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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ozzy Osbourne: "Thirty Years After The Blizzard"; Review

In September of 1980, Ozzy Osbourne unleashed the fractured heavy metal classic "Blizzard of Ozz" on a largely ignorant public. No one expected much from the solo debut of this drug-addled Black Sabbath moaner; then again, no one expected the dour Oz would find his perfect musical foil in a flashy L.A. guitar whiz named Randy Rhoads. A unique and potent synergy was born, one that allowed rock’s most maniacal son to go pop without being defanged. Look at "Blizzard’s" most famous track, “Crazy Train”: the song has translated wonderfully to high school pep rallies, yet Rhodes’ demented fretwork drives home that this top ten hit is at its core a window into Ozzy’s ant-snorting, piss-drinking insanity.
"Thirty Years After The Blizzard", a brief feature set to be included in this month’s "Blizzard of Ozz" 30th anniversary box (which also contains Osbourne’s 1981 sophomore album "Diary of a Madman"), looks back at the circumstances and key personalities surrounding Ozzy’s first foray into mainstream metal with his guitar soulmate. The documentary doesn’t bother to dig too deep to tell its story, basically just bouncing between Ozzy, his wife/manager Sharon, and a few others (Zakk Wylde, Bill Ward) as they recount our hero’s post-Sabbath travails in what amounts to a rushed episode of "Behind the Music". In their defense, the bittersweet story of Oz landing on his feet with Randy Rhoads for two hot potato albums before cruel fate intervened has been told a million times before. Here, it’s mostly a framing device for previously unseen concert footage and amusing bits of Ozzy listening intently to the "Blizzard"/"Diary" masters.
“God, what talent,” Ozzy mutters in disbelief as tapes of his deceased colleague’s nimble pentatonic wizardry assail his ears. Indeed, no one’s ever questioned the genius of Randy Rhoads; "Thirty Years" just assumes viewers already worship the elfin “Crazy Train” legend and know all too well his tragic end. The doc doesn’t even bother to finish Sharon’s pained narration as she recounts the sunny 1982 afternoon Randy boarded that ill-fated propeller plane in Central Florida (spoiler alert: the plane crashed, killing Randy instantly).
"Thirty Years After The Blizzard" works best when it sticks to presenting Osbourne and Rhoads via vintage live clips, showcasing the duo as gleeful arena masters holding crowds in the palm of their collective hand. Yet the footage of Ozzy and Randy from the early ’80s is exclusively footage of Ozzy and Randy; Bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake are barely heard or seen in the film despite their equally important contributions to the first two Ozzy solo outings. A major failing, but again, those familiar with the story know this is likely no accident. A 1986 lawsuit over royalties embittered the Osbourne camp so much toward Daisley and Kerslake that their work was eradicated from 2002 reissues of "Blizzard" and "Diary" in favor of bass and drum work by Ozzy’s then-current backup players (Rob Trujillo and Mike Bordin, respectively).
Thankfully, there was enough public outcry over Team Ozzy’s historical rewrite to force an apology, and now the original Daisley/Kerslake rhythm tracks are restored on the 2011 remasters of "Blizzard" and "Diary" (both of which sound fucking great, by the way). Tensions apparently remain, though, as Bob and Lee were left out of "Thirty Years" in favor of the umpteenth round of “Hey, remember when Ozzy pissed on the Alamo?” memories. Ironically, somewhere in "Thirty Years", an exasperated Ozzy defends his musical talent by saying something to the effect of, “There’s more to me than the bat, the dove, and the Alamo!” Heed your own words next time, Blizz.
-Review courtesy of Crawdaddy.


  1. Let's just leave Paul and Ringo out of a Beatles documentary. Such a shame about Bob and Lee.