You know, those albums that go together as a set, if you have one – you got to have the other[?] They are linked in some way, be it – cover art, band line-up / personnel, success, sound, lyrical themes and song titles, etc…
So, I’ll start with one of the easiest pairs of albums for me, and that is the first 2 Ozzy Osbourne albums [aka the Blizzard Of Ozz band]. 1980’s Blizzard Of Ozz and 1981’s Diary Of A Madman – the same band, written & recorded less than a year apart, for the same label. These 2 go together as a set, more than anything else in Ozzy’s career, and for me it was all downhill after these 2 albums. Both were major successes, and gave Ozzy’s post-Black Sabbath career a huge lift-off. (I’ve also added in some detail & recall).
“I went to a gig in London, and there was a band called ‘Girl’ playing, and they were a Jet Records band; Widowmaker had also been on Jet Records (as you probably know). I was looking for work myself, and I thought ‘well, it’s always good to put yourself around and see who’s about!’ I met Arthur Sharpe – who had been working for Jet Records, and it was Arthur who introduced me to Ozzy. Ozzy told me he was about to form a band and would I like to go up to his house in Stafford, and have a play, and he’d get a couple of local musicians in, and I said ‘Yes’. So I went up there, and he knew I’d just come from Rainbow; he said he liked my playing and would I be interested [?]. And I said ‘yes, I’d be interested in getting a band together with Him, but I wasn’t so sure about the local drummer and guitar player that he’d got in. And he said ‘OK, leave it to me, hang on a minute.’ And he walked out of the room and in to the studio that was in his house and said ‘OK guys – it’s not working out – Now pack up your stuff and go!’ [laughs]. And that was how he told them, which I thought was quite funny. Then he got on the phone to Arthur Sharpe and said ‘Bob and I get on like a house on fire, and the fire-brigade’s just left!’ And we went from there. He said he knew a guitar player that he’d met in LA called Randy Rhoads, so Jet Records flew Randy over and we started auditioning drummers…. He [Lee] was the last drummer we auditioned, and we must’ve auditioned 30-40 drummers at that time. We almost decided on 1 or 2, but they didn’t work out, and we had one more to audition and that was Lee Kerslake…. We auditioned down at The Who’s rehearsal place at Shepperton in London, and he perfect within the first number! I think the first song we did was ‘I Don’t Know’, and as soon as Lee started playing he just went for it ‘big time’, broke sticks, bits of sticks were flying everywhere, and Randy and I looked at each other and thought ‘this is the guy!’. He was like a bull in a China shop – he was perfect!” – Bob Daisley, 1999
To start you had a new band [for any doubters, look up earliest band photos] that featured the line up of Ozzy Osbourne [fired from Black Sabbath, but who had a distinctive voice and was a major character], along with Bob Daisley – ex of Rainbow, Widowmaker, and whom would pen most of the lyrics on the 2 BOZ albums], Lee Kerslake – the last to join, had been a huge part of Uriah Heep’s classic line-up having played on their biggest albums, And a young American guitarist named Randy Rhoads – Rhoads was a guitar teacher, and previously played with LA glam rock act Quiet Riot; he could play classical guitar, as well as contributed huge riffs and solos. He had a sound of his own, and as far as ’80s guitarists go, he was #1 for me – NO one sounded like him, or was as creative.
“He [Randy] was admittedly influenced by Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix, and certainly Eddie Van Halen, you can hear a bit of the Van Halen thing in his playing. But he had his own interpretation, and he had a great musical background, having come from a musical family – his mom ran a music store and Randy had been a teacher for quite a few years himself. It really fell together right, the chemistry was right, we got on well as personalities.” – BD
Although the band would co-produce both albums, Max Norman engineered Blizzard, while serving as co-producer on Diary [while Lee & Bob were cut out of the credits on this album]. You had Don Airey playing keyboards on the first album, while Johnny Cook played on the 2nd [uncredited]. And even though the album covers aren’t very similar, they do feature what would become Ozzy’s classic logo, as well as a photo of Ozzy in some scary setting [with upside down crosses], taken by legendary rock photographer Fin Costello.
“That was the idea – to make it a sort of comic book image. It took on legs with ‘Diary Of A Madman’ and with ‘Bark At The Moon’… It worked in establishing Ozzy after the Sabbath imagery. It’s the same stuffed cat on the first two. The cover for Japan’s Tin Drum cover was shot on the Diary set on the first day of construction.” – Fin Costello
I can put on either of these albums any days, both feature 8 classic songs [OK, Diary features a short guitar piece by Rhoads titled “Dee” for his mom, and “No Bones Movies” may have been a later add on that isn’t quite as outstanding]. But, both featured killer intro songs [“I Don’t Know” vs “Over The Mountain”], followed by a classic rocker that would be the major hit single off the album [“Crazy Train” vs “Flyin’ High Again” and become one of Ozzy’s trademark tunes, followed by a ballad [or lighter track\ featuring Randy Rhoads on acoustic guitar [“Goodbye To Romance” vs “You Can’t Kill Rock n Roll”]. Each featured another killer rock song with lyrics based on dark subjects to kick off side 2 [“Mr Crowley” vs “Little Dolls”.] “Little Dolls” would feature 1 of 2 big intros from the drummer.
“It was just on the spur of the moment. And as we were writing it, and I went ‘I’ve got an idea for this’, and I did, as simple as that!” – Lee Kerslake, 2014
Also included would also be a fast paced rocker [one that is under appreciated IMO – “Steal Away” vs “S.A.T.O.”] , as well as an epic track featuring classical guitar and strings [or synths resembling strings] [“Revelation (Mother Earth)” vs “Diary Of A Madman”] – both have the band coming off like an metal orchestra! And not to be forgotten were 2 other fan favorite / classics [“Suicide Solution” vs “Believer”].
Unfortunately, the band would be split with Daisley & Kerslake being fired before the release of Diary Of A Madman [hence, no credits and a photo of the ‘new’ Ozzy solo band on it]. A shame there are no official live releases from the one UK tour this band did, though there was a 12″ Live EP released between albums featuring live versions of “Mr Crowley”, “Suicide Solution”, and the non-album track “You Said It All”. The BOZ albums stand above and apart from anything else Ozzy did in the years [and decades] to come, and I eventually lost interest.
“Over the Mountain, Flyin’ High …- They’re great tracks, they’re so different. And I was the first to ever put triplets in to an introduction of a song, also a single on Over The Mountain.” – Lee K.
Randy Rhoads was tragically killed in a plane crash on March 19, 1982. A live ‘tribute’ album w/ Randy was eventually released, featuring much of these 2 albums, but with Ozzy’s US touring band.
“He was a very dedicated musician; he practiced a lot, he was really in to music. He was a very young up and coming guy. I think he got an award as one the ‘best new talents’. He certainly was and still is an influential guitarist for that sort of music, and he certainly had a lot to do with the success of Ozzy’s career as well!” – Bob D.
Bob and Lee went on to join a reformed Uriah Heep after their departure from BOZ, and .bring some of that ‘heaviness’ and energy to the albums Abominog & Head First. Bob would return to work with Ozzy, while Lee stayed with Heep for the remainder of his career. The pair reunited for 2004’s Living Loud project [along with Don Airey, Steve Morse, and singer Jimmy Barnes] where they did an album which included a number of remakes from Blizzard Of Ozz & Diary Of A Madman. In 2007 Lee was forced to retire, due to health issues, and sadly passed away September 19, last year. He made record a solo album in his last few years [recently released] titled Eleventeen.
Following the loss of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy carried on – first with a live album of Black Sabbath tracks [guitarist Brad Gillis doing an excellent job], followed by 1983’s Bark At The Moon. By this time Bob Daisley had left Heep and returned to write [uncredited for a few more Ozzy albums]. Max Norman was also back for Bark At The Moon, and the live albums, as was Don Airey. I liked that album [Bark] at the time, to me it tried to keep to the pattern of the 2 BOZ albums, and Jake E Lee [who would also get hosed, as well as not credited for his writing] did a great job. But the album was less heavy and less consistent, as well as including the ridiculous sappy ballad “So Tired”. Bob would go on to work on Ozzy albums The Ultimate Sin and No More Tears, as well as record with Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, and The Hoochie Coochie Men. He also wrote his book “For Fact’s Sake”, published in 2013, which detailed his career, with plenty of insight and stories into his time writing and recording Blizzard Of Ozz & Diary Of A Madman, and generally setting the record straight about his years working with Ozzy – a must read, really. Don Airey would eventually join Deep Purple, and Ozzy would carry on recording solo albums [with one released last year]. and with much of his live repertoire reliant on classics from the albums the original band created. I haven’t bought an Ozzy album in years, [mainly, but] not just for it being that last few I heard sounded forgettable, but the treatment of former band members [Sharon once referring to Lee & Bob as ‘session players’], the re-writing of Ozzy’s early history by Sharon, and Ozzy’s overall rise to fame as a TV star / celebrity, with his ‘metal’ persona and music taking a laughable back seat were about it for me. I was happy to see him with Black Sabbath 4 or 5 years ago, but I’m done with adding to my Ozzy collection in this lifetime – unless I come across something already out there of the original BOZ band I haven’t heard or have.
RIP Lee and Randy.