hook. This cut is another that breaks new ground for the Ozzman.
That I Never Had
This one is very trademark Ozzy, to the point of feeling like something that he's already done. However, the chorus does have a bit of a twist to it.
You Know (Part I)
There is definitely more new ground broken here. After an intro that consists of the sound of someone scanning over radio stations, this track becomes a brief, acoustically based ballad with some poignantly personal lyrics. The piece ends with laughter followed by more radio scanning. This one is quite brief.
Junkie
Lyrically the title pretty much sums this one up. It's a biting commentary on the ravages of drug abuse. Musically this one is pretty typical Ozzy styled metal, but an adventurous instrumental break really sets it apart.
Running Out of Time
Another balladic type cut, this one is more in the arena rock vein than the earlier ones and gets pretty hard edged at times. It is a considerably powerful and interesting piece that really covers a good deal of musical ground. This is another high point of the disc. It is also another that shows definite Beatles influences.
Black Illusion
This one just screams in very hard-edged. The cut is one of the more generic Ozzy numbers on display here. Again, this cut is certainly not bad, but just a bit tired. Still, there are a few musical surprises to be had here.
Alive
Another that starts in the metal stomp camp, this one is a bit more juicy. The riff on which it's built has a great feel to it, and as the verse section enters the surprise begins. The verse here is built in a great mellower style that has a lot going on. The chorus screams out again, but with a lot of style. This one is more like older Ozzy, but still original, unique and quite inspired. It is definitely "a keeper".
Can You Hear Them
With an intro that is very percussively constructed, this one comes across at first as fairly pedestrian Ozzy. As it carries on the arrangement begins to take on new character. This one really has a lot of interesting twists and turns and even feels a bit Alice Cooperish at times.
 
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