Album Review: Ozzy Osbourne - Ordinary Man

Here's a fun fact, courtesy of previous Up to Eleven interviewee Matt Stewart: Ozzy Osbourne has a genetic mutation which enables him to withstand heavy substance use. He has several gene variants which geneticists have never seen before, including on genes associated with alcoholism and recreational drug intake. He is an X-Man whose superpower is the ability to take loads of drugs and survive. It certainly explains a lot.

It's fair to say that Ozzy is a bonafide music legend. Not only was he one of the the founders of the metal genre, he has proven time and again over the decades that he is a master of the craft. Now he returns with his first solo studio album in ten years, so despite his legacy, it may have been fair to assume that there's a little rust there and expect a bit of mediocrity as he blows away the dust.

Not a bit of it.

Any concerns that Ozzy may be a bit out of practice are immediately squashed and liquidised by 'Straight to Hell', a power-drive of an opener that is so immediately recognisable as an Ozzy track that it's almost laughable. Loud, bold and led by his unmistakeable voice, it sets the tone for what proves to be a truly great album.

It's followed by the slightly calmer 'All My Life', after which is 'Goodbye', one of the record's highlights. It's got groove enough to rival Earthworm Jim, excellent vocals from the man himself and when it does speed up, you'll find yourself jamming along before you know it. Three tracks in, you already know you're listening to what is possibly the best Ozzy Osbourne album of the 21st Century.

And then comes track 4, which is a collaboration with Elton John. After already opening with three excellent songs of his own, to bring Elton John in now almost feels like a piss-take. Predictably, it's an outstanding effort from the team-up we never knew we needed, with the two British legends coming together here to create a perfect blend of each other's styles. Yes. All the yes.

This is at risk of becoming a track-by-track review, but the quality of the album's first half deems it almost necessary. The next song, 'Under the Graveyard', was the lead single and despite its slightly more commercial tones, it remains a typical Ozzy track and yet another strong addition to the record.

But if that was Side A, now we come to Side B and overall, there's a whole lot less to say about it. The album certainly dips, with 'Eat Me', 'Scary Little Green Men' and 'Holy for Tonight' all proving to be rather plain and uninteresting, though 'Today Is The End' is another worthy addition to the album.

The final two songs, however, are unlikely collaborations with Post Malone which turn out to be surprisingly good. Malone belts out his verse on 'It's a Raid' in a way that we have never heard him sing before, taking me much by surprise. It's an impressive performance, and Ozzy also serves the following track well, one that is much more in Post Malone's comfort zone. It's an interesting end to a predominantly hard rock/heavy metal record, but there's enough guitar work on it to make it fit in nicely.

Ordinary Man is a record on which Ozzy Osbourne defies his age of 71 and performs like a man half that. His voicebox is still clearly in great shape and at no point does he sound overly strained. This is all doubly impressive when you remember he also has Parkinson's Disease, something that has led him to cancel an upcoming tour. It was a huge shame to hear of this news, but one listen to this album confirms that he's not letting anything stop him.

He's led a controversial life, has Ozzy. Whether it was his exit from Sabbath, biting the head off of a live bat, being involved in two lawsuits regarding suicides allegedly inspired by his music or his excessive abuse of drugs and alcohol, Ozzy has certainly lived his life to the full. At 71, he's not going to stop now, and he's proved it again with this record. Okay, the second half of it isn't all that, but I think we can forgive him. A great record it is, and an ordinary man, he is not.