Speak of the Devil

by: Ozzy Osbourne

Immediately following the death of Ozzy Osbourne's dear friend and collaborator Randy Rhoads, tentative plans for a live recording from the Rhoads tours were quickly scrapped. Instead, the deeply troubled singer opted for a pair of one-offs at New York City's Ritz club. No one had any idea what Ozzy would do, and an evening of Black Sabbath covers was the furthest thing from everyone's mind. Ozzy had been portrayed as a washed-up, vocally challenged frontman by his ex-bandmates, and the perception was that Ozzy could no longer sing the original Sabbath material. Hiring metal producer Max Norman to man the boards, Ozzy enlisted Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis to play the role of Tony Iommi for the evening. The show itself took on an ominous tone with a chair visibly propped up on the edge of the stage; upon it rested a spiral notebook containing the lyrics to all the Sabbath songs of the evening, from which Ozzy read throughout the show. Still, Speak of the Devil is strengthened by the classic combo of Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge on bass and drums, undoubtedly one the best rhythm sections of Ozzy's solo career. And immediately, it becomes obvious that Brad Gillis was the right man for the gig. Playing Iommi to a tee, Gillis effortlessly leads the band through some of the best of the Sabbath catalog; Speak of the Devil ends up solid throughout, if somewhat unremarkable at times. Listening to the remastered version, there's no doubt that the vocals feature some heavily doctored patch-ups, but regardless, Ozzy proved his point to his ex-bandmates. Following the recording, due to the uncertainty surrounding the Ozzy camp, Gillis would jump ship and rejoin the ranks of Night Ranger. ~ John Franck

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