Ordinary Man, by Ozzy Osbourne
Suggested by Danny Nuttall
I like cooling towers.
I’ve mentioned this before, some three hundred albums ago. I reasoned my enjoyment was due to their incongruous oddness of scale. While that’s true, it’s also a love that defies explanation. Sure, I giggle when I see a cooling tower juxtaposed against a diminutive row of terraced houses, or acting as a colossal backdrop to a slither of paper-clip pylons, but I feel just as warm if I see a cooling tower without the proverbial banana for scale.
Everyone has these subtle triggers for happiness or glee. For me, it’s cooling towers, or stone lamp-posts, or ancient cars with wooden panelling. For you? Maybe it’s the smell of petrol, or distant sheep in a field, or the sound of rainfall on a canvas tent. Whatever such cues may be, they provide solace in disquieting times, and ease the tensions created by a wearying world.
Track one of Ozzy Osbourne’s Ordinary Man, his latest album of twelve, is called Straight to Hell. It starts with some soothing choral work before the grinding rock-metal riff kicks in. After a few bars, Ozzy pipes up with a nasal “alright now” in his signature singing sound, and it’s pitched so perfectly that I’m laughing and nodding and falling in love with this album already.
As an Eighties and Nineties Mettaller, I should be more knowledgeable about Ozzy’s catalogue. Reading his discography, it’s clear that while I know the names of his albums, at least until we hit the late nineties, I’m woefully unequipped to recall many of his actual songs. I know the early singles – Bark at the Moon, Crazy Train, Mr Crowley, Paranoid, No More Tears – but his album tracks are beyond me. None of that actually matters, of course, because the songs are second fiddle to the voice, and the character, and the legend.
Ordinary Man was lauded as a return to fine form, and while I can’t truly attest to that, it’s a triumphant album nonetheless. The opener has a throwback feel, a classic Ozzy vibe, and it promises excitement and drive as well as a soothing balm to long-time fans who might feel apprehensive at their guy’s first release in a decade. There’s nothing to fret over, as the songs here are so gloriously apt that they almost reach Peak Ozzy, Ozztimus Prime, just falling short of becoming out and out parodies.
Every Ozzy appears here. There’s the stomping Ozzy in the opening track, the soaring and overblow Ozzy in All My Life, the reflective Ozzy in Holy for Tonight, the gurning and gratuitous Ozzy in Scary Little Green Men, and more. He invites some top-tier friends to play too, with Elton John lending a hand on the excellent Ordinary Man, and Post Malone bringing both barrels to my standout, the incendiary It’s a Raid. The album concludes with a second Post Malone collaboration, in which the rapper received top billing, which is a canny business decision and a chance to bring a new sound to the party.
Like a well-placed cooling tower, Ozzy Osbourne is guaranteed to raise a smile from me. Ordinary Man scores a strong 8/10. It’s everything I wanted from an Ozzy album,: full-bore, balls-out high-spirited throwback heavy metal. He may be in his seventies, but Ozzy’s not lost a beat.