Memoirs of a Madman

by: Ozzy Osbourne

Through summoning demons from the depths of hell as the frontman of metal pioneers Black Sabbath in their best days, partying hard through the '80s and landing on a reality show focusing on his dysfunctional family in the 2000s, Ozzy Osbourne has kept on the wicked side for the majority of his decades-spanning career in evil. Starting his solo bid almost immediately after his departure from Sabbath, Ozzy turned in classic metal albums with early-'80s Randy Rhoads collaborations like Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, and stayed consistently strong with many platinum-selling albums throughout the '90s, 2000s, and beyond. The Ozz man has never shied away from live records, repackagings, or greatest-hits collections, either, and Memoirs of a Madman collects standout cuts from each of his 11 studio albums, offering a full range of singles that shows the full spectrum of his development as the ever-menacing prince of heavy metal darkness. The 17 tracks here run in chronological order, from 1980’s easily recognizable “Crazy Train” through to particularly dated-sounding early-'90s power ballads like “Mama I’m Coming Home” up to “Let Me Hear You Scream” from his 2010 studio offering Scream. His Sabbath days get a nod or two as well, with a cover of their brooding piano ballad “Changes” that Ozzy and daughter Kelly serve up as an awkward daddy-daughter duet, and an unreleased live recording of “Paranoid” from 2010. While the material is inarguably some of the consolidated best Ozzy has recorded, it’s hard to know where to put Memoirs of a Madman. The post-'80s tunes get considerably weaker, and even the strongest tracks from Ultimate Sin-era Ozzy don’t touch anything from even his most drug-addled and confused days in Black Sabbath. Die-hard fans probably don’t need a collection so basic (the sole unreleased track, the aforementioned live version of “Paranoid,” is hardly essential listening) and anyone just coming to Ozzy's music could find a better introduction in any of the first three or four solo albums. While less thorough in their coverage of Ozzy’s long, strange road, they offer far more song-for-song and capture a time when the danger and devilishness of Ozzy’s increasingly hollow persona was backed up by more inspired songwriting and support from some of his strongest collaborators. [Memoirs of a Madman was also released in a clean version.] ~ Fred Thomas

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